Saturday was basically a travel day as we flew from Efinburgh to Dublin. Our first night was spent in the charming suburb of Dublin called Malahide. Located right on the Irish Sea, our hotel was charming and amusingly was hosting lots of birthday and Christening parties. A bit of a mad house. On Sunday we departed Dublin and headed north through the rich pasturelands of the Boyne Valley and visited the site of the famous Battle of the Boyne. This was the battle that determined that William of Orange was definitively the King of England over James ll. we arrived in Belfast in the late afternoon after a panoramic bus tour.
On Monday we started our day with a tour of Belfast’s beautiful City Hall, followed but free time in the city centre and then a tour around the Falls Rd/Shankhill Rd areas of Belfast where the sectarian troubles of the 70’s-90’s took place. Very troubling to see how this city is still very much divided along sectarian lines. Lots of murals and graffiti still expressing old hatreds. In the afternoon we visited the Titanic Experience which is an indepth look at the building and sinking of the Titanic. Very sad, given how proud the city had been of its shipbuilding success. Our evening was spent in a tour of the Crumlin Road Gaol with dinner to follow in the jail. An extremely unusual dinner venue.
All in all, I have to confess that Belfast is possibly one of the greyest and grimmest places I have ever seen. It has been windy, cold and rainy much of the time we’ve been here. It’s a relatively young city with a fair bit of Victorian architecture and a lot of fairly modern 50’s-60’s unattractive architecture. A huge amount of red brick in its residential areas. I was not enchanted by anything I saw. There was a lot of bomb damage during WW2 and the troubles, so many of its original buildings have been replaced. It just made me a little sad.
Gunman at the Battle of the Boyne site