Thursday, July 14, 2016

British Isles Friday Belfast

April 2007 - Belfast Northern Ireland

We flew to Belfast and spent a few days before renting a car. We landed at Belfast International airport and caught a shuttle to our hotel, Day's Hotel now known as the Holiday Inn Belfast.
It was a good budget hotel in the centre of the city.

This was the first time we had seen this, using your room key to enable the power.
In Europe it is very common that you get two room keys. One of them is used to turn the electricity on in your room, there is a slot by the room door. This reduces energy costs. You simply remove it when you leave the room.
One downside to this, as we've learned the hard way, is if you leave computers, or cell phones or batteries charging and you remove the key then they can't get charged.

I will present our tour of the city in no particular order.

Founded in 1788, The Linen Hall  is the oldest library in Belfast and the last subscribing library in Ireland.

It is renowned for its unparalleled Irish and Local Studies Collection, ranging from comprehensive holdings of Early Belfast and Ulster printed books to the 250,000 items in the Northern Ireland Political Collection, the definitive archive of the recent troubles.

It was founded in 1788 by a group of artisans as the Belfast Reading Society and in 1792 became the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge. It adopted a resolution in 1795 "that the object of this Society is the collection of an extensive Library, philosophical apparatus and such products of nature and art as tend to improve the mind and excite a spirit of general enquiry"

n 1802 the Library moved into permanent premises in White Linen Hall (from which it took its name, though legally it is still the Belfast Society for Promoting Knowledge).

The Linen Hall Library occupies a site in Donegall Square North in front of today's City Hall, started life within the walls of the White Linen Hall.

Belfast City Hall

The Linen Quarter is the area o south of the City Hall bounded by Donegall Square South/May Street, Bedford Street, Ormeau Avenue and Cromac Street. The name is derived from the great many linen manufacturers that made their homes in the area and which were so influential in the development of Belfast, a city once referred to as the "Linenopolis".

The site now occupied by Belfast City Hall was once the home of the White Linen Hall, an important international linen exchange. The street which runs from the back door of Belfast City Hall through the middle of the Linen Quarter is known as Linen Hall Street.

Monument to the Unknown Woman Worker: Outside the Great Northern Mall (front entrance to the Europa Buscentre) you'll find two life size ladies cast in bronze and brandishing ephemera representing low-paid jobs, including housework. Look for the typewriter, telephone and clothes hangar and ponder "a woman's work is never done".

The Crown Liquor Saloon is located in Great Victoria Street. Refurbished to a high standard in 1885, it is an outstanding example of a Victorian gin palace, and is one of Northern Ireland's best-known pubs.

So of course we had to stop in for a pint!

Originally opened by Felix O'Hanlon and known as The Railway Tavern, the pub was then bought by Michael Fanigan. Fanigan's son Patrick renamed and renovated the pub in 1885.

The Crown owes its elaborate tiling, stained glass and woodwork to the Italian craftsmen whom Fanigan persuaded to work on the pub after hours. These craftsmen were brought to Ireland to work on the many new churches being built in Belfast at the time.

The Grand Opera House was designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the period, Frank Matcham. It opened on 23 December 1895

t was renamed the Palace of Varieties in 1904, although it reverted to its original name in 1909 Variety programmes dominated in the 1920s and 1930s and the theatre saw performances by Gracie Fields, Will Fyffe and Harry Lauder. It became a repertory theatre during World War II and at the celebrations to mark the end of the war, Eisenhower, Montgomery and Alanbrooke attended gala performances at the theatre. The Grand Opera House was acquired by the Rank Organisation, which led to its use as a cinema between 1961 and 1972.

As business slowed in the early 1970s with the onset of the Troubles, Rank initiated plans to sell the theatre to a property developer, who proposed that the building be pulled down and replaced with an office block.
The building was bought by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and listed in 1974
It was damaged by bombs on several occasions, usually when the nearby Europa Hotel had been targeted. It was very badly damaged by bomb blasts in 1991 and 1993.

Standing on the corner...

There is now Titanic Belfast,a visitor attraction and a monument to Belfast's maritime heritage on the site of the former Harland & Wolff shipyard in the city's Titanic Quarter where the RMS Titanic was built. It tells the stories of the ill-fated Titanic, which hit an iceberg and sank during her maiden voyage in 1912,
 I guess I have to go back to visit it!!!

Harland and Wolff as it appeared in 2007.

The Thanksgiving Statue is a £300,000 public art metal sculpture by Andy Scott 19.5 metres high constructed in 2007 in Thanksgiving Square in Belfast. As with other public works of art in Ireland the sculpture has been given several nicknames. These include the Beacon of Hope, Nuala with the Hula (credited to Gerard Doyle), theBelle on the Ball and the Thing with the Ring.
Click here to read about Dublin statue nicknames.

Like many cities government buildings have fences to prevent any unwanted entry.

My pub!

MacGenis, Guinness, Magennis – The modern spelling of this name is usually MacGuinness or MacGenis but in the historical records in English they are called as a rule Magennis, a form still to be found in some places today. In Irish the name is Mag Aonghusa,which means 'son of Angus.' The name was first found on Co. Down in the province of Ulster – they held a family seat there from ancient times.

 Riding the Hop On Hop Off.

The Shankill Road (from Irish Seanchill, meaning "old church") is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast, Northern Ireland. It runs through the predominantly loyalist working class area known as the Shankill. The road stretches westwards for about 2.4 km (1.5 mi) from central Belfast and is lined, to an extent, by shops.

Falls Road, derived from the Irish word for “district of the falls or hedges,” is a predominantly working-class area of western Belfast. The neighborhood is known for its role in “The Troubles,” having served as the central hub for many of the nationalist organizations of the time, and is divided from Shankill Road by one of the peace walls of Belfast.

Many famous Republican murals can be found in the area, such as the mural of hunger striker Bobby Sands on the wall of the Sinn Féin shop and office. Sands died after a hunger strike in Maze Prison, which left nine other prisoners dead. There are a few murals where you might notice a few repetitive motifs and symbols, such as a phoenix rising from the ashes, which stands for Ireland emerging from the flames of the 1916 Easter Rising.  

Also of note is the “solidarity wall', featuring murals dedicated to people with connections to Irish Republicanism, such as the Blanketmen, Palestinians, ETA and Frederick Douglass. The solidarity wall is located close to the newly rebuilt Falls Road Leisure Centre and the Divis area.

Belfast Harbour is a major maritime hub in Northern Ireland, handling 67% of Northern Ireland’s seaborne trade and about 25% of the maritime trade of the entire island of Ireland. It is a vital gateway for raw materials, exports and consumer goods, and is also Northern Ireland’s leading logistics and distribution hub.

Henry Joy McCracken was born in High street, Belfast into two of the city's most prominent Protestant industrial families. He was the son of Ulster Scot Presbyterian shipowner Captain John McCracken and Ann Joy, daughter of Francis Joy, of French Huguenot Protestant descent. The Joy family made their money in linen manufacture and founded the Belfast News Letter.

McCracken became interested in radical politics from an early age and joined the Society of the United Irishmen in 1795 which quickly made him a target of the authorities. He regularly travelled throughout the country using his business as a cover for organising other United Irish societies, but was arrested in October 1796 and lodged in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin. While imprisoned with other leaders of the United Irishmen, McCracken fell seriously ill and was released on bail in December 1797.[1]

Following the outbreak of the United Irishmen-led Rebellion in Leinster in May 1798, the Antrim organisation met on 3 June to decide on their response. The meeting ended inconclusively with a vote to wait for French aid being passed by a narrow margin.
McCracken formulated a plan for all small towns in Antrim to be seized after which rebels would converge upon Antrim town on 7 June where the county's magistrates were to hold a crisis meeting. Although the plan met initial success and McCracken led the rebels in the attack on Antrim, his United Irishmen were defeated and his army melted away. Although McCracken initially escaped a chance encounter with men who recognized him from his cotton business led to his arrest. Although offered clemency if he testified against other United Irishmen leaders, McCracken refused to turn on his compatriots.

He was court-martialled and hanged at Corn Market, Belfast, on land his grandfather had donated to the city, on 17 July 1798, aged 30.

McCracken's remains are believed to have been reinterred by Francis Joseph Biggar in 1909 at Clifton Street Cemetery, Belfast, alongside his sister Mary Ann. His illegitimate daughter Maria (whose mother is speculated to have been Mary Bodell), was raised by her aunt Mary Ann McCracken.

The Albert Memorial Clock is a clock tower situated at Queen's Square. It was completed in 1869 and is one of the best known landmarks of Belfast.

George A. Birmingham was the pen name of James Owen Hannay (16 July 1865 - 2 February 1950), Irish clergyman and prolific novelist.

Born in Belfast, he was ordained in 1889 as a Church of Ireland (Anglican) minister and served as rector of Holy Trinity Church, Westport in County Mayo. His early writings raised the ire of nationalist Catholics, and he withdrew from the Gaelic League in the wake of ongoing protests about the tour of his successful play General John Regan. He became rector of Kildare parish from 1918 to 1920, and after serving as chaplain to the Viceroy of Ireland, he joined the British ambassadorial team in Budapest in 1922. He returned to officiate at Mells, Somerset from 1924 to 1934, after which he was appointed vicar of Holy Trinity Church in the London suburb of Kensington where he served from 1934 to his death in 1950.

Great Indian curry for dinner!


  1. It is the Opera House that particularly stands out to me. It's good that it was saved from the developer's ideas.

  2. Linenopolis! Who knew? I always learn something interesting by visiting you on Friday Jackie. Cheers!

  3. The protest art is fascinating. I loved learning about your name with a photo of the pub.

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