Photos by: Philip Galvin
Ireland, Cities (Belfast and Dublin)
The first city we visited was the capital and largest city in Northern Ireland, Belfast. It is a city that had suffered for so many years from the battle of those who wanted to separate from England and those who wished to stay. Northern Ireland is still part of the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the division was also along the lines of religion. During this time, Belfast experienced severe violence (bombings and murders) which lasted for 30 years (1969-1998). Parts of the city remain segregated by the “peace wall” between Catholic neighborhoods and Protestant neighborhoods.
The most memorable sight of downtown Belfast was pots of red flowers hung by the windows along the street - whether it was sunny or a rainy day they brightened up the street. The stone paving takes us back to an earlier time.
Colorfully painted stores stand along the stone paved paths. No matter where you look, you find tastefully decorated signs in red, green, and blue. It is a sight you don’t generally see in North America, especially in Western Canada. It made us feel that we were truly in Europe.
We saw the traditional stone walls we were expecting to see. Below is the oldest building in Belfast built in the 1680's.
We continued to walk into the heart of downtown; there, we saw so many displays of interesting art on the walls that were quite impressive.
One clear day, we walked toward the shipyard where the famous ship “Titanic” along with the “Olympic” were built.
Titanic Belfast is a museum opened in 2012, to mark the centenary of Titanic’s maiden voyage and sinking which occurred in 1912. The replica of the Titanic’s staircase was a focal point of the museum. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photos inside.
The most impressive part of the museum was the second gallery called “The Shipyard”. There we took a mini car up and around a replica of Titanic’s rudder. The different stages of the shipbuilding were displayed through audio and images which were quite impressive.
Another memorable display was “The fourth gallery” which presented a model of the Titanic. There, we could see three classes of cabins. There were so many displays of memorabilia from the sunken ship, it took us more than a couple of hours to see everything.
We walked around the modern part of Belfast and visited a shopping mall. Inside, we saw many contemporary shops and restaurants which were like the ones in Canada.
After we left the shopping mall, we saw a church and another traditional building.
Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It is located at the mouth of the River Liffey on Ireland’s east coast. The first thing we noticed was the number of bridges which cross the river Liffey. There are a total of 24 bridges. We bought day passes for the Big Bus Dublin, Hop on Hop off Bus Tour. This pass allows you to get on and off the bus to see the sights you wish to see.
Samuel Beckett Bridge
The “Ha’penny” Bridge
National Conference Centre
The Famine Memorial
The memorial, in remembrance of the Great Famine (1845-1849) stands on Customs House Quay. The population of the country was halved through death and emigration during this time.
The expression of each statue was somewhat eerie.
Christ Church Cathedral
Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA)
This museum is located on 48 acres of land in the heart of Dublin 8. Again, we were not allowed to take photos inside but were able to walk around the enormous grounds that were maintained immaculately.
The building was built in the 17th century, inspired by Les Invalides in Paris. For almost 250 years, it was used as a home for pensioner soldiers.
Quick historical references of Ireland.
400 BC Celtic tribes invaded Ireland
432 Christianity was brought to Ireland by St. Patrick
795 Vikings began to raid Ireland
1014 At Clontarf, Brian Boru defeated the Vikings
1541 Ireland's Parliament was forced to declare Henry VII to be a king
1603 Elizabeth I ended revolts in Ulster
1649 Oliver Cromwell crushed an Irish revolt against England. He took
many political rights and land away from Irish Catholics
1690 In the Battle of the Boyne, The English defeated James II and
1801 Ireland became part of the UK of Great Britain and Ireland
1845-1847 About 750,000 people were killed by a potato famine
1916 In Dublin, the Easter Rebellion against British rule broke out.
1921 It became a dominion of Great Britain called the Irish Free State
1949 Ireland declared itself a republic
1955 Ireland joined the United Nations
1973 Ireland became a member of the European Community
You can find this info. in the bottom of every document as reference.