Belfast, Belfast…

Belfast city scene

Photo of Belfast is off the Wikipedia site.

“Belfast from the Irish Béal Feirste meaning “The sandy ford at the river mouth” is the capital of Northern Ireland. It is the largest city in Northern Ireland and the province of Ulster, and the second-largest city on the island of Ireland (after Dublin). In the 2001 census the population within the city limits (the Belfast Urban Area) was 276,459, while 579,554 people lived in the wider Belfast Metropolitan Area.This made it the fifteenth-largest city in the United Kingdom.” Wikipedia

Here is a memory of days long ago: BONEY M video and song BELFAST

“DESTINATION 360” on Belfast:

”Belfast, Northern Ireland has always had a fierce, often bloody history. The Troubles of 1960 to 1994 have not faded from Ireland’s consciousness, but active negotiations and peace efforts have soothed this strong activist region. Unlike many other Irish regions, present-day Northern Ireland is a province under the rule of the United Kingdom. After decades of political turmoil, violence, and activism, Belfast Ireland has at last found some degree of peace, when a cease-fire between the British and the IRA was called in 1994. The cease-fire continues to this day, although the long-seated division between British supporters and IRA supporters still lingers.”


BELFAST PEACE LINES – WALL- to segregate the communties: ”The Peace Lines are a series of separation barriers ranging in length from a few hundred yards to over three miles, separating Protestant and Catholic neighbourhoods in Belfast, Derry and elsewhere in Northern Ireland. The stated purpose of the barriers is to minimize intercommunal sectarian violence between Protestants and Catholics.

The barriers themselves consist of iron, brick, and steel walls up to 25 feet high, topped with metal netting, or simply a white line painted on the ground similar to a road marking. Some have gates in them occasionally manned by police, which allow passage by day, and which are closed at night.

The first barriers were constructed in the early 1970s, following the outbreak of “The Troubles”. Originally few in number, they have multiplied over the years, from 18 in the early 1990s to 40 today; in total they stretch over 13 miles. Most are located in Belfast. In recent years they have become locations for tourism. Black Taxis now take groups of tourists around Belfast’s Peace Lines, trouble spots and famous murals. (Wikipedia)

Belfast is so very near to Dublin in the Southern Ireland and yet so far. What that? Well, the mentality of the Northerner compared to the Southerner is miles apart, in almost every way. Where the Dubliner and the rest of the population in the south are laid-back, witty, fatalistic and not-so-terribly efficient in whatever they do, the Northerner is uptight, serious, strong willed and highly efficient in his/her basic nature.

The very first time I went to Belfast was just four days after arriving in Ireland. There was a family funeral there. In Ireland it is of utmost importance to be there and to support the people that have had the sadness of death in the family. People go by the hundreds into the funerals and it is normally considered an excusable reason to take time out in the middle of one’s working day to attend a funeral.

Did you know that the Titanic was built in Belfast in 1912, on Harland and Wolff which had the largest shipyard in the world? And, have you ever heard of the Belfast Sink?

Tis for now. Riihele xx

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Incidents and Such Like ~ DRINKS

Drinks

I had only arrived in Ireland and been just for a few days in Dublin when the uncle living in Belfast died, and we all hurried to the funeral in the north – as in Northern Ireland. The funeral part was over and we were in the hotel for a meal and a chat with the relatives and friends of the uncle, when a group of old ladies, Queen Mum look-a-likes with handbags and outfits to match the QM, were all ordering these fancy drinks of which names I had never ever even heard. My mouth was wide ajar with surprise and wonder of it all so that I could not utter a word, when himself says to me:

“YOU will order orange juice!!” And so I did.

To my absolute amazement the rounds of drinks were many and plentiful. I said to himself that never, never, in the Finnish funerals – though, being a nation of heavy drinkers – would no body but nobody ever dare serve alcoholic drinks. It would be considered most inappropriate.

Another humorous funeral incident with a macabre twist was this true story that happened for a long, long time ago to her family in Ireland as told to me by an Irish-Italian woman, who I got to know while living in County Wicklow. The old custom of mourning in Ireland is to have a wake for the dead that goes on for a number of days with heavy drinking and plentiful singing and story telling around the coffin.

Anyway, this is what happened: the party was in a very merry way after several days of the wake when suddenly there was a knock at the coffin coming from the inside and they opened the lid, and the “deceased” one rises up to a sitting position and says:

“GIMME A DRINK!”

He had only been unconscious for a good few days and not dead. Twas a lucky man and a good thing that the wake was taking place and not an immediate burial.

Tis now for Incidents and Such Like this time. Rii xx.

Travels: Belfast

Gladioli

Belfast is so very near to Dublin in the Southern Ireland and yet so far. What that? Well, the mentality of the Northerner compared to the Southerner is miles apart, in almost every way. Where the Dubliner and the rest of the population in the south are laid-back, witty, fatalistic and not-so-terribly efficient in whatever they do, the Northerner is uptight, serious, strongwilled and highly efficient in his/her basic nature.

We used to be simply awed by the state of the roads as soon as one crossed the border in Newry over to the Northern Ireland. One could really put the boot down from here on the motorway and be in Belfast in a jiffy! Marvellous. The state of the roads in the Republic were – and still are in parts – such that the journey even though not that long in miles or kilometers took a lifetime!

The very first time I went to Belfast was just four days after arriving in Ireland. There was a family funeral there. In Ireland it is of utmost importance to be there and to support the people that have had the sadness of death in the family. People go by the hundreds into the funerals and it is normally considered an excusable reason to take time out in the middle of one’s working day to attend a funeral.

One thing that used be so great to do in Belfast was the shopping. The difference between the Irish Punt and the Sterling was not that big, sometimes they were even on par. Nowadays the Euro has lost the plot to the Sterling and it is far too expensive to go shopping there anymore!

We would go to the north a lot even at the height of the violence, another name for it is the ‘Troubles.’ Rather an odd name for such a traumatic and highly dangerous time. We had both relatives and friends living in there. Some of them still do. Then when the so called ‘Peace Agreement‘ came in 1998 we took the train there from Dublin a good few times. Otherwise previously we would have gone by car to Belfast.

First of all we parked the car at the Europa Hotel and had a cuppa there before walking to the stores. Where would be good to shop? Well, the Castle Court Shopping Centre is big and has plenty of various kinds of stores in it. In those days before many of the British High Street stores such as Argos, Boots, Debenhamns, etc.  came to the south they were only in the north so hence our trekking there.  Also the Queen’s Arcade is a very expensive but beautiful small shopping mall at the heart of Belfast. The city is not big at all. Here is a map of the city centre. To tank up we would go the Cafe Paul Rankin at the Fountain Street. It used to be nearly the only one of its kind ’til quite recently. This cafe served the most delicious food – every time it was a winner.

There were not many cultural things that we did then because of the Troubles. The people did not move about that much then to nightspots or restaurants as they did in the south. Now it is different.

Tis for now. Riihele xx.