Beautiful Belfast


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One of the reasons we’d come to Belfast was to see one of our favourite bands, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, at the renowned Limelight. We admittedly were a little nervous about the idea. Belfast was once considered one of the world’s most dangerous cities and it’s impossible not to reflect on years of violence covered in the news, even though those years are actually distant memories now. In some ways it makes Belfast a more exciting place to be. There’s no question it’s now a world-class city and is well-worth visiting. Every place we went the Irish were warm and friendly, and we always felt safe.

Belfast also is a beautiful city. During the Industrial Revolution, it became Ireland’s major industrial city with thriving linen, heavy engineering, tobacco and shipbuilding industries. In the 19th century, Belfast was known as “linenopolis” because it was world’s largest producer of linen and for a time had the highest population in Ireland. The city’s past and present prosperity is reflected in many beautiful historic and modern buildings, with excellent restaurants and pubs throughout. And we thoroughly enjoyed the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club show. The Limelight is an excellent mid-sized club venue that has hosted such notable bands as Oasis and The Stokes, and we had an great spot only feet from the band.

Below are trip highlights October 23 and 24th in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Click any image for a larger view, or click the position to view the location on a map. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps

10/23/2017
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Albert Memorial Clock

The Albert Memorial Clock Tower was built 1867 in honour of Queen Victoria’s deceased husband. The tower has a slight lean and the locals say that “Old Albert not only has the time, he has the inclination”.
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Custom House

Near Lagan Wier, the elegant Custom House was built in Italianate style between 1854 and 1857. The bronze sculpture on the right, “The Speaker” is a memorial to the days when the steps were a Speaker’s Corner.
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St. George’s Church

St. George’s Church on High Street was completed in 1816 on the place where the settlement of Belfast began and the name of the city is derived. Beal Feirste is Irish for “the sandy ford at the mouth of the Farset”. The River Farset, now carried via tunnel under High Street, is a tributary of the River Lagan. A small chapel once stood here, used by pilgrims waiting to cross the mud flats at low tide.
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Victoria Square

Looking up to the dramatic glass dome and observation deck in Belfast’s Victoria Square shopping mall.
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Spirit of Belfast

The sculpture “Spirit of Belfast” near the main entrance to Victoria Square mall. The sculpture’s design reflects the texture and lightness of linen and the strength and beauty of shipbuilding, two industries that drove Belfast’s growth and success.
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Bank Buildings

Looking down Castle Place to The Bank Buildings, completed in 1787. Two centuries later, in 1975, the building was damaged when three bombs exploded inside and a major fire broke out. The structure has since been restored and refurbished.
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Donegall Place

Looking down Donegall Place, with the dome of Belfast’s city hall building visible in the distance.
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City Hall

During the Industrial Revolution, Belfast became Ireland’s major industrial city with thriving linen, heavy engineering, tobacco and shipbuilding industries. In the 19th century, Belfast was known as “linenopolis” because it was world’s largest producer of linen and for a time had the highest population in Ireland. The city’s prosperity is reflected in their extravagant city hall, completed in 1905. The statue in front is of Queen Victoria, who in 1888 awarded Belfast city status.
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Central Staircase

The elegant Belfast City Hall interior is full of Italian marble and stained glass. This is the central staircase leading to first floor rotunda.
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1897 Street Map

Belfast City Hall houses an excellent, and surprisingly large, visitor exhibition detailing the city’s history that just opened this year. This floor map shows Belfast in 1897.
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Reflection Space

The Reflection Space in the city hall visitor exhibition is dedicated to Belfast’s late 20th-century civil unrest, known as “The Troubles”, where more than three and a half thousand people died. The sobering display includes unattributed quotes from those affected by the events.
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Dinner

We had an excellent light dinner at Bullit overlooking a whiskey keg sculpture in the patio. It almost was warm enough to eat outside.
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Dusk

Looking back to downtown Belfast across the lit pedestrian bridge over the Lagan Wier as we return to Dirona. We’d had a wonderful first day in Belfast and the city felt as safe as any we’d visited, with no sign of “The Troubles“.
10/24/2017
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Limelight

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club is one of our favourite bands and we’d been following their European tour dates to see if they’d line up with our travels. It was looking like we would be in Belfast when they were playing at the Limelight, so we bought tickets a week ago and here were are. The Limelight is a famous venue for live bands, so it was exciting to be here, but especially to see BRMC.

After a great meal as the iconic Crown Liquor Saloon, we walked to the Limelight club and arrived early enough to get a spot up front.

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Restavrant

The backup band for BMRC, Restavrant, is not really our style, but they have in incredible amount of energy and we actually really enjoyed their show. If you look closely at the drum set, you’ll see it’s all old parts he’s found in a junkyard with the stand being a suitcase, the cymbal an old Texas automobile license plate, and the drums various cast-off items.
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Sound Board

Looking across the sound board to the bar at the side of the Limelight. When we lived in Toronto we often watched live bands in small venues like this, and haven’t really done much of that since leaving Canada. It was great to be back in a live-music venue again. Note the decorations on the ceiling and walls— Hallowe’en is a big deal in Northern Ireland.
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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

The Black Rebel Motorcycle Club put on a fabulous show, and we were only feet from the stage.
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Robert Levon Been

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club guitarist and singer Robert Levon Been playing to the crowd.
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Great Evening

Robert Levon Been, from the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, said “It’s great to be back in Belfast. You make us feel simultaneously safe and yet, at the same time, petrified.” We agree.

It’s impossible not to reflect on years of news coverage on how dangerous Belfast was, even though those years are actually distant memories now. In some ways it makes Belfast a more exciting place to be. There’s no question it’s now a world-class city and is well-worth visiting. Every place we went the Irish were warm and friendly, and we always felt safe.

Show locations on map Click the travel log icon on the left to see these locations on a map, with the complete log of our cruise.

On the map page, clicking on a camera or text icon will display a picture and/or log entry for that location, and clicking on the smaller icons along the route will display latitude, longitude and other navigation data for that location. And a live map of our current route and most recent log entries always is available at http://mvdirona.com/maps.

 
 


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