It’s not often when you can learn from graffiti. The street art which in many cities is nothing but some annoying letters painted on the wall, in Belfast it is at a level you will never imagine. The old notion of graffiti is taken over by the new art work, made in so deep detail and with so many ideas.
This morning, before heading to the airport, we had only 1 hour to spend in the city and I just wanted to visit the Whiterock area. I don’t know why this area seemed to be the most interesting one when I searched about the murals on this website. As soon as you leave Fall’s Road you will have on your left a cemetery guarded by high and gray stones. Only when you get in the top of the hill you observe the graves, aligned in the biggest cemetery I’ve ever seen. The neighborhood is called Ballymurphy and it is know for the civilians killed in 1971 by the British army. More details about the massacre here. We didn’t had time to see all the murals, but the ones we saw were transmitting powerful feelings about war and peace, about things lost and things gained. In the front of some houses memorial plaques were displayed in order for people to read about the life of the one killed in 1971. Below some samples of the murals in the area (click on the photos for original size):
Being in a hurry we took a double deck bus to the city center from where bus 600 leaves to the George Best airport. The bus went on Fall’s Road, which was one of the best things for us: we hadn’t had the chance to see the Fall’s Road murals during our stay and they are the most known and a top attraction. Being in the bus, on the first floor, right in front, the view was extraordinary and I am convinced that the world is different seen from above. But if we will ever go back in Belfast, we will have for sure 1 day for the murals. If you are going there I recommend you to do so too, it is a think that shouldn’t be missed.
As you may see the areas we’ve chosen are the areas known as the republican area. In the city there’s a conscious divide between protestants and catholics, between republicans and unionists even in our days. A few years back I’ve read a book written by Llosa about the Irish revolution and it somehow sadness me to see people longing so much for their true identity and another country to occupy a territory like in the old ages. Maybe I am wrong, but if you go in the bars and if you speak with Irish people they are still feeling that they don’t belong to UK, that they are part of the Republic of Ireland. What surprised me was to find out that there are still neighborhoods divided by religion and that this is one thing you should consider when you search for a house: if you are catholic you should move in a catholic neighborhood and if you are protestant you in a protestant one. Maybe there will be a day when religion will not count that much and people will be free to be whoever they want to be, without a great power suppressing over them.
Outside the political murals around the city center multiple streets seem to be combined in a colorful labyrinth. On a Friday evening the streets are crowded and the city has a special vibe I never felt in NL: people laughing and speaking loud, live (Irish) music, good beer and a energetic background noise.
Murals around the Duke of York:
Murals on Garfield Street:
If you are heading to Northern Ireland for cliffs and nature and clover fields (like I had in mind) a walk around the streets of Belfast will show you another side of the Irish world. I highly recommend it!