We have noticed that many people in NZ are a little hazy on the geography of Ireland, so to start, a brief lesson.
The island of Ireland is about 80% occupied by the Republic of Ireland whose capital city is Dublin. It was under British control until 1922, when it gained its independence. At the top end of the island is Northern Ireland which is still part of the UK. The capital city is Belfast. About 2/3 of its population regard themselves as British and about 1/3 see themselves as Irish, so it seems likely to stay part of the UK for the foreseeable future. From 1969 there was virtually civil war as the Republicans (IRA) attempted to force Britain to give up its Northern Ireland province. By 1998 this had died down and since then, Belfast in particular has developed as a tourist destination.
Belfast is just over 2 hours away by train from Dublin so since we had a Monday public holiday, we travelled up there last weekend. We will put in a separate post about “The Troubles”, as the events of 1970-1994 are called, but here are a few comments about the rest of Belfast.
Photo 1: The official name for this statue is the Beacon of Hope but it is known to the locals as the Thing with the Ring and/or Nuala with the Hula, continuing a tradition of derogatory terms for statues in Ireland. In Dublin, the statue of Molly Malone with her wheelbarrow is known as the Tart with the Cart and another piece of public art, a woman reclining in a pool, is referred to as the Floosie in the Jacuzzi.
Photo 2: A view of the river Lagan.
Photo 3: An interesting pub.
Photo 4: The Irish love a parade. This one was to commemorate the start of World War 1.
Photo 5: Bruce outside the Harland and Wolff shipyards in 1912. Part of an interactive museum dedicated to the Titanic which was built in Belfast. We spent a good 2 hours here and enjoyed every minute. A superb facility. Photo 6 shows the exterior of the building that houses the museum. It is known to the locals, ironically, as the Iceberg!
Photo 7: Yet another sculpture. The “Salmon of Knowledge”. This refers to an Irish myth about a chieftain who ate a salmon and by doing so gained all the knowledge in the world. Tourists are encouraged to kiss the Salmon of Knowledge thereby becoming smarter – if they’re going to fall for that, they certainly could do with a bit more smartness…