Belfast, Northern Ireland

This was a weekend trip taken May 2012 . We travelled with EasyJet from London Gatwick to Belfast International.

Upon arrival we collected our hire car and drove to the Premier Inn in Lisburn, a short drive away from Belfast city. We were very happy with this choice of Premier Inn; it was comfortable, the staff were pleasant and the food that was served in the attached restaurant was good.

Day 1 – Titanic

Titanic Museum Belfast

This picture shows the Titanic Museum with the original Harland and Wolff drawing rooms and offices to the left. The long poles either side of the grass are all that is left of the original gantry where Titanic was built. This outside area is well worth a visit and is a public area so there is no charge.

It is possible to book tours of the drawing offices and pump house either with museum tickets or as an independent tour but at around ₤5 each we decided against this.

The Titanic Museum claims to be the largest Titanic Visitor Attraction. It is a very impressive building but sadly the contents are unimpressive and more reminiscent of a 1970s museum than a state-of-the-art 21st century attraction. I was so let down by the museum that I posted the following review on Tripadvisor:

What it does contain – The exhibition begins with a look at the rise of Belfast as an industrial city looking at shipbuilding and linen making. There was also a section looking at Harland and Wolff and emigration from Ireland to America. The next sections were full of facts and figures about the size of the boilers, funnels etc. There were also statistics relating to the numbers of passengers and also those that survived or died. There is a small area devoted to all the books, films and music published relating to the Titanic and also a section that looks at the wreck of the ship as discovered by Robert Ballard.

What it lacks – The exhibition lacks a sense of drama, there was virtually nothing about the hitting of the iceberg or the actual sinking and no sense of the horror that must have been experienced by the crew when it was learned that the ship was actually sinking.

Also lacking was the personal side to the tragedy – there was no mention of the well known stories such as the Alice Cleaver the Allison nursemaid who left the ship with baby Trevor while the rest of the family missed the lifeboats looking for their son, or of the Duff Gordons who left the ship in a boat filled with just 12 people when it could have carried 70 or the men that survived by standing on the upside down collapsible lifeboat B or any of the hundreds of other such stories.

It also lacks information on the boilermen and electricians who kept lights burning and the davits working so that people could leave the ship in the lifeboats. There was no informaton on the Californian – the ship nearby that had turned off its radio or the Californian – the ship that came to the rescue.

There was no information of the conspiracies or controversies surrounding the ship – was the ship actually the Olympic and part of an insurance fraud, was it cursed by a mummy, was there a fire that raged in coal bunker no 10 and weakened the steel, were the rivets made of cheap material etc.

Finally there was no mention of the latest research regarding the sinking and the work done recently by James Cameron looking at the debris on the bottom of the ocean and piecing together what had actually happened in the final moments of the ship.

Day 2 – Belfast Murals

The murals are spread over various locations around the Falls and Shankill Road areas of Belfast.

Rather than drive ourselves we decided to take a black cab tour. The black cabs can be found in the road opposite the Belfast City Hall. We had heard that the tours were superb and we weren’t disappointed. Our guide took us to see all the murals and was happy to stop at each so that we could take pictures. He also explained the history of the area and The Troubles from a local perspective using inside local knowledge which was very interesting, and enlightening. The pictures below are a selection of those taken on the tour.

Bombay Street Mural

Bobby Sands Mural

Shankhill Road Mural

Ulster Defence Mural

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