I stopped briefly in Belfast on my way back from a trip to the Giant’s Causeway a few days ago. Just as sunny as March, I now got to take pictures of the Titanic Experience, which opened in April. But that is another post.
We rolled up at about six on our way out of town to take some whirlwind snaps and pick up some other people heading for Dublin. The result is quite urban. Visiting Belfast is unlike any other city I have ever visited and I can’t really explain why. Fun blog – I know.
The Albert Memorial Clock Tower is slightly off plumb, making it the Leaning Tower of Belfast. I got a couple of good looking photos from the coach.
The first stop was 20 minutes north of Dublin at Drogheda. A strategically iconic point in history as being the location of the Battle of the Boyne where protestant William of Orange defeated the catholic King James in 1690. We were there to see the severed head of St. Oliver Plunkett who was hung, drawn and quartered for treason in 1681. Some how the head made it home to St Peter’s church where he was canonised in 1975 and visited by Pope John Paul II in 1979.
Next we moved on to Monasterboice, essentially a small graveyard off the main highway. This small graveyard has two very important claims to fame. The first is that it is home to the largest high cross in Ireland. Muirdach’s Cross, erected 900 – 923 AD, is the best example of a high cross. High crosses are elaborately carved and were originally painted for use by early monks as they taught the pagan population the stories of the bible.
Behind the crosses is what J. K. Rowling would describe as a “large, admonitory finger.” The graveyard also sports a round tower. At about 30m high and containing at least four levels, round towers were used by resident monks as hide outs from raiding vikings. That is until the vikings realized they could burn them down.
Full steam ahead from there to Belfast city. We had lunch and free time to walk about the CBD. There is a nice viewing platform at the top of Victoria Square. 360 degree views of the city.
When we finally got to Belfast we were told that we didn’t have enough people for a Black Taxi tour. I have been often told that this is the best way to experience Belfast with history from people who have lived it. Instead we visited Belfast Castle and it’s beautiful grounds. Most large tours don’t go there due to parking and access issues so we felt as though we were receiving a treat!
Belfast is interesting to just walk around. Just a stroll from my hostel was Queens University and the museum (closed Mondays). So I opted for meandering around the dormant botanic gardens. After some more daffodils and a red robin I declared the walk a success.