|Trilogy of Cities, Pt 3: Belfast in Context and Sheep as Neighbours.|
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Wednesday, 18th June 2014
Belfast is one of those places that get in the news a lot – unfortunately for the wrong reasons; IRA, bombs, police clashes;
Movies made about Northern Ireland reinforce the idea that it’s a divided city, full of hate and violence, neighbor against neighbor....
And so as I was being driven from southern Ireland to the north, I thought there’d at least be a wall or some sort of barricade that said I had entered a different zone but you hardly notice it except for a friendly sign that says, “Welcome to Northern Ireland”.
Ah, how long I’ve wanted to see this sign. This is the last of the Great Britain cities I have yet to discover. London, Cardiff, Dublin, Edinburgh, Glasgow – and Belfast’s long been on my list of cities to visit and see for myself what it’s actually like.
As with anything else, there’s nothing like an actual visit to put things in perspective. One of the “problem” areas is a small section in east Belfast and you can see walls built between neighbours’ houses, giving it a fortress effect.
Huge murals on the walls speak of hope and reconciliation, some of hatred and violence. They lend a gritty arty feel to the precinct.
That day we were there, police cars were out in force – there was going to be a parade and they were taking precautions. You can sense there is some degree of tension still – years of sectarian hatred never quite go away.
Away from this area though and Belfast is like any city with ambitions and dreams. I spent a morning in the St George's Market, located in Belfast City Centre and close to the River Lagan.
There I had a typical Irish breakfast which if you had everyday you’d die of clogged arteries. The portions are huge, the sausages greasy and the baps, well, bleeding big.
At this market, you can buy lots of Northern Irish goods and craft – I bought homemade marmalade, candles and craft to bring home as gifts. I like the pride they have in local produce, after all, Northern Ireland is still largely rural.
Read the full report HERE