Belfast’s Best Bricks

We all know bricks ain’t rocks in any way, shape or form. But as I can never resist street art, and as Belfast’s political murals are so evocative and special, I wanted to mention them here.

Catholic West Belfast: mural by the Divis Flats.

If you know where to look, there’s nothing to stop you taking yourself to West Belfast and  discovering the murals solo. For a more sobering experience, take a guided tour. All the tour guides have first-hand experience of involvement in “The Troubles”; and its just the luck of the draw whether you’ll hear the Protestant or Catholic perspective. We booked with Belfast Mural Tours and our guide  – the very and eloquent Joe – served in the British Army in Belfast. He has survived being shot at – more than once – and having a bomb placed under his own car.

Joe was very informative and very patient with all our questions but, ironically, most of the murals we saw were on the Catholic side of town.  Whilst they’re not great art, they are rich in symbolism and emotion. The mural of hunger striker Bobby Sands on the wall of Sinn Fein headquarters is perhaps the best known of all.

Catholic West Belfast: Bobby Sands

 

Other murals along the Falls Road tap into twentieth century Republican history.

Catholic West Belfast: from home rule …

 

… to the hunger strikers

 

On the Protestant side of West Belfast we had a better view of the walls and fences that divide the two communities of the district. I’ve also included an image of one the security barriers, kept locked shut between 7pm and 7am every day to keep the two sides apart.

Protestant West Belfast: fenced out or fenced in?

Protestant West Belfast: gated community

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