Category Archives: Belfast

Why Belfast?

“Why Belfast?”

When I announced my travel plans, that was the universal response. After all, I’m from the generation that remembers from childhood the grim announcements on the radio; the litany of bloody place names, the growing lists of victims.

Truth be told, I wanted to go to Belfast because I was curious. And because a whole 19 years after the last bomb attack in Northern Ireland, I figured it might just be alright.

But more than I was curious about Belfast, the main purpose of my visit was to see the Giant’s Causeway. Its been on my bucket list for years and years and years. And finally I had the chance to make my dreams come true. Read more…

Belfast: contemporary jewellery

Is it a shop? Is it a gallery?

Steensons’ own design: “Daybreak”. Silver, black and rhodium plate with 18ct gold detail.

Its a shop – Steensons – widely recognised as Belfast’s leading contemporary jewellery retailer. Located at Bedford House, Bedford Street, it may look like an art gallery with its carefully placed glass cases. But this is a friendly, relaxing shop with browsers absolutely welcome.

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Belfast: traditional jewellery

Sorry about the picture, but very difficult for an amateur like me to get a good quality shot of this Belfast institution. Isn’t it a striking shop-front, though? Or maybe I just can’t resist a beautiful clock. Apparently its Edwardian and listed – and well-deservedly so.

Fred J Malcolm is slap bang in the city centre at 18 Chichester Street. And what is really striking about this shop is the sheer numbers of people who stop to look at the window display. There is no such thing as a  quiet moment here. Read more…

Ulster Museum: jewellery collection – the corals

Ulster Museum: coral “Cavan brooch”, mid-19th century

Ulster Museum: coral brooch and earrings, 19th century

The Ulster Museum sits serenely in the town’s Botanic Gardens, and its clearly a hit with tourists and locals alike. There’s something for everyone here in its electic displays, including for lovers of jewellery.

The museum is one of just a handful in the UK to house part of the Anne Hull Grundy jewellery collection.  Appropriately enough, the pieces to be found in the Ulster Museum are some of the finest examples of 19th century Irish jewellery in that collection. There are six cases worth spanning several centuries, and a very informative guide which explains, amongst other things, why some jewels are so much sparklier than others … Read more…

Ulster Museum: jewellery collection – the marbles

These two distinctive pieces from the collection of the Ulster Museum could only be from Ireland …

Ulster Museum: Connemara marble brooches, mid-late 19th century


This marble from the Irish Republic was formed around 600 million years ago, but mining only started at the beginning of the 19th century. It’s a distinctive green/gold colour, and unique to the Connemara area. These pieces are so small that they’re a little overwhelmed by the larger and flashier elements of the collection. Nevertheless, they caught my eye because I love marble and I love their understatement.  They deserve their place in the display case.

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. Read more…