Ireland day 0898. Thursday 14 March 2024- Belfast *

Ireland day 0898. Thursday 14 March 2024- Belfast
Today’s summary Saw another side to Belfast today.   Took the bus up to Crumlin Road gaol for Black Cab tour of the Protestant and Catholic communities and the “Peace” Wall.   Looked round the Gaol (now a visitor attraction) and then walked down to the Crown Liquor Saloon for a drink and to lighten the day.   All very thought-provoking
Today’s weather Poured with rain almost all day.   Moderate southerly wind.   Appx 10c
Today’s overview location
(The grey mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The orange line shows where we walked)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Crumlin Road

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

Throughout most of my youth, Belfast was never far away from the news headlines – for all the wrong reasons.   Although things have improved greatly since the Good Friday agreement in 1998 brought an end to the notorious “Troubles”, sectarian tensions still exist.   We had seen evidence of this when we visited Derry / Londonderry last year, but never been into the troubled areas of Belfast on any of our visits here over the years.   In the past, to be frank, it was just too dangerous.

Anyway, today a whole industry has sprung up taking visitors round the “sights” of the “Troubles”.  So we got the bus up to the Crumlin Road gaol (now closed) and went on a black cab tour round the Protestant and Catholic communities, and the “Peace” wall that separates them.   Our guide was Danny, who was about the same age as us, and who was himself a former convict held for three years in the Crumlin Road gaol.

The tour was excellent and to see so much tension still apparently alive and well, was sobering and a bit depressing.   I’d recommend everyone should go, particularly anyone who wants to see a very different example of what life can be like in some parts of the UK.

Once the tour was finished, we went into the gaol itself and had a quick lunch down in the “Cuffs” café.   From there, we took ourselves on the self-guided tour of the prison buildings, which once more was on the downbeat side, especially the morbid section about the 17 hangings that were carried out there over the 150 years the gaol was in use.

Finally, we escaped (unlike most of the inmates) and by this stage it had briefly stopped raining.   So we decided to walk down the Crumlin Road into town, and along to the Crown Liquor Store for a cheering drink.   The pub is actually run by the National Trust and features a labyrinth of cosy snugs where you can sit with your friends to enjoy a (relatively) quiet pint.   We of course partook and had an interesting chat with some Americans who joined us in “our” snug and who were visiting Ireland in search of their ancestors.

From there, it was a relatively short walk back to the hotel, but very wet as by this stage it was pouring with rain again.   Dinner in the Great Room restaurant in the hotel – a splendid legacy of the Ulster Bank which originally occupied these premises.

A good day, even if not always a particularly cheerful one.


Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Mural commemorating a particularly murderous Protestant paramilitary figure In “no mans land” between the two communities.   I was somewhat surprised to learn the gates in the walls are locked every night at about 7pm 
Bobby Sands (a hunger striker) decorating one of the walls in the Catholic area Crumlin Road Gaol – opened in 1846 and shut down in 1996 
Inside Block C of the Crumlin Road Gaol – originally designed to hold 1 inmate per cell, at the height f the Troubles, inmates were packed in three to a cell and the gaol became badly overcrowded A bit of light relief in the excellent Crown Liquor Saloon.   It’s full of history and is actually owned by the National Trust
The so-called “Peace” Wall, dividing protestant and catholic communities.   It’s immense, to stop petrol bombs being thrown over
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 2260 m
Max elevation: 27 m
Min elevation: 3 m
Total climbing: 14 m
Total descent: -38 m
Total time: 00:30:04
Download file: Down-the-Crumlin-Road-to-the-pub-compressed-corrected.gpx

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