Bucket List #3: Belfast

I admit, right now, I’m obsessed with Europe. Most of the travel bloggers I follow have an affinity towards tropical places, which is totally fine! As I’m able to get out and see more, I’m sure my taste in destinations will evolve as well. For now, however, I’m stuck on Europe! The idea to write about Belfast comes from my trip to Ireland. While I was at the Summerfire Conference in Cork, Ireland, there was a family from Belfast that our group got to know. They were extremely kind, and the way they described Belfast made me want to go so badly! One thing that still baffles me is how close most places are in Europe. While in Cork, we were only about 4 hours from Belfast. It would take me longer to get from Indianapolis to Canton, OH where we visit family 3 or 4 times a year. Anyways, let’s talk about Belfast!

First: Titanic Belfast.

Other than having seen the movie, Titanic, I literally knew nothing about it until going to Ireland in 2018. It was here that I learned the Titanic was built in Belfast, and that it’s final docking location was Cobh. I’d never really equated the movie to real life places until I saw the exhibit in Cobh. At Titanic Belfast, there are guided tours that take you around the dock, the slipway, and there’s also admission to the SS Nomadic, which was the Titanic’s tender. I actually had to do a fair amount of research on ship terminology while preparing to write today (mostly because I’ve never been around ships before, other than taking one little ferry from Ft. Lauderdale to the Bahamas). A ship’s tender refers to a larger boat that’s responsible for transport people and supplies to and from the shore/other boats to this particular ship. This being said, by boarding the SS Nomadic, you’re boarding the ship that actually took passengers and their luggage to and from the Titanic. This ship has a very long and colorful history, but it’s relationship to the Titanic definitely gives it it’s allure.

Next: Crumlin Road Gaol and Ulster Museum.

Yes, these are two different places, but I lumped them into one point because I have the same goal with each: learning more about “The Troubles.” If you aren’t familiar with The Troubles, this is a conflict that took place from the 1960s to the late 1990s with the primary problem being that one side wanted to separate from the UK, and the other side didn’t. This sometimes gets labeled a religious war because one side was predominantly Protestant, and the other was predominantly Catholic, but the religious aspect wasn’t the primary reason for fighting. This is my understanding on the conflict from my research and from a couple conversations I had with people during my time in Ireland. If I’m in any way wrong about my claims above, please call me on it by dropping a comment below! The two places I referenced above as destinations are listed as opportune places to visit if you’re interested in learning more about The Troubles, which I most certainly am. The Crumlin Road Gaol (aka, the Crum) is a Victorian Era prison that was closed from holding prisoners in 1996, but holds a ton of historical value. What I’d be interested in is a tour called the Crumlin Road Gaol Troubles Tour (learn more about it as this link: https://www.inyourpocket.com/belfast/crumlin-road-gaol-visitor-attraction-conference_27950v). The Ulster Museum is another great place to go to learn about The Troubles. This museum, however, also has a number of great things, including fine art, sculptures, and a 2500 year old mummy. On Friday, March 20th, 2018 (20 year anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, effectively ending the Troubles), the Ulster Museum opened a new gallery called “The Troubles and Beyond,” providing images, objects, and perspective into what happened in those three decades, and how the country has moved past it into the present day.

Last: The Parliament Buildings.

The Parliament Buildings in Northern Ireland are gorgeous. They’re located on the Stormont Estate, which is home to the Stormont Castle, Stormont House, Parliament Buildings, Dundonald House, and a few other government buildings. The property as a whole is astonishing. The Parliament Buildings are revered as somewhat controversial, however. Sinn Fein, a political party in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, claimed that the building was too closely associated with Unionist rule (political party that professed loyalty to the United Kingdom). From what I’ve read, they were the only party concerned with this, so the call for a new parliament building diminished. My interest in visiting the Parliament Buildings comes from a renewed political interest that I’ve discovered in the last 3-4 months. I have my views on politics, but I’d like to think of myself as a very open-minded person that’s willing to have a conversation and learn. This drives me to learn more about the government and political systems of other countries from a non-judgmental perspective. Almost every system has its good and bad, so this would be a deeper dive into the political climate of Northern Ireland that I would find extremely enjoyable.

Here’s are some honorable mentions that I’d certainly like to visit when we visit Belfast, but I just didn’t include them on my three writing topics!

The Belfast Castle, Grand Opera House, St. George’s Market, and again, having as much food as possible that’s more native to Northern Ireland! I hope you enjoyed today’s post, have a great rest of your day!

Blessings,
Madison