Belfast, Northern Ireland: Imagine …

Belfast riotsThere’s a calmness in West Belfast today that’s a far cry from the turbulence and tension of the Troubles, but for an insight into what it was like in Belfast in the 60s and 70s, we booked a black taxi tour with Belfast Attractions.
Pat (our guide, pictured below) took us down (Loyalist) Shankhill Road and (Republican) Falls Road with a commentary that was reassuring, knowledgable and carefully balanced.

Pat, driver for Belfast Attractions

The murals on both sides bring colour and vibrancy to an area that is economically depressed, but they are also a reminder of the tensions that remain. The ‘Peace Line’ dividing west Belfast with gates bolted at night symbolises the divisions.

Fence dividing Belfast

As I write this, these divisions are again evident – at the start of our taxi tour, we watched from behind armoured vans while police in full riot gear stood guard as Loyalist protesters marched on Belfast City Hall to demonstrate a decision reducing the number of days the Union Jack will fly over City Hall.

Riot Police

It’s just a short drive from downtown Belfast to the so-called Peace-Line, a wall of metal, concrete and barbed wire that has divided the Loyalist and Republican communities of West Belfast for more than 30 years. Begun in 1979 as a temporary measure, it is now older than the Berlin Wall.


Shankhill Road, Belfast



British Soldier

Ulster Hand

Hunger strikers

Bobby Sands


Bring down the walls, Belfast

Walls, Belfast

Black taxis, Belfast


Walls, Belfast

Bombay Street

Many parts of the wall are covered in art and graffiti and, following in the footsteps of other visitors, we added our names and messages. Next to ours, someone had quoted the words of John Lennon: “Imagine all the people living life in peace ….”
We can only hope. Ireland is too beautiful to rip itself apart.



Photos © Christine Salins & Maurie O’Connor

Fact file:

Belfast Attractions
+44 (0) 28 90 247797

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