St George’s Market Belfast established 1604

Belfast city marketsThere has been a Friday market on the St. George’s site since 1604. The present St. George’s Market, built 1890-1896, is one of Belfast’s oldest attractions. As well as being home to some of the finest fresh produce, with customers travelling near and far to sample the delights of Friday and Saturday markets, it has become one of the City’s most popular places to visit. Since its £4.5m refurbishment in 1997, this charming Victorian building offers one of the most vibrant and colourful destinations that Belfast has to offer. St. George’s Market has just been voted one of the top 5 UK markets in 2006 by the National Association of British Market Authorities.

The Friday Variety Market opens at 6.00am until 1.00pm. This is a hugely vibrant retail experience of 248 market stalls selling diverse wares from Atlantic Shark to zips, antiques to fresh fruit. The fish section alone contains 23 fish stalls and holds the reputation for being the leading retail fish market in Ireland. It is this eclectic mix that attracts thousands of people along each week to probably the best market in Northern Ireland. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement as you barter with the friendly local stall holders for a bargain.

The City Food & Garden Market takes place in St George’s every Saturday from 9.00am to 3.00pm. Enjoy the best food tastes and smells brought by local producers, including beef from Armagh, award winning Irish Farmhouse Cheeses, free range eggs from Limavady, venison, pheasant in season and local organic vegetables from Culdrum Farm and Millbrook Farm.

In addition to these local delicacies, there is also a fusion of tempting continental and speciality foods from around the world. Included are such delights as wild boar, cured meats, venison, Spanish tapas, Caribbean foods, Mexican and Slavonic foods, continental coffees and teas, Italian olive oils with traditional French Crepes and extraordinary French pastries to mention just a few. Added to this plethora of tempting foods the Saturday market also encompasses flower stalls ensuring this Saturday market is a kaleidoscope of colour.

St. Georges City Food & Garden Market is more than just a shopping experience. Customers can sample the produce, relax with a coffee and a newspaper against a backdrop of live jazz or flamenco music. This market is a real Saturday treat and a great outing for all the family.

**In a survey published by The Guardian newspaper’s travel section in January 2010, St. George’s Market came sixth in the UK ‘top ten’.**

Belfasts Black Santa

The “Black Santa” tradition at Belfast Cathedral was started by Dean Sammy Crooks in 1976. Concerned at the emphasis being placed on necessary and costly building programmes at the Cathedral, Dean Crooks decided to stand on Donegal Street in front of the Cathedral and beg for the poor and charitable causes.

With a small barrel in which donations could be placed, and dressed in the familiar black, Anglican clerical cloak, Dean Crooks “sat out” each day of the week before Christmas. Thus began the tradition of Belfast’s Deans sitting out for charities. The local press described Dean Crooks as, Belfast’s Black Santa, and the description struck a lasting chord with the public.

Dean Crooks was succeeded by Dean Jack Shearer who involved members of the Cathedral Chapter in the Sit out. Under his leadership the event continued to develop so that by his last Sit out in 2000, a total of £2.2 million pounds had been raised for charities over the previous 24 years.  Dean Houston McKelvey maintained this tradition throughout his ten years in office and the current Dean, John Mann has continued to do so.

The commencement of the Sit out attracts considerable attention in the local press, radio and television. The leaders of the four main Churches in Ireland, the Lord Mayor of Belfast and many other community leaders call at the Cathedral to greet the Dean…and to contribute!

All the money gathered is donated to local charities with a proportion given to Christian Aid. The range of charities includes medical research; those caring for children, youth and the elderly; the improvement of employment opportunities for young people and a host of small charities which cannot afford paid fund-raisers.

Most of the money donated is given by people who come to the Cathedral during the Sit out. Contributions are made by individuals, families, schools, offices and workplaces.

Some schools send the collection from their Christmas Carol Services or the proceeds of their Christmas Shows. Some school choirs and bands come and perform on the cathedral steps during the Sit out. To the fore amongst the schools are the students of Fleming Fulton School who all cope daily with physical disability. Despite the problems with which they and their families cope with daily, they have an annual ‘Pennies from Heaven’ appeal for the Sit out for which they collect coins in Coke bottles. They have raised thousands of pounds for the Sit out in this way.

Some donors collect in the same way, all the year round, for the Sit out by emptying their pockets and purses each day and placing pennies, tuppences, five and ten pence coins in tins, or jars or bottles which they bring to the Cathedral. Many donors send a cheque by post to the Dean and a high percentage of these “Gift Aid” their donations, enabling them to be enhanced through the income tax being recovered.

Belfast West Belfast and the Murals

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 Belfast West Belfast And The Murals

  • The Mural Symbols Of West Belfast.
  • PROTESTANT MURALS. Blue, White, and Red: The colors of the British flag; often painted on curbs and signposts to demarcate Unionist murals and neighborhoods. The Red Hand: The crest of Ulster Province, the central symbol of the Ulster flag, which includes a red cross on a white background, used by Unionists to emphasize the separation of Ulster from the Republic. Symbolizes the hand of the first Norse King, which he supposedly cut off and threw on a Northern beach to establish his primacy. (The crest also appears on Catholic murals which depict the 4 ancient provinces—evidence of the overlap in heritage.) King Billy/William of Orange: Sometimes depicted on a white horse, crossing the Boyne to defeat the Catholic King James II at the 1690 Battle of the Boyne. Ironically, his campaign was funded by the Pope, who opposed James’ creation of the Church of England. The Orange Order was later founded in his honor. The Apprentice Boys: A group of young men who shut the gates of Derry to keep out the troops of James II, beginning the great siege of 1689. They have become Protestant folk heroes, inspiring a sect of the Orange order in their name. The slogan “No Surrender,” also from the siege, has been appropriated by radical Unionists, most notably Rev. Ian Paisley. Lundy: The Derry leader who advocated surrender during the siege; now a term for anyone who wants to give in to Catholic demands. Scottish Flag: Blue with a white cross; recalls the Scottish-Presbyterian roots of many Protestants whose ancestors were part of the Ulster Plantation (see Cromwell).
  • CATHOLIC MURALS. Orange and Green: Colors of the Irish Republic’s flag; often painted on curbs, mailboxes, and signposts in Republican neighborhoods. The Irish Volunteers: Republican tie to the earlier (nonsectarian) Nationalists. Saoirse: Irish for “Freedom”; the most common term found on murals. Éireann go bráth: (erin-go-BRAH) “Ireland forever”; a popular IRA slogan. Tiocfaidh ár lá: (CHOCK-ee-ar-LA) “Our day will come.” Slan Abhaile: (Slawn ah-WAH-lya) “Safe home”; directed at the primarily Protestant RUC police force. Phoenix: Symbolizes united Ireland rising from the ashes of British persecution. Lug: Celtic god, seen as the protector of the “native Irish” (Catholics). Green Ribbon: IRA symbol for “free our POWs.” Bulldog: Britain. Bowler Hats: A symbol for Orangemen.

West Belfast has historically been at the heart of political tensions in the North. The Catholic area (centered on Falls Road) and the Protestant neighborhood (centered on the Shankill) are separated by the peace line, a grim, gray wall with a number of gates that close at nightfall. Along the wall, abandoned buildings and barricaded homes testify to a tumultuous history and an uneasy future. One bit of the peace line, near Lanark Way, connecting the Falls and Springfield roads, contains peace paintings and signatures—left mostly by tourists—promoting hope for a brighter future. The Falls and Shankill exude both the raw sentiment that drives the Northern Irish conflict and the casual calm with which those closest to the Troubles approach daily life. West Belfast is not a tourist site in the traditional sense, though the walls and houses along the area’s streets display political murals which speak to Belfast’s religious and political divide. These murals are the city’s most striking and popular attraction.

Those traveling to these sectarian neighborhoods often take black taxis, or open top tour buses transporting passengers along their set routes. Some black taxis and black cabs can also be booked for tours of the Falls or Shankill.

New murals in the Falls and Shankill are constantly produced. The Falls. This Catholic and Republican neighborhood is larger than Shankill, following Castle St. west from the city center. As Castle St. continues across A12/Westlink, it becomes Divis Street. A high-rise apartment building marks Divis Tower, an ill-fated housing development built by optimistic social planners in the 1960s. The project soon became an IRA stronghold and saw some of the worst of Belfast’s Troubles in the 1970s. The British Army still occupies the top floors.

Continuing west, Divis St. turns into Falls Road. The Sinn Féin office is easily spotted: one side of it is covered with an enormous portrait of Bobby Sands (see The Troubles) and an advertisement for the Sinn Féin newspaper, An Phoblacht. Continuing down Falls Rd. reveals a number of murals, most of which are on side streets. In the past both the Falls and the Shankill contained many representations of paramilitaries (the IRA in the Falls, UVF and UDA in the Shankill) with armed men in balaclavas; this and commemorative murals were the main subjects in the past, but both communities have focused on historical and cultural representations for the newest murals, even replacing many older works. The newest Falls murals recall the ancient Celtic heritage of myths and legends, and depict The Great Hunger, the phrase Northern Catholics use to refer to the Famine. Earlier militant murals certainly still exist including a few that depict the Republican armed struggle.

Falls Rd. soon splits into Andersonstown Road and Glen Road, one of the few urban areas with a predominately Irish-speaking population. On the left are the Celtic crosses of Milltown Cemetery, the resting place of many fallen Republicans. Inside the entrance, a memorial to Republican casualties is bordered by a low, green fence on the right; the grave of Bobby Sands lies here. Nearby, Bombay Street was the first street to be burned down during the Troubles. Another mile along Andersontown Rd. lies a housing project that was formerly a wealthy Catholic neighborhood—and more murals. The Springfield Rd. Police Service of Northern Ireland station, previously named the RUC station, was the most attacked police station in Ireland and the UK. It was recently demolished, perhaps as a sacrifice to the peace process. Its defenses were formidable, and the Andersonstown Barracks, at the corner of Glen and Andersonstown Rd., are still heavily fortified.

Shankill. The Shankill Rd. begins at the Westlink and turns into Woodvale Rd. as it crosses Cambrai St. The Woodvale Rd. intersects the Crumlin Road at the Ardoyne roundabout and can be taken back into the city center. The Shankill Memorial Garden honors 10 people who died in a bomb attack on Fizzel’s Fish Shop in October 1993; the garden is on the Shankill Rd., facing Berlin St. On the Shankill Rd., farther toward the city center, is a mural of James Buchanan, the 15th President of the United States (1857-1861), who was a descendant of Ulster Scots (known in the US as the “Scots-Irish”). Other cultural murals depict the 50th Jubilee of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth in 1952 and the death of the Queen Mother in 2002. These are at the beginning of the Shankill near the Rex Bar. Historical murals include a memorial to the UVF who fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 during WWI also near the Rex Bar. In the Shankill Estate, some murals represent Cromwell suppressing the 1741 Rebellion against the Protestant plantation owners. The densely decorated Orange Hall sits on the left at Brookmount St. McClean’s Wallpaper; on the right was where Fizzel’s Fish Shop stood before being demolished. Through the estate, Crumlin Rd. heads back to the city center, passing an army base, the courthouse, and the jail.

Sandy Row And Newtownards Road. This area’s Protestant population is growing steadily, partly due to the redevelopment of the Sandy Row area, and also because many working-class residents are leaving the Shankill. This stretch is a turn off Donegall Rd. at Shaftesbury Sq. An orange arch topped with King William once marked its start. Nearby murals show the Red Hand of Ulster, a bulldog, and William crossing the Boyne. East Belfast is a secure and growing Protestant enclave, but as in other areas use caution when traveling in this area around Marching Season. A number of murals line Newtownards Rd. One mural depicts the economic importance of the shipyard to the city’s industrial history. On the Ballymacart road, which runs parallel to Newtownards Rd., is a mural of local son C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Visiting Belfasts Donegall Square

Donegall Sq. marks the northern boundary of the Golden Mile and the southern end of the pedestrian-only Cornmarket district. City hall, once a favorite target for IRA bombers, dominates Belfast’s old city center.

Why not visit Linen Hall Library or Belfast City Hall, on our Titanic Belfast day tours from Dublin. The most dramatic and impressive piece of architecture in Belfast is also its administrative and geographic center. Towering over the grassy square that serves as the locus of downtown Belfast, its green copper dome (173 ft. high) is visible from nearly any point in the city. Inside, a grand staircase ascends to the second floor, where portraits of the city’s Lord Mayors line the halls, moving down the wall each year as the latest portrait is hung. Stained glass and huge paintings depicting all aspects of Belfast industry highlight the impressive rotunda, while glass and marble shimmer in three elaborate reception rooms. The City Council’s oak-paneled chambers, used only once per month, are deceptively austere, considering the Council’s reputation for rowdy meetings (fists have been known to fly).

Directly in front of the main entrance, an enormous marble Queen Victoria stares down visitors with her trademark formidable grimace, while bronze figures representing Shipbuilding and Spinning kneel at her feet. A more sympathetic figure of womanhood stands on East grounds, commemorating the fate of the Titanic and her passengers. The interior is accessible only by guided tour. (tours M-F 11am, 2, 3pm, Sa 2 and 3pm. Tour times may vary; no tours on Bank and Public Holidays.

Other Sights. One of Belfast’s oldest establishments is the Linen Hall Library with the red hand of Ulster atop its street entrance. The devoted librarians have compiled a famous collection of over a quarter million items documenting the social and political history of Northern Ireland since 1966. (Enter via 52 Fountain St. Free tours available, but call ahead. Open M-F 9:30am-5:30pm, Sa 9:30am-1pm.) Nearby, the Victorian Scottish Provident Institution, built in 1902, displays a facade featuring panels dedicated to the four main professions of Belfast’s industrial history—shipbuilding, ropemaking, spinning, and printing. (Across the street from City Hall, on the corner of Donegall Sq. N. and East Bedford St)

Crown Bar Belfast

Famous Belfast pubs                                                                                                                                                                Visit Crown Bar in Belfast, on one of our spectacular Belfast day tours from Dublin. Book your seats to visit Titanic Belfast experience. The Crown Liquor Saloon in Victoria Street is more than just a bar- it is a landmark that has stood the test of time in Belfast and still remains a popular destination       for tourists and residents of this bustling city. The Crown bar is well known, not only for its friendly service, but also for the unique way in which it has been decorated.

Its is known as the birthplace of the Rhythm and Blues movement in the city of Belfast. The staff at the Crown Bar welcome those that pass through Belfast to visit their establishment and meet new friends, taste some of their traditional and contemporary dining delights, and listen to the band playing well into the night.

The Tradition of Snug Booths – 10 Snug Booths are available to customers within the Crown Bar and, while they are extremely comfortable and provide a more secluded experience within the bar, they have a rich history within Belfast. These booths were originally designed for those people who wanted to stop by for a drink but did not want others to see them d

o so. The booths are shaped like boxes with a door that confines the occupant to the booth and those that were in the bar could not see into the booths when the customers were seated inside.

Today, these booths have become one of the most popular aspects of the Crown Bar and they are fitted with gun metal plates that can be used to light matches, as well as bells that the clients can ring when they want another drink from the bar.

History and Restoration of the Crown Bar – The Crown Bar was originally owned by Felix O’Hanlon who named it the Railway Tavern. It was then sold to another owner who then resold it to his son and this is where it really took off. The son hired Italian craftsmen (who were working on Catholic churches at the time) to work on the bar at night, redecorating and restoring the bar to ensure that the outcome was spectacular- and it was. Many people feel as if they have walked into a church when they walk into this bar and the fine craftsmanship can be seen in every aspect of the building, from the stained-glass windows to the ornately designed bar. In 1981 the National Trust took over and restorations began to improve the look of the establishment.

Visiting Belfast check out the Crown Bar Saloon as its more than just a pub- it is a place where weary travellers can sit down, have a drink and share stories with other patrons. Making friends at the Crown Bar is easy and everyone is willing to share a story or two. Those that are passing through or visiting Belfast can get to know the real city of Belfast by visiting this landmark and getting to know the locals.

Crown Bar : 46 Great Victoria Street, Belfast, County Antrim BT2 7BA, United Kingdom

Visit Worlds Largest Titanic exhibition plus Belfast on a day tour from Dublin


Titanic Belfast day tours from DublinHistory of Belfast City Hall For many centuries, Belfast was a small settlement. Everything changed in 1613, when a Royal charter gave Belfast town status. It expanded rapidly, becoming an important port and manufacturing cent By the end of the 19th century, Belfast had outgrown its status as a town and was a major industrial powerhouse, known for its shipbuilding, rope making, engineering, tobacco and textile industries.

In 1888, Queen Victoria gave Belfast the title of city and it was generally agreed that a new city hall was needed to reflect this change in status.

Groups visiting Dublin are you interested in visiting the Worlds Largest Titanic exhibit plus plenty of free time to explore Belfast?

Building work Negotiations to acquire the one and a half acre White Linen Hall site, located in Donegall Square, began in 1896 and a price of £30,000 was agreed. Built by local firm…

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