Belfast Political Tour:
This tour concentrates on the development of the modern conflict in Belfast. Hear of the origins of the ‘Troubles’ from the Norman Invasion through the plantation, the Williamite wars, the Penal laws, the United Irishmen rebellion, Act of Union, Home Rule, IRA War of Independence and partition leading to the formation of the northern state. See the Stormont parliament buildings, home to the unionist-controlled government of Northern Ireland and home of the current power sharing parliament.
See the murals on the loyalist Newtonards Road and learn of the issues which affected the mainly Protestant unionist and loyalist communities during the troubles including sectarianism, loss of identity, the marching season, fragmentation, the love/hate relationship with the British Crown forces and population changes.
Visit the Falls Road, the heart of republicanism in Belfast to learn about the major events in republican Belfast during the conflict including the Falls Road Curfew, internment, the effect of Bloody Sunday in Derry, the 1972 & 1975 IRA ceasefires, the criminalisation of republican prisoners and the subsequent Hunger Strikes. Learn of the evolution of the peace process including secret IRA talks with the British government, the 1994 ceasefire, the involvement of the US government and Irish-America, the collapse of the ceasefire in 1996 and the Good Friday, St Andrews and Hillsborough agreements. Visit the Republican History Museum (admission free-donations welcome-insert link) and Milltown cemetery where Bobby Sands and his comrades are interred.
Visitors also get the chance to cross the famous peace line into the Shankill road where they can see more loyalist murals in the Shankill estate and see the famous Crumlin Road gaol, where its history of escapes, executions and trials are recounted in detail. Guided tours of the Crumlin Road Gaol can also be arranged (admission charge applies).
There will be ample opportunity en route to photograph the murals and monuments as well as the chance to write your own message on the Falls/Shankill peaceline. Along the way you will hear lots of the black humour which characterised Belfast during the conflict.
Belfast Coach Tour:
The coach tour incorporates all the major areas of Belfast. Take in the university area and hear about the famous Queens University campus, including its world famous alumni. See Great Victoria Street, the home of the Europa -the worlds most bombed hotel-the Crown bar and the Opera House as well as the famous City Hall and Linenhall library.
Visit the Falls, the heartland of republicanism in Belfast where a whole range of political murals and monuments are discussed. See the Springfield Road, home of the Black Mountain and cross the peaceline into the loyalist Shankill Road where more images of the ‘Troubles’ can be viewed and explained. We then proceed to the Titanic Quarter where the tumultuous story of the Titanic is related either by your guide or in greater detail in the new Titanic Visitor Centre (admission applies-insert link). On the way to the Stormont parliament buildings (home of the new power sharing government) hear of Belfast’s famous musical exports including Van Morrison, Snow Patrol and Gary Moore and see the road where C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia, once resided.
See the famous Crumlin Road Prison, Clifton Street Workhouse, St Anne’s Cathedral, the Albert Clock and the iconic Lanyon Building, the headquarters of Queens University which has produced luminaries such as Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney.
Belfast walking tour:
Departing from City Hall, the tour visits the Linenhall library before proceeding down Donegall Place and Royal Avenue whilst recounting how Belfast grew from a small Irish fishing village to a Norman base before its 17th growth as a plantation town. Visit Bank Place and High Street to see the numerous entries which sat at the edge of the river Farset in the old Belfast. Learn about the areas links to the United Irishmen, Henry Pottinger (the first governor of Hong Kong) and hear of the impact of the Belfast blitz and the modern conflict on the local architecture. See the world famous Albert Clock, McHughs Bar and Custom House before crossing the river Lagan using the new Lagan weir footbridge where the cranes of the Harland and Wolff (creators of the Titanic) can still be viewed. We then proceed along the waterfront to learn about emigration from Belfast before returning to City Hall via May Street where an optional visit to the famous St Georges Market is also available.