|From Blogger Pictures|
Belfast, Northern Ireland: Open for Business
Say hello to Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the pubs pour great lager, and the laughter and the garden-studded streets cover the ugly scars of “The Troubles.”
Who would have thought Belfast would be one of the next, best tourist destinations?
Until the Good Friday Peace Accord (April 10, 1998) the city and Northern Ireland were riven by sectarian and religious conflict for nearly 30 years. The 3,000 plus deaths are appalling, especially for such a small part of the world
But today Belfast is restless with life.
There are still pockets of violence (they exist in Washington DC too!) but Belfast’s rain drizzled streets welcome innovative restaurants and lots of shoppers
The arts flourish.
Just visit the majestic Grand Old Opera house, an architectural sweet-spot.
Badly bombed in 1991-2, it’s the best surviving example in the United Kingdom of the oriental style theatre architecture with a rich calendar of performances.
A must see is the St. George’s Market for foot-stomping live music and stalls overflowing with North Ireland’s best pates, breads, cheeses and produce
You have to take the Pub Tour or at least have a Guinness at the Crown Liquor Saloon, a Victorian-Italiante masterpiece, the real thing!
The lurid murals on the walls of Belfast still cry out about the past pain and violence.
And the corrugated “Peace Fence” still divides the so-called Catholic and Protestant sections.
And while lingering tension is an inevitable by-product, it’s being steadily eclipsed by the warmth and wit of the people, the energy of the young and the endless building, a sure sign of a belief in the future.
Out of the city, drive north along the dramatic Antrim Coast, past sheltering harbors and untouched villages, into Bushmill country for a taste of Ireland’s finest.
Belfast and Northern Ireland are proof that beautiful things do rise from ashes.