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The Murals of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

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  • The Murals of Belfast, Northern Ireland.

    The Murals of Belfast

    Many years ago I knew a Norther Irishman who had once had contacts in the USA who collected for a Northern Irish Protestant Organisation. He once told me that they never collected for their particular group by name, they always described themselves as 'Irish Freedom Fighters'. The reason for this was because that title covered every para-military group in the land without giving away anything about them, their politics or religion, and many (if not all) Americans would give generously to the cause, sometimes with offerings such as 'Those bloody English!' or 'Here's enough bullets for several English B----s' etc etc. Many had no clue about which sides those bullets were going to. I wrote 'Sides'....... there have been more than two sides over there.

    More recently, on a very far right-wing US forum a particularly fanatical member would post up pictures of burning union jacks with the words 'English out of Ireland!' to goad us UK members. I think that particular member was convinced that Boris Johnson is an extreme leftist because the colour of his Conservative Party is Blue, thus being horribly wrong about that as well as the posted photos, because there are no English in Ireland, only Irish. Maybe the odd angler, or tourist, perhaps. Or sometimes English trainers! :)

    Many years ago I used to visit Belfast once a year to deliver various training courses to adult learners, and one late afternoon in (about) 2003 I journeyed to The Falls (Catholic) and Shankill Road (Protestant) areas to photograph the Murals there. I had my very first digital camera with me and so the pictures that you will see here are 1MP size, the maximum resolution of that little camera. The JPEGs are marked 2007 but I think that happened when I downloaded them to a memory bank and loaded them later on to a new computer.

    I'll post up one picture per post with as much information as I learned from people over there (back then), but times have changed........ times change a lot over there.

    My first picture shows just a Red Hand. If you see this red hand anywhere on a mural it means you are looking at a Protestant Royalist British Patriotic Mural, and a Left Hand is supposed to show a different undertone to a Right Hand, although some artists seemed to get this wrong! :)

    Red Right Hand:- The Right Hand of God. Speaks for itself.

    Red Left Hand:- An Ancient Tradition about a Chieftain racing to place a first hand upon the Irish shore and thus claim it for his people (the Northern Irish) and when he realised that he would just lose the race to another chirftain he severed his left hand with his sword and threw it to the land, first to fall there. Sadly I did not photograph a Red Left Hand.

    I'll start pasting up Murals in future posts.

    RED HANDS. (Various Protestant Pro-United Kingdom Royalist Patriots)


  • #2
    Dee Street 2nd Battalion,
    Combined UFF and UDA Forces (Circa 1976 they became the Real Ulster Freedom Fighters)

    UFF Ulster Freedom Fighters
    UDA Ulster Defence association who later formed the 'Real Ulster Freedom Fighters'

    Ulster Defense Association/Ulster Freedom Fighters › legal-and-political-magazines
    6 days ago — At its peak, it claimed to have a membership of more than 40,000. Its small but ruthless military wing, the Ulster Freedom Fighters, emerged as ...

    RUFF The Real Ulster Freedom Fighters, otherwise known as the Real UFF, was a dissident loyalist paramilitary group in Northern Ireland. It was founded in early 2007 by former members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) /Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

    Notice the Windows in the the homes are all screened. The residents patrol(led) this district and tended to keep law. You may have heard of Muslim Sharia law patrols elsewhere, but I can tell you that any drug dealer or street criminal around this area was in for a very bad, sad, time.
    DEE STREET.jpg


    • #3
      36th Ulster Division.

      YCV Young Citizen Volunteers of Ireland

      UVF Ulster Volunteer Force, Protestant paramilitary organization founded in Northern Ireland in 1966. Its name was taken from a Protestant force organized in 1912 to fight against Irish Home Rule.

      Notice the Crown above all, signed 'One Faith' 'One Crown' ....... a 90 years plus Battalion now.
      Most Proud of the many Battles that threy fought in throughout whole time.

      new1 046.jpg


      • #4
        Irish Republican Catholic Murals

        The Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA) is an Irish republican organisation which supports republican prisoners. It has ties with the political party Saoradh and the 32 County Sovereignty Movement.
        In May 2016 an unknown member of the IRPWA interrupted a ceremony to commemorate British soldiers who were killed during the Easter Rising. In response the Canadian ambassador to Ireland Kevin Vickers grabbed him and dragged him away. The event gained international attention.

        In October 2016 the DUP criticised the organisation saying it was promoting violence due to a mural at an IRPWA office saying "unfinished revolution" with two republican paramilitaries.

        Notice the allegiance shown to the Palestinian Fighters of Gaza, both groups feeling very much like the under-dogs in their individual struggles. The Catholics of Northern Ireland have indeed been much subdued over many decades.

        No Red Hands there, for sure!



        • #5
          Bothar na bhfal Falls Road (from Irish túath na bhFál 'territory of the enclosures'[1]) is the main road through west Belfast, Northern Ireland, running from Divis Street in Belfast city centre to Andersonstown in the suburbs. The name has been synonymous for at least a century and a half with the Catholic community in the city. The road is usually referred to as the Falls Road, rather than as Falls Road.

          Falls Road...... a mainly Catholic Area.



          • #6
            SHANKILL-ARGYLE.jpg Shankill Road (Mainly Protestant Pro UK Royalist area)

            Shankill Road - › wiki › Shankill_Road
            The Shankill Road is one of the main roads leading through west Belfast, in Northern Ireland. It runs through the working-class, predominantly loyalist, area ...

            I show this picture because the bloke in the entrance to the Co-op was not a shopper but a collector for the cause.

            This is a Protestant area, and during times of any troubles it's best to know where you can go shopping.



            • #7
              Where Catholic and Protestant Districts join...........
              The walls and steel gates are about ten feet high. Barbed wire all around.
              In peaceful times folks can travel from one area to t'other, but if any troubles ignite those great steel doors shut.

              new1 041.jpg


              • #8
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”


                • #9
                  I spent a few days in Belfast before going down to Cork in 75. Belfast was like an armed camp, and the British soldiers did not mess around.
                  Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...



                  • #10
                    I sense Belfast is rather impoverished. How is Northern Ireland in general?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by seer View Post
                      I spent a few days in Belfast before going down to Cork in 75. Belfast was like an armed camp, and the British soldiers did not mess around.
                      Thirty years ago Belfast and much of Northern Ireland was very run down. Mates of mine were in the Princess Diana Regiment and serving tours of duty in Norther Ireland. It was very difficult all round. One friend was observing an area through a G2s bullet resistant window when a bullet hit the glass exactly in from of his face, showering him with tiny dust particles of the inner 1mm glass 'spool'. The thing they all hated the most was the hate of the tiny children. Everybody hated a soldier over there.

                      You may know that all handguns are absolutely banned anywhere in Great Britain. (GB is Scotland, Wales and England only) but in Northern Ireland a householder may keep a pistol at home.

                      Moving Forward..............................

                      B Specials In 1970 the B Special Police were in such difficulty, criticism and at such risk that they were disbanded. So Brit Soldiers were used to Patrol Northern Ireland.

                      Ulster Special Constabulary - › wiki › Ulster_Special_Constabulary
                      The Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; commonly called the "B-Specials" or "B Men") was a quasi-military reserve special constable police force in Northern ...
                      Formed: October 1920 Volunteers: 26,500



                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Ronson View Post
                        I sense Belfast is rather impoverished. How is Northern Ireland in general?
                        Much much better now, since Political Control was passed to the Stormont and all factions of NI given voice. It reminds me of Israel in as much as some leaders of past very aggressive paramilitary organisations are now respected leaders.

                        Northern Ireland is fairly stable now, but things can go wrong there very quickly.

                        In the Photo below taken in 2003, the Mural is in Memory of Bobby Sands, an Irish Republican S.F. Soldier who was captured, tried and convicted as a criminal. He demanded the recognition and treatment of a captured soldier, a POW, and when his appeals were ignored he hunger struck until death.

                        Sein Fein....... now a polictical party in N.I. and holding seats in the Stormont Parliament. Notice the Sein Fein Offices that were (are?) around the corner from this Catholic, Republican Mural.



                        • #13
                          Everywhere one could look......... the patrols and military forces of the people were (and are) proudly advertised with Murals.

                          The one below is a Protestant battalion, of course.......

                          new1 061.jpg


                          • #14
                            Another Protestant Mural.
                            There are many more Protestant Murals than Catholic, probably because Catholics are in the minority.

                            The reason why this and some other photos are much smaller is because my first camera had no memory stick and could only hold about ten photos, so to use VGA format spread the load slightly!

                            new1 050.jpg


                            • #15
                              I have a very few photographs left over but they only show similar views, I'm afraid, so from now on I will trawl around the internet to discover what Belfast might look like today, now it has it's own Parliament.

                              It's been 12 years since I was in or near Belfast and so the political changes will have made a great difference.

                              But the hearts and minds of older generations...... they won't have changed too much, I'm guessing.

                              A group of ex N.I. Police and Prison Officers entertained me one evening, all Protestants. What started as an attempt to describe Belfast slowly became a hateful rant against all Catholics.

                              One of the men said to me 'You see how they use Gaelic messages on their Murals? Yes! We know them...... they pass their nasty messages to each other like that so that we don't know what they're saying.'

                              At this point I realised that N.I.Protestants (mostly) do not speak Irish Gaelic, so I asked if teaching all children Gaelic might bring later generations slightly closer together. Oh dear..... the table where we sat exploded in to anger and one of them shouted at me
                              'Do your English children learn Welsh?! Do they?!'

                              I answered that where I lived all children learn some French. France is 20 miles from Kent, UK. That didn't help either.......


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