This part of Belfast
, Northern Ireland
, was where much of the “Troubles” played out. West Belfast is still bitterly divided, mainly between the Protestant/Unionist areas of and around Shankill and the Catholic/Republican districts to the south along and around Falls Road.
There were too many atrocities, bombings and drive-by shootings, etc., to list them all here, but a few of the key events are picked out in the relevant sections of the following dedicated subchapters:
I had already seen some of those places on my first trip to Belfast
in 2012, namely as part of my Black Taxi Tour
(see details there).
On my second visit in the spring of 2023, when I didn’t want a repeat taxi tour, I instead opted for a walking tour
of West Belfast. They were openly marketed as “political” tours and they took in both sides. It started with a former IRA
fighter from the Republican side, who is now mostly involved in education and tour guiding but also campaigns for Sinn Féin (the political party of the Republican side). The first half of the tour focused mainly on the Falls Road
and surrounding areas. After we crossed the dividing line and into the Shankill
district, our group was handed over to a second guide, this time from the Unionist side (and a former Crumlin Road Gaol
inmate), to give us that side’s story and perspective. But both guides were now non-confrontational and actually on friendly terms with each other. Differences in views, however, obviously remain.
Instead of giving this two-part walking tour its own stand-alone chapter here, I decided to split it into two and cover aspects of each half under the main entries for Falls Road
This stub chapter basically just serves as an anchor, or jumping-off point for those individual chapters listed above.