The Road to Titanic

Did this title give you a sinking feeling? Not to worry, plenty of good things to come…

After leaving the Giants Causeway, we motored on to Belfast. As it worked out, this was one of the more scenic sections of our tour.

Ocean views, populated both by near-empty beaches and rugged cliffs.

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Hills, populated by cows who seem to face either uphill or downhill.  Saves them having to have legs shorter on one side.

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The greens and grays of a landscape, soon to drink again from the sky’s fountain.

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The fountain, getting ready to drop the hammer…

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… resulting in the emerald green the Emerald Isle is known for.

Incidentally,  the name “Emerald Isle” is generally accredited to poet William Drennan for coining the phrase in his 1795 poem When Erin First Rose.  However, our guide suggested the name goes back much further than that.

In 1154 the one and only Englishman to become Pope, Nicholas Breakspeare, was elected as Pope Adrian IV. The next year he presented Ireland to the English king, Henry II, as a papal fief or lordship, with himself remaining overlord.

John of Salisbury, one of the few reliable historians of the Middle Ages, wrote: “It was at my prayer that he [Adrian IV] have and conceded to the illustrious King of England, Henry II, Ireland, to be possessed by hereditary right; for by ancient right, according to the Donation of Constantine, all islands are said to belong to the Roman church. Through me, too, did the Pope transmit a golden ring, decked with a single emerald, with which the king’s investiture was to be completed.”  Ergo, the Emerald Isle.

And ever since, the English and the Catholics have tried to treat Ireland as if they owned it.

Once arriving in Belfast, a mysterious building was pointed out.

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Behind these doors, carefully guarded,  is the set for Game of Thrones.

Since it was carefully guarded they wouldn’t let riff-raff like us in, we had to settle for Titanic, Belfast.

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Titanic, Belfast is a massive tourist attraction, built on the site where the Titanic was built. Multiple floors of exhibits give a background of some of the folks who built the Titanic or took that ill-fated trip.

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Titanic model, port side
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Grand Staircase

I don’t believe there were any artifacts recovered from the Titanic, but exhibits did show samples of what passengers might have carried.  There were also exhibits showing and discussing the process of building the ship.

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Mockup of a lifeboat

Outside of the building we found the slipway,  an unremarkable patch of concrete with a few rails embedded. Off to the side was the Nomadic.

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The Nomadic was a tender. Tender what, you might ask?

In this case, tender means fancy water taxi.  Since the Titanic was so big, it didn’t fit in a normal boarding slip, it anchored offshore and the Nomadic brought first and second class passengers out to it.

I’m not sure how the third class passengers got out there. Swim, maybe?

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Harbor next to the Titanic slipway

Of course, there’s more to Belfast than a Titanic exhibit. In the evening, we walked a bit and found a few interesting spots.

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Murals are popular in Belfast.  Many are political in nature, but some are just fun, topical art.

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And somewhere, there was a magical alleyway that took us back in time…

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… to a tavern tied into the way back machine.

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However long they’ve survived, the beer was tasty.

We would be remiss if we ignored the elephant in the room. For some time, Belfast was ground central in the clash between the Brits and the Irish Republican Army. I still remember my first trip to Ireland and the European mainland back in 1980.  I did the United Kingdom portion of that trip getting from point A to point B via the power of the outstretched thumb. Getting through Belfast back then gave me pause.  When some of the vehicles traveling through town were armored troop carriers, complete with gun barrels pointed out armored slots, it seemed wise to simply walk.

We’ve already touched on the Troubles in the Derry or Londonderry post, we will not revisit them.  However, there is a wall in Belfast that bears visiting.

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Segregation between the Protestants (Nationalists) and the Catholics (Unionists) contributed (and still contributes) to the distrust or even active dislike between the parties; it’s easier to hate someone on the other side of the tracks than the neighbor you see most days.  A wall ran down a dividing line between the neighborhoods, both contributing to that distrust and making it a little harder to throw bombs over the backyard fence.  When the Good Friday accords helped bring some peace, armed checkpoints between the sides were cleared but the wall remained.  These days the wall has taken on a new meaning.

Now it’s called the Peace Wall.

Painted up in a series of murals, it provides both a canvas for artistic expression and literal expression.  Covering the wall, by the thousands or even hundreds of thousands, are signatures of folks who have come to visit the wall and plead for peace.

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Somewhere, on this section of wall, is my own contribution, and that of my wife.


This will be the last post for Ireland and Northern Ireland.  Next up is Scotland.

Or maybe not.

I may take a break before I start that series.  I may drop in a few posts from the Northwest.   I may not post at all for a bit, I’m seriously backlogged on book reading and instructional videos from other interests.  The holidays will be taking up some time.  I’m gonna play it by ear, so if I’m a bit intermittent over the next few weeks or not responding to your posts, please be patient.  As Arnold said,  “I’ll be back.”  In the meantime, for those of you in the US, have a Happy Thanksgiving, and for the rest, be happy.

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42 thoughts on “The Road to Titanic

    1. The Titanic exhibition was very touristy, so depending on how you take to things like that missing it could be a good thing or a bad thing. But should you get back to Belfast, you’ll have it as an option in the back of your mind.

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    1. Who’d have thought that a week or so in Ireland would have generated so many stories? I’m not sure yet how many Scotland will bring, especially as the memories are starting to fade. Guess that’s one reason I take pictures.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. “And ever since, the English and the Catholics have tried to treat Ireland as if they owned it.” Enjoyed this little jab, Dave. And the rest of the blog. Nice sense of humor own the White’s Pub. And who doesn’t enjoy photos of beautiful, green Ireland. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Did this title give you a sinking feeling?” Okay… that got a giggle out of me. Well done. Also these pictures are sooooo taking me back. I was in a lot of these exact same places, including the Titanic museum, when I went to Belfast a few years ago!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We weren’t in Belfast very long, so it’s no surprise that the tour took us to the most popular places. In fact, I kind of wonder what percentage of signatures on the peace wall comes from tour groups. Regardless, it was nice to make that stop.

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  3. Always good to see a wall that promotes something other than the division it was initially built for. The other stuff looks pretty entertaining, too – I can’t help but be morbidly fascinated by the Titanic disaster, I love a good old pub (and that old streetscape is a beauty), and the coast of Ireland is one of the most aesthetically pleasing of all time!

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    1. Stopping at the Peace Wall was the highlight of Belfast, it put a nice exclamation mark on the visit to Northern Ireland. The rest was nice too, and I have to agree about the Irish coast – at least what I saw of it. (Of course, I’m biased, I think the Oregon coast is pretty special too! 🙂 )

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  4. Those silver clouds over the green hills-wow. No place does green like Ireland. It’s good to take a break from blogging every once in a while. It clears the mind so fresh ideas can filter in. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, Dave.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Johnny Cash, of all people, is quite popular in Ireland. Some of that is due to a song he wrote about Ireland called 40 Shades of Green. I think he may have underestimated the number.

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  5. Ah, I knew you’d find a pub but no pictures of what you drank? You’re slipping, Dave.
    Seriously though, lovely photos. Easy to see why it’s called Emerald Isle, whoever came up with it first.
    Looking forward to visiting Scotland through your blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think it was something akin to a Smithwicks, but it’s been long enough now I don’t really remember. It wasn’t an emerald green beer, that much I know.

      I’ll be curious as well as to what I come up with for Scotland. Good thing I took pictures (and a few notes), I’m forgetting details there too.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I went to Belfast on a work daytrip, and I was shocked to see the “Peace walls”. What made it stranger still is how they are closed at night, and how tall they were (to intercept petrol bombs, my workmates told me). Even weirder, when I spoke about it with colleagues back in London, the overwhelming majority of them didn’t know about the walls, but for an Irish lady and a South African guy. Looking back now it feels a precursor of the Irish border discussion for Brexit; no one, literally no one, spoke about it during the campaign.

    On a lighter mood, the cab ride to and from the airport took us within sight of the cranes of a particular shipbuilder; in both occasions the cabbie, having established my non-Ulterness, pointed them out and said “Built the Titanic there mate”. Guys, it’s been more than a century and it didn’t even make it to the end of its first journey!!!

    Enjoy the turkey and cranberry!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suspect for some of the English, the Nationalists are like black sheep cousins that nobody wants to mention. Especially when they’re trying to come off as not needing to associate with folks much like those cousins. I suspect these days they’re at least familiar with some of the open border questions, even if they don’t like the pragmatic answers.

      We’ll all be curious to see how the Brexit dance works out. I can think of a few scenarios, but I’m probably not informed enough to make an accurate call. (Much, I suspect, like most of the folks who voted on it.)

      The turkey and cranberries were good. We ended up hosting dinner for 13 this year, much to our surprise. We usually go to Seattle for Thanksgiving, but this year that fell through and we found out about three weeks prior that we had become the default hosts. I cooked my first turkey; the way things are trending I don’t think it’ll be my last.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My tribe? Huh. let me see, think I left them around 1954 … ever since then, been trying to join a new one but for some reason they’re not accepting new members … ah, to hell with them, think I’ll settle for the human race!

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      1. It is a difficult situation here, and I am not taking sides. People are emotional, and often immature. I just wish they shift their focus and think more constructive for mutual benefit.

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  7. Ah, the sheer hubris of gifting a land one doesn’t own to another person! Maybe Ireland can blame all of its political troubles squarely on the head of Nicholas Breakspeare? He’s given me, however, an excellent idea for holiday presents this season. I shall be bestowing islands, nations, and perhaps even planets to family and friends.

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  8. Pingback: Scottish Bonnet – Plying Through Life

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