Belfast - Falls Roads Bobby Sands Mural

Political Walking Tours in Belfast

Political Walking Tours in Belfast

We were told we would hear the truth.  The facts would be correct.  The numbers, the events, the statistics would all be true.  We were also told though, that the reasons for those truths, the background to those truths would be interpreted freely and from an admittedly biased perspective.  Four hours later, we had walked own the Falls Roads in Belfast with a staunch Republican.

Coiste organizes walking tours of Belfast on the Republican side of Belfast.  Their main objective is to give former IRA political prisoners work after the amnesty agreement and their subsequent release from prison, although not all guides are former political prisoners.  The company offers a variety of different tours on the Republican side of Belfast.

The group does not hide from their past.  Instead, they use it to their advantage and as a teaching tool.  Several times throughout our tour, we were told that it would be a good idea to take a similar walking tour on the Loyalist side of Belfast with a similar group called EPIC (unfortunately their website is currently being renovated but contact information can be found here).

Political Walking Tours in Belfast

Throughout the tour we were told the history of the Falls Road, the background to the numerous murals painted along the road, the sites of murders, attacks, bombings.  We eventually made our way to the Milltown Cemetery, the burial site of several IRA members and itself a site of historical significance.  After the cemetery we crossed the street to a Republican pub and received our free glass of Guinness.

Political Walking Tours in Belfast

What was supposed to have taken about two and a half hours, took four.  And I couldn’t get enough.  Our guide, Jack Duffin, was knowledgeable, engaging, had an intimate connection with the area and was greeted several times by people walking along the streets.  He even cracked a few jokes along the way.  Considering the severity of the topic at hand, it was good to lighten the mood every now and again.  Duffin also provides other tours in the Northern Ireland area with a company called Irish Historical Tours.

Political Walking Tours in Belfast

Belfast isn’t always at the top of the list when people are doing their Europe travel planning. It should be.  I was amazed by the history of the area, and the changes taking place in a city so long tied with the Troubles.

Political Walking Tours in Belfast
This entry was posted in Northern Ireland and tagged on by .

About Marcus Cederstrom

I was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before my 6th birthday. I grew up in the United States eventually graduating from the University of Oregon. After graduation and about 17 years in the US I made the decision to move back to Sweden. I have been living in Stockholm since the summer of 2007. Since graduation I have traveled throughout eastern Australia as well as in Sweden and Europe.

5 thoughts on “Political Walking Tours in Belfast

  1. Karen Bryan

    Marcus – I was in Belfast on my UK Blog Tour last Summer. I felt deeply uncomfortable in the Repbulician and Loyalist areas during the Belfast bus sightseeing tour of the city. Growing up in the UK I have memories of so much TV coverage of the Troubles which left me thinking why are people doing these awful things to each other. Thankfully peace will prevail now.

  2. John

    I visited in August 2006. It was a strange feeling walking on the Falls Road and on the Shanklin Road, but that was the best way to get some photos of the murals. I too remember the television coverage but also had to implement precautions against the threat from Irish terrorists on my jobs in London.
    It would have been good to have taken a walking tour, but I was not aware of their existence back then. I observed that the murals were politically up to date, not just a preserved remnant from the Troubles. One related to a mass rally celebrating 25 years since the Hunger Strikes, in fact I saw lots of people on paramilitary type uniforms at the top of the Falls Road coming from the rally. I got the feeling that Northern Ireland has peace at a political level, but it is fair to say that people will not forget what happened in a hurry.

  3. Marcus Cederstrom Post author

    It is a frightening history, and a recent one at that which I think leads to those uncomfortable feelings. I definitely reacted to certain areas and stories after having heard so much about the Troubles. It is good to see the hard work that so many people are putting in to make sure that peace does prevail.

  4. Nina Stössinger

    Great to see this. I just took the same tour last week (and mine took 4 hours too! :-). An absolute highlight of my time in Ireland. I had a bit of previous knowledge of the history of the area but found it incredibly valuable to get this inside perspective, and a possibility to connect places to stories, people, and faces. Thank you for documenting this.

Comments are closed.