Belfast loyalist murals - Belfast - Northern Ireland

Address: Belfast (See map)
Telephone: no telephone
Website: not available

Size of the museum/site: large
Year of visit: 2008

Description: Strolling around Belfast city centre you'd think you were in any old British town: The usual chain stores mixed with some great pubs and the odd historical monument thrown in for good measure... But venture out of the centre and you'll find yourself in a totally different cityscape! Masked gunmen stare you down from brick walls and a grim atmosphere makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Watch your tongue and body language, you don't want to fall out with the locals.

Belfast bore the brunt of the Troubles between nationalist/republican catholics and unionist/loyalist protestants during the past few decades, but also seems to profit most of the new situation which came into being by the signing of the Good Friday Agreement back in 1998. (No, we're not going to explain the entire Northern Irish history here! Try googling 'the Irish troubles' for yourself you lazy bastard!) Although sectarian tensions aren't as high as they were in the past, you still get a very gripping experience of what it must be to live in Belfast's separated communities.

Belfast's main working class protestant communities are centred around the Shankill Road and Ardoyne Road (part of which is a prevailing catholic neighbourhood) in the west, Sandy Row in the South (close to the centre) and Newtownards Road in the east. In these areas, especially Shankill, you'll see the most murals. Loyalist murals tend to depict and glorify the armed struggle of paramilitary groups such as the UDA/UFF (Northern Ireland's largest loyalist group the Ulster Defence Association and their military wing the Ulster Freedom Fighters) and the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force). Other common themes of the murals are specific episodes of the history of Northern Ireland, such as the Battle of the Boyne.

If you want to see their catholic counterparts, click here: Belfast republican murals. If you want to visit more loyalist murals in Londonderry, click here: Londonderry loyalist murals.

We suggest you tour the murals by foot, as this will give you the freedom to decide where to go, which murals to see and how long to stay. If you're afraid to get your teeth kicked in or can't be arsed walking the whole damn length, try booking a black cab tour via your hotel (depending on the driver you can see both loyalist and republican murals during one ride).

A clear welcome / warning to visitors that they're about to set foot in a protestant neighbourhood, only a few blocks away from Belfast city centre. "Quis saparabit" is the latin UDA/UFF slogan meaning "who will come between us?".

Stretch of barren land directly next to one of the "Peacelines" separating hardline loyalist and republican neighbourhoods. Behind the wall lies the catholic Falls Road.

This banner welcomes you to the street which' name has become a synonym for loyalism across Northern Ireland. Note the wire netting protecting the windows.

Some of the small neighbourhoods directly north of the Shankill Road definitely have a haunting atmosphere.

Mural honouring the Shankill based UFF west Belfast C-coy, which was once led by the infamous Johnny "Mad Dog" Adair, untill he got dismissed by fellow loyalists in 2002.

One of the many murals in Hopewell Crescent (lower Shankill), directly north of the Shankill Road. This one depicts Stephen "Top Gun" McKeag, a notorious loyalist hitman believed to have killed at least 12 people.

Plaque remembering those killed by republicans during an attack on the Bayardo Bar in 1975.

Various murals and an arch in memoration of the Battle of the Somme which took place during the first World War. Protestant volunteers of Northern Ireland joined the 36th Ulster Division to fight in France for their British fatherland hoping that their sacrifice would ensure that Ireland stayed under direct British rule.

An unmistakable marker for UVF territory in the Shankill area.

During 2000 an inter-loyalist feud raged, which saw rival UDA/UFF and UVF members kill eachother in a battle of loyalist-supremacy. This mural is in honour of UFF member Jackie Coulter, believed to be shot by the UVF.