Belfast republican 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: Empty your pint of Guinness, step out of the pub and head for the Falls Road. Time to explore catholic Belfast! Keep to yourself and it'll be a pleasant stroll. Walk in whistling 'God Save the Queen' waving your Union Jack about if you want to get hospitalised...

The great Falls Road, stretching westwards from the city centre, is the main working class Irish neighbourhood in Belfast. Apart from housing blocks you'll find many Irish/catholic cultural, social and political institutions as wells as the occasional bar. As the road is a broad thoroughfare it won't prey on your mind like the protestant maze of the Shankill area (Belfast loyalist murals). Still, the squares and crescents directly off the Falls Road will keep you busy navigating.

The republican murals you'll see here differ from the protestant ones. A large part of the murals have an international perspective, linking the Irish cause with the Palestinian and Basque struggles for autonomous states. Depicting masked gunmen is far less common compared to murals in protestant communities (although the IRA wasn't shy of the 'occasional' assassination). The ordeals of Bobby Sands and fellow hunger strikers feature in quite a lot of murals. The link with Scottish based football club Glasgow Celtic also becomes obvious, not only by looking at the murals but also by looking at the number of locals walking about in green-white hooped shirts (balanced by equal numbers of people in protestant neighbourhoods sporting Glasgow Rangers or Linfield FC tops).

As the Falls Road has often been the background for important moments in the history of the Northern-Irish catholic population, you'll see plenty of plaques and little monuments commemorating various events. Among those, sadly, are a lot of sectarian killings.

If you want to visit more republican murals in Derry, click here: Derry republican murals.

One of the "peacelines" used to separate the catholic Falls from protestant Shankill. Although both protestant and catholic paramilitary organisations have officially ended their armed campaigns, barriers like this are kept in place.

Apparently even postman Pat isn't safe from sectarian attack!

One of the many murals featured on the "solidarity wall". Foreign causes to which the national/republican community feel sympathetic are portrayed here. This particular one depicts the Basque struggle for independence.

Solidarity mural marking the 60th anniversary of "Nakba": the large exodus of Palestinians that were forced out of their homes during the Palestine-Zionist conflict.

Commemorating the hunger strike, during which republican prisoners in the Maze prison starved themselves to death trying to re-establish their political status (they wanted to be treated as prisoners of war rather than criminal convicts). Brendan Hughes played a significant role during the protest.

Celtic mural celebrating the teams' success. Portrayed are star players Henrik Larsson and Jimmy Johnstone. Glasgow Celtic, as its' name implies, draws a lot of support from Irish-minded supporters from both Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as western Scotland (a traditional destination for Irish immigrants).

Monument for the fallen members of the IRA's 2nd battalion - D company.

Famous mural of Bobby Sands, who was elected as member of Parliament for Northern Ireland. He died aged 27 as one of the Maze hunger strikers.

A plaque in memory of three men killed by an off-duty R.U.C. policeman (RUC stands for the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the local police, who were overwhelmingly protestant).

Head office of Sinn Fein on the Falls Road. Sinn Fein is the Northern Irish catholic republican party connected to the IRA.