Government, Graves, and Ghost Stories.

The plan this morning was to bus out to a certain car park in the south end of Belfast to take a walk through the woods and fields to the Giant’s Ring. When I woke up, though, I was really feeling yesterday’s walking in my knees and feet. So, I decided instead to spend the morning taking a tour of the Belfast City Hall.

It really is a beautiful building, right in the centre of the city. I've been seeing a lot of it here, because it's a very useful navigation point for anywhere I might want to go. Also, the bus back to the Old Rectory picks up here.
It really is a beautiful building, right in the centre of the city. I’ve been seeing a lot of it here, because it’s a very useful navigation point for anywhere I might want to go. Also, the bus back to the Old Rectory picks up here.
The rather extensive grounds are open to everyone, and are a popular place to have an outdoor lunch. There's even a huge TV screen set up at one location that was showing the news when I saw it.
The rather extensive grounds are open to everyone, and are a popular place to have an outdoor lunch. There’s even a huge TV screen set up at one location that was showing the news when I saw it.
Okay. A lot of the pictures I took in here didn't turn out all that well. But I'm including a few of them that are okay, like this shot of the statue on the first floor, with the mural and the column.
Okay. A lot of the pictures I took in here didn’t turn out all that well. But I’m including a few of them that are okay, like this shot of the statue on the first floor, with the mural and the column.

Incidentally, admission is free to all, and tours run several times a day. The City Hall was financed by Belfast’s two gasworks when it was built, and the plan and understanding – carried through to this day – is that this building belongs to the people of the city, and they share it freely with visitors.

There are a total of five domes on the City Hall: one atop each of the four corner towers, and this central one.
There are a total of five domes on the City Hall: one atop each of the four corner towers, and this central one.
The Council Chamber. There are fifty-one city councillors, and they elect the Lord Mayor of the city from among their number for a one-year term. Lord Mayors may serve multiple terms, but never consecutively.
The Council Chamber. There are fifty-one city councillors, and they elect the Lord Mayor of the city from among their number for a one-year term. Lord Mayors may serve multiple terms, but never consecutively.
The Lord Mayor's Chair. Also, the chairs of the Deputy Lord Mayor and the Chief Administrator.
The Lord Mayor’s Chair. Also, the chairs of the Deputy Lord Mayor and the Chief Administrator.
This is the actual table that the Ulster Covenant was signed on. One of the more important pieces of Northern Ireland history.
This is the actual table that the Ulster Covenant was signed on. One of the more important pieces of Northern Ireland history.

After touring the City Hall, I walked down to the bus station, and caught the bus to Downpatrick, because there was some stuff there I wanted to see.

This is, as the sign says, the Down County Museum. It used to be a gaol, and Thomas Russell was hanged from these gates after the 1798 rebellion.
This is, as the sign says, the Down County Museum. It used to be a gaol, and Thomas Russell was hanged from these gates after the 1798 rebellion.
The Down County Museum is small, but absolutely wonderful. It has some very nice exhibits. Everything from a beautiful, almost pristine grave cover...
The Down County Museum is small, but absolutely wonderful. It has some very nice exhibits. Everything from a beautiful, almost pristine grave cover…

 

...to replica cells<sup><a href=1..." width="768" height="1024" srcset="http://www.rickneal.ca/travelblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Cell-768x1024.jpg 768w, http://www.rickneal.ca/travelblog/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Cell-225x300.jpg 225w" sizes="(max-width: 709px) 85vw, (max-width: 909px) 67vw, (max-width: 984px) 61vw, (max-width: 1362px) 45vw, 600px" />
…to replica cells (much more spartan than those at the more modern Crumlin Road Gaol.)…
...to the beautiful (if tiny) Millennium Garden. Really worth the trip, even if it wasn't my main objective.
…to the beautiful (if tiny) Millennium Garden. Really worth the trip, even if it wasn’t my main objective.
Down Cathedral sits on a hill overlooking the entire town. You can see it from pretty much anywhere, but the view of it as you come up the street here is pretty overwhelming.
Down Cathedral sits on a hill overlooking the entire town. You can see it from pretty much anywhere, but the view of it as you come up the street here is pretty overwhelming.
The inside of the cathedral is lovely - cozier than, say, St. Anne's, and impressive in a completely different way.
The inside of the cathedral is lovely – cozier than, say, St. Anne’s, and impressive in a completely different way.
Pipe organ!
Pipe organ!
This is where, as far as history can be sure, the remains of St. Patrick lie, along with the remains of St. Brigid and St. Columba. This is one of the main things I came to Downpatrick to see.
This is where, as far as history can be sure, the remains of St. Patrick lie, along with the remains of St. Brigid and St. Columba. This is one of the main things I came to Downpatrick to see.
Okay. Saw these statues in the streets in Downpatrick and went to have a look. They are of Lynn Doyle, a Downpatrick writer, and three characters (a dog and two men) from one of his short stories. I got the low-down on him from an elderly nun and three of her friends, and then a little bit more from a clerk in a nearby store where I went to buy something to drink. The Downpatrick folks are all so friendly!
Okay. Saw these statues in the streets in Downpatrick and went to have a look. They are of Lynn Doyle, a Downpatrick writer, and three characters (a dog and two men) from one of his short stories. I got the low-down on him from an elderly nun and three of her friends, and then a little bit more from a clerk in a nearby store where I went to buy something to drink. The Downpatrick folks are all so friendly!

So, I got back on the bus, and made it back into Belfast in time to have dinner and catch the Ghost Walk tour. I don’t have any pictures of that, mainly because it was still daylight, so not very scary, and the visuals weren’t half as interesting as the stories.

The stories were very good, though; we had unmarked graves, live burials, grave robberies, plague, ghostly warnings, and all the rest. It was tremendous fun.

Claire is the same guide I had on the Titanic Walking Tour - she obviously knows her stuff, and is great at presenting the material. I got a picture with her because, after two tours, I figured that made us practically family. Thanks, Claire!
Claire is the same guide I had on the Titanic Walking Tour – she obviously knows her stuff, and is great at presenting the material. I got a picture with her because, after two tours, I figured that made us practically family. Thanks, Claire!

And then I came back to the Old Rectory. I’m going to bed now. Tomorrow, I will see about taking a bus out to Enniskillen, then a taxi to Marble Arch caves.

That’ll be fun.

  1. Much more spartan than those at the more modern Crumlin Road Gaol. []

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