“How many famous Irish people do you recognize?” Chris asks me.
“Er, let’s see. Is that Sinead O’Connor over there? Oh and Bono! And George Best, the famous Northern Irish football player, of course!”
“Yes, and have a look over here. See that plaque? That plaque shows you that this is one of the first pubs where Snow Patrol ever played”!
I am on a Belfast walking tour with “Belfast Hidden Tours” and my guides Chris and Simon have plenty of inside information to share! They show me this little courtyard depicting scenes of every day Belfast life, they point out pavement blocks that reveal some of Belfast’s history in mirror writing and we even come across portraits of Salvador Dali! Not a single stone of the artistic Cathedral Quarter stays unturned!
But Belfast Hidden Tours isn’t just about seeing the sights, it’s about meeting the locals too! We meet up with Gerard. Gerard and Anto Brennan are two of Belfast’s most renowned artists and sculptors. Have you ever seen a chess set depicting political personalities? Or how about satirical figurines representing the Irish counties? The gallery is a collection of politics, history, culture and everything in between!
Not really into art? No problem! The walk has you covered on history too! Armed with illustrations of what the city used to look like, we are off exploring the city’s past and present. From the linen industry to whiskey, from the United Irishmen to World War II: Simon and Chris paint a very clear picture of the amazing and diverse history of Belfast!
We also meet up with Raymond O’Regan, a local historian and author of several books about the city. He explains us the history of the First Presbyterian Church, Belfast’s oldest place of worship. So much better than reading it in a book!
I have spent this last hour delving into Belfast’s history, discovering its hidden present and have left with big hopes for its future! There’s a new wind blowing over Belfast: initiatives like Belfast Hidden Tours want people to discover a Belfast beyond the murals, beyond its troubled past. They want to show a city that has potential, a city that has a vibrant cultural scene, a city that has decided to move forward! It’s an initiative that I can only applaud!
Have you been on a walking tour that explores the hidden corners of a city? Where was it?
This trip was sponsored by “Belfast Hidden Tours” All opinions are, as always, my own!
Belfast Hidden Tours offer tours several times a day, 7 days a week. Prices are £10. For more information and bookings visit Belfast Hidden Tours