We arrived in Belfast too late and too tired to take in anything about the city other than being relieved we were done being lost. Fortunately, the next day we asked the concierge of our hotel to arrange a black taxi tour of Belfast. Even more fortunately, our soon-to-be tour guide, Bobby, had his car parked around the corner and soon became our lively, knowledgable, and patient (i.e. waiting whilst we took copious photos) host for a tour of Belfast’s political murals.
The murals on Falls and Shankill Roads in West Belfast have developed as a censorship-proof way for their respective communities to reflect their political, historical, and cultural concerns. The messages are evocative, mythological, and sometimes disturbing. (For example, there’s a mural-bound Trompe-l’œil sniper in the Shankill that follows you wherever you are.)
Bobby told us that this anti-war mural in the Falls Road, inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, is the joint effort of Catholic and Protestant artists:
After seeing murals in both Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, Bobby took us to the this section of the Peace Wall (a construction of corrugated steel and barbed wire that divides opposing neighborhoods) in Cupar Way between the Falls and the Shankill roads. Bobby handed Deke a pen so that he could join his signature with those of Bill Clinton and the Dalai Lama.
After an intense, educational, and graphically evocative morning, Bobby dropped us off at the oldest pub in Belfast, Whites, to reflect over a hearty lunch and a pint. Belfast and Bobby were both well worth the trip. Maybe you can even trick him into taking his picture:
No Deke’s Techniques tie-in today from the past. Is there anything you can think of that Belfast might inspire for a future episode?