East Belfast or Ballymacarret

By | Category: Travel destinations

Titanic Belfast

On Tuesday evening at Stormont, members of the Northern Irish Assembly discussed tourism in East Belfast or, as Michael Copeland pointed out, Ballymacarret, because originally, this area was not part of Belfast at all.

CD-Traveller has published stories about two of the most obvious attractions in this area, Titanic Belfast and HMS Caroline but it’s a pleasant change when five politicians and a minister help in drawing attention to places you might not know about.

So what else do Assembly members find there that would attract us to visit this part of the city? It was Robin Newton, who just happens to represent East Belfast at Stormont who proposed the debate and he pointed out that Belmont Tower – now owned by the National Trust – has a permanent C.S Lewis exhibition. He is not the only famous person with links to the area. Van Morrison has strong links to the area and the airport is named after a certain footballer called George Best.

The giant Harland and Wolff shipbuilders were based here and two of their giant yellow edifices are still plainly visible from almost anywhere in the city but what else is there? Fearghal McKinney returned to C.S Lewis saying that he “famously wrote stories about a magical door that accessed a world of considerable beauty,” suggesting perhaps that east Belfast could be that door to the rest of the city.

HMS Caroline (January 2012)

Stormont is here as is Craigavon House which is where Home Rule was opposed and where plans were drawn up that entailed the north remaining within the UK. There are plans for Westbourne Presbyterian Church which was where many seaman and shipbuilder met and worshipped. The history of that building alone would be enough to attract visitors. As Judith Cochrane noted, East Belfast is home to the oldest operating cinema in Ireland, the Strand Cinema which opened in 1935. Reflecting the area, the cinema has curved walls and a portholed foyer. The development of the Connswater Community Greenway has the potential to bring those seeking recreation into an area through walking and cycling routes along the three rivers, the Connswater, Knock and Loop, and, when finished, will have 17 miles of traffic-free paths will also attract visitors.

There is lot to be seen in Ballymacarret , most of which I hadn’t appreciated. The area is in a state of flux. A lot depends on successful the East Belfast Partnership is.

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