This was a long and wonderful day in Belfast.
The day began with a quick hop over to the Belfast Print Workshop where we were able to view a collection, “Loss” by Clifford Rainey which was a mix of embossed and etched pieces portraying the last Irish wolf.
From there, we made our way down the street to St. Anne’s Cathedral. The exterior of the church is similar to many Cathedrals except one key element: the 40-metre ‘Spire of Hope’ shooting out of the roof.
Lunch at a small cafe was wonderful. A cappuccino, a warm sandwich, and wonderful company made the stop quite lovely. After taking over the little place, we walked through the streets, dodging cars at crosswalks, and ending at the Titanic museum, by far the most moving museum I’ve ever been to. It allows the goer to experience something rather than only look at something. There’s even a small ride in the middle that takes people on a journey through the shipbuilding process, complete with sounds and smells. Just like time, you keep moving forward in the museum. There’s no room to turn back, and if you do, you can easily become turned around. A staff member described it as navigating through IKEA without the arrows telling you where to go. The map they give out is even more confusing.
Belfast, for a long time, took a lot of blame for the sinking of the Titanic. Slowly, the city was able to regain its good name, pointing out that they only built the ship. The captain was British, they say, and the iceberg was Canadian. They didn’t sink it: Canada and Britain did.
“She was fine when she left here.”
We were able to go behind the museum and see the shipyard, complete with the outline of the ship. You don’t realize how big the ship really was until you walk to the end. Another scale is the museum itself. The height of the point is the height of the Titanic. Just looking up is daunting even before you realize that people jumped into freezing water from that height–and higher heights–to escape the sinking ship.
Looking out from the shipyard, one can see a studio and large cranes. The yellow crane in the photo is one of two cranes, the smaller being Samson and the larger being Goliath. The cranes are no longer in use since the city is no longer a ship building city. However, they have not been taken down. They have become a symbol for the city of Belfast, standing tall and bright. They were built for the shipbuilding age of the city and serve as a reminder of this strong maritime history. The people are all proud of this time in history. At night, these cranes have spotlights on them, allowing them to stand out in the darkness.
Any fan of Game of Thrones may like to know that the building, Titanic Studios, is where scenes of the show are filmed!
We had a small break before our group diner, and a group of us made it over to The Big Fish, also known as the Salmon of Knowledge. The public art is based on a story in Irish mythology, and they say that kissing the fish will give you wisdom. So what did I have to lose? I’ll take any wisdom I can get.