Belfast , Northern Ireland

The capital of Northern Ireland.

The name derives from the Irish, Beal Feirsde, meaning “mouth of the river”.

In the nineteenth century, Belfast was Ireland’s main industrial city and, since 1921, capital of Northern Ireland. Although a settlement had existed since the seventh century, the town was founded by Sir Aurthur Chichester in 1603 for English and Scot settlers. It became a borough in 1613 represented by 2 MP’s (members of parliament) in the Irish Parliament. In the eighteenth century, the first industries, particularly linen, began to develop along the valley of the River Lagan.

Belfast was a Presbyterian town with a reputation for radical politics. It supported the American Revolution and the 1798 United Irishman’s Rebellion. The rebellion resulted in a conservative backlash and, as Belfast began to prosper after the Act of Union, the town became more loyalist in character.

By the 1830s, Belfast was the world’s main producer of linen, and after the coming of the railways in the 1840s, its harbour, Belfast Lough, became a major port. By the end of the century, the town supported a textile industry, shipbuilding, engineering, rope manufacturing, whiskey production and, tobacco. In 1888, it officially became a city.

The Titanic was built in Belfast and a well known saying among the shipyard workers was  “IT WAS FINE WHEN IT LEFT HERE”.

The population rapidly increased as people came from Scotland, England and other parts of Ireland seeking work. By 1901, there were 349,180 inhabitants, most of whom were Protestants loyal to Britain. There was, however, a significant minority of Catholics, From the 1840s on, Belfast became the scene of violence, riots, and even sustained street warfare between these these two groups. After 1886, the Ulster Protestant opposition to home rule led to increasing clashes with the Catholic minority. The founding of Northern Ireland in 1920 was marked by months of violence in which hundreds of Catholics were driven from their homes. The city’s demographics and its seregated neighborhoods stem mainly from this time. Thanfully it is all in the past now !!!

But Belfast is now a happening , vibrant city.

There are a host of new buildings amongst the beautiful original buildings and it has a thriving tourist industry.

Best of all it is a gateway to the North and the fantastic sights that can be accessed.

At Ireland Luxury Tours we use Belfast as a base to explore the North Coast , Mountains of Mourne , and County Fermanagh on our Ireland tours.

In 2010 there will be over 40 cruise ships in Belfast and the privete tours offered by Ireland Luxury Tours are popular and maximise the time in port.