Travel Blog


Growing up in Belfast

Growing up in BelfastThe childhood of someone growing up in Belfast, Ireland during the 70’s and 80’s was  very different than other kids around the world. If you  grew up in west Belfast, you heard the sound of bombs and gunshots which was a normal everyday experience. With people being killed daily and British soldiers patrolling the streets; life on the streets just wasn’t the same as we experience it today in North America. Sure there are some areas in our larger cities that are bad, but not as bad as what the Irish had to put up with during those years.

This was a difficult time for the Irish as it had been for many years prior to that. An entire generation Growing up in Belfast was affected by the issues that took place during the 70’s and 80’s. It will be another generation before it is really historical and not present in the minds of the Irish.

Growing up in Belfast – Weekend Activities

The weekend activities for young men in those days was very different than what young people know today. Instead of thinking about going out to socialize or play games the majority of local youths would go out to riot. With either people from the other side of the political of the other side, or with the British soldiers and/or RUC (royal Ulster constabulary). This was the popular thing to do at that time. It was a very violent and difficult society to live in.

During the 1970s and 80s Belfast was like a war-zone. Belfast’s troubled history has seen many tragedies and atrocities. One positive thing that has come out of these bad times and helps everyone to remember what happened in the past is the murals that now dot the city.  These atrocities are illustrated in the many murals dotted all over Belfast. They are painted on the sides of houses, on walls of building and anywhere paintings are allowed in public.

These massive paintings have become a major Belfast attraction for tourists. In the past, however, they were a way for the residents of Belfast’s troubled areas to get their points across. Or make a plea or demand that the rest of world could see through the power of the media. Now these paintings can also be seen on the internet.

You can see murals from both sides of the political divide. Some of the murals are of memories of something that has happened in the past. Something the painter wanted to immortalize, or a memorial of people that have been killed.

Main Sections of Murals

There are 4 main sections of murals in the city: murals from 4 of the hardest hit areas of Belfast – 3 nationalist areas: The Falls Road – the Republican backbone of west Belfast; Ballymurphy/Whiterock – west Belfast’s Republican heart; and Ardoyne – the Republican stronghold of north Belfast, and 1 unionist area: The Shankill – the loyalist stronghold in west Belfast.

There are Belfast murals on the famous Belfast peace wall. This wall is over 20 feet high, and stretches for miles, separating unionists and nationalists in west Belfast.

This is the situation that many kids grew up in during the 70’s and 80’s and it is important to remember these events to ensure that the Irish never go back to this violent situation – if you’re interested in Irish history or the troubles of the north of Ireland then these pictures are a must see while you are visiting the city.

There is still the odd shooting and disruptions, but nothing like it used to be. It has become more like it is in many other cities which is still unfortunate, but better than it has been. For more posts about Ireland including both Belfast and Dublin, click here.

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One Response to “Growing up in Belfast”

  1. we are so lucky to grow up in north America without the violence of bombs etc. We have lots of guns and such, but i think bombs are worse

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