The Depths of Belfast
By Sarah Staelgraeve
Our final day in Belfast was filled with more detailed information on the past of the city. The Titanic tour was something I have been looking forward to since we got our schedule. The Titanic and its story has intrigued me since I was young. As interested as I have been, it was shocking to see how little information I knew about the ship’s birth. I was unaware it was built in Belfast. The building of the Titanic back in the early 20th century brought more people, noise and chaos to this place.
Fast forward a few decades, the price of building the tourist attraction museum in the 21st century must have cost millions. It was four stories high with detailed pictures, videos, voice recordings and even a ride. It showed me that the Titanic is an important catastrophic event in history to people from all over Europe, the United States and United Kingdom (especially Belfast). When walking through the Titanic museum, I pictured what total shock and discomfort the people of Belfast must have felt when they learned about its terrible fate.
Speaking of terrible fates, our second stop of the day was the Crumlin Road Gaol. This was a prison that opened in 1845 and closed its doors as an actual prison in 1996. One of the most eerie parts of the walk through was the fact that 17 men were executed there (hang man style). We got to see the majority of the prison while getting facts thrown at us. I couldn’t believe I was walking on the same ground murderers once walked on. It was something I had never done before, nor want to do for a second time.
The creepiest part wasn’t seeing the small dirty cells prisoners had once stayed in, or the wet, dark and cold underground tunnel that around 25,000 of the prisoners had been through at some point. It was seeing the room where the executions were once held. It was hidden (exactly like when it was a running prison) behind a bookshelf that was covering a secret door. Through the secret door hung a rope. The SAME exact rope that hung while men were strangled to their deaths. It left a pit in my stomach… this was a tour I was glad I went on, but eager to get out of.
Belfast has been the first stop on my 5 week journey and I’m blessed to have gotten to see the depths of this Norther Ireland city.