The First Outbreak Of The Troubles

The nationalist community has been commemorating the Belfast riots of 1969 which marked the beginning of the Troubles in the city (see The Pogrom Of 1969 | Clonard Remembers | End ApartheidDerry, Enniskillen, Aughrim, And Ardoyne). The plaque shown above is a rare loyalist acknowledgement of the period. It sits in a walled “garden” at the blind end of Disraeli Street, though in 1969 the street ran out onto the Crumlin Road between Hooker and Brookfield streets on the nationalist side.

“The officers and volunteers “B” company Ulster Volunteer Force and the officers and volunteers “B” company Woodvale Defence Association remember with pride the people of the Woodvale area killed during the conflict. This plaque stands in the area which bore witness to the first outbreak of the troubles and is a symbol of the solidarity shown by the people of this community.

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What I Have Witnessed In Botanic Gardens

At 28 acres, Belfast’s Botanic Gardens are large enough to contain a variety of attractions, from the Ulster Museum, to two glass houses (the Palm House, designed by Charles Lanyon, and the Tropical Ravine, opened in 1889 under head gardener Charles McKimm (Ulster Biography) whose portrait appears at the centre of this board, below), to a large rose garden, to its large parklands, site of events such as the launch of Henry Coxwell’s hot air balloon on July 3rd, 1865 (“You won’t believe what I have witnessed in Botanic Gardens. A monstrous balloon was being launched into the sky.” – the balloon escaped: “She has gone across the sea, but it is not known whither.” concludes the account by the Sydney Empire) and the final public appearance of tightrope walker Charles Blondin in 1896. (“He went up and down and up again, all the way along the rope he did his different moves: handstands, cartwheels, running. He was just like a circus acrobat. Mssr Blondin was up there with another man on his back. Blondin was just walking about easily, the other man felt terrible.)

The statue to Belfast-born Lord Kelvin is at the Stranmillis entrance to the park.

This is the second part (up to WWI) of a 27m-long history of Botanic Gardens by artist Peter Strain and poet Emma Must (BelTel).

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Ulster And Scotland Did Answer The Call

The Battle Of Assaye (India) took place on September 23rd, 1803, and the 74th regiment of the Royal Highland Fusiliers became known as the Assaye regiment in recognition of their performance (WP). By the time of WWI, the regiment had been merged into the Highland Light Infantry, whose 2nd battalion fought at the Somme in 1916 alongside the 36th (Ulster) Division (WP). The Highlanders’ emblem (which still includes the word “Assaye”) is on the right, the Ulster Volunteers’ on the left. In the apex are the flags of the UVF and YCV (14th battalion Royal Irish Rifles). This new computer-generated mural commemorates the UVF volunteers of both WWI and the Scottish brigade: J. Rankin, Br. Creer, B. Wilson, B. Creer, A. Steele.

“Ulster and Scotland did answer the call/Together in battle they bled and fall/Shoulder to shoulder their lives they did give/It’s to them we give thanks/For the lives that we live.”

“We are the dead. Short days ago/We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow/Loved and were loved/And now we lie/In Flanders Fields.”

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Dan McCann

Although originally from Clonard in west Belfast, at the time he was shot by the SAS in Gibraltar (along with Mairéad Farrell and Sean Savage) IRA volunteer Dan McCann was living in the New Lodge, site of this recently-added plaque in his memory. (He was previously included in a 3rd battalion Belfast Brigade mural on New Lodge Road.)

There are also new plaques to TC Campbell and Seamus McCusker.

“Óglach Dan McCann: On March 6th 1988 Dan was gunned down in Gibrlatar along with two IRA comrades Óglach Mairead Farrell and Óglach Sean Savage.”

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And The Cry Was “Keine Kapitulation”

The third (and surely not the final?) season of the popular UK drama Brexit is keeping people guessing. This week, it looks like Boris might betray the ever-loyal Arlene and agree a Northern Ireland-only backstop with EU before time runs out on October 31st. In Belfast, lower Shankill residents are not amused by this potential turn of events and have invoked the classic “No surrender!” catch-phrase from 1688’s Siege Of Derry, painted on the wall between the security gates dividing Catholic and Protestant west Belfast. (Just kidding, of course; this is serious stuff. But the twists and turns are worthy of a telenovela. As Belfasters have always said, “If you’re not confused, you don’t know what’s going on.”)

Other recent messages below the Imagine mural: Victory To IsrealYour Wall, Your Border

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Pola Negri

Polish actress Pola Negri (born Apolonia Chałupec) was the first European actor to be given a long-term contract by the Hollywood movie industry, becoming its first ‘femme fatale’. She was signed to Paramount Pictures and starred in 20 silent movies between 1923 and 1928, before moving back to Europe (WP). She is paid the tribute of a Belfast electrical box painting by KVLR (tw | Fb).

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Break Free, Belfast

New street art – artist unknown – at the bottom of loyalist Conway Street, next to the Cupar Way “peace” line.

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Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen, And Ardoyne

Martin Meehan joined the IRA in 1966 and was one of a few IRA volunteers defending Catholics in Ardoyne (Ard Eoin) in August 1969. Rioting did not cease there until the 16th, when British troops were finally deployed to the Crumlin Road to block mobs coming from the Woodvale and Shankill. Meehan resigned after the failure of the IRA to defend Ardoyne, Clonard, and Divis. This Magill article from the time summarises the IRA’s actions as “late, amateur and uncertain”.(Meehan would later rejoin the IRA and PIRA.)

After a few years honoring Seán McCaughey (see Chains And Bonds Have No Part In Us), Martin Meehan’s image (along with an RNU phoenix) is back on the Ardoyne Avenue gable that bears his plaque. The title of today’s post is based on the song “The Night We Burnt Ardoyne“.

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Pat And Dan Duffin

The IRA shot dead two members of the British Auxiliaries, Ernest Bolan and John Bales, in Donegall Street in Belfast city centre on April 23rd. Just before midnight, Pat and Dan Duffin were shot to death by men who entered their Clonard home. Another brother, John, was upstairs and not harmed and when he approached the scene he found not only his dead brothers but the station dog of the Springfield Road RIC barracks (GB Kenna | Glenravel history of Milltown). DeValera led the funeral cortège along the Falls. Joe Devlin would include the Duffin murders in a Westminster speech in June, following the killings in a single night of Alexander McBride, Malachy Halfpenny, and William Kerr (Hansard). The RIC in west Belfast under CI Harrison, DI Nixon, and in this case DI Ferris (Aiken et al.), would continue their killings into 1922 – see The RIC Murder Gang.

“In memory of volunteers Pat and Dan Duffin, murdered by the RIC in thei home at 64 Clonard Gardens 23rd April 1921. Erected the by the Greater Clonard Ex-Prisoners Association.”

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Stormont Can’t Deliver

“Stormont can’t deliver” is a campaign from Lasair Dhearg (web | tw) with an emphasis on social issues such as child poverty and public housing, to be addressed by a 32-county socialist republic.

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