“The Continuity Fianna”. The Irish National Boy Scouts or “junior IRA” were founded in 1909 by Bulmer Hobson and Countess Markievicz, who is at the centre of this photograph. The Fianna followed the Provisionals in 1969 and Republican Sinn Féin (and the Continuity IRA) in 1986 (Fianna History blog | Irish Examiner), while Provisional Fianna became Ógra Shinn Féin and then Sinn Féin Republican Youth (An Sionnach Fionn).
For this year’s Twelfth, the famous UVF “Prepared for peace, ready for war” mural that has stood over the entrance to Mount Vernon for twenty years was retouched. The most obvious change is in the apex, as a different UVF symbol – with flags – has been included, along with the words “3rd Battalion” which had been in the much earlier version of this mural on another wall.
The image above has been photoshopped to remove the lettering on the left.
The Bellevue steps lead from the Antrim Road to Floral Hall, which served as a concert and dance hall before closing in 1973 and since becomign dilapidated. There have been various plans and calls for redevelopment, even in the last five years (one | two | three) and there is a Facebook group dedicated to restoring Floral Hall, but nothing has happened. As the wide shot shows (below) the famous steps too are overgrown; the facade at least has been painted with zoo animals, by London artist Irony (ig) (Belfast Media). The lion’s name is Quays (Zoo); the giraffe is called Ballyronan (BelTel).
Sean McCaughey was born in Aughnacloy but the family moved to Ardoyne when he was six years old (both Duneden Park and Heathfield Road are mentioned). He was IRA acting chief of staff when he was arrested in 1941 and sentenced to life in Portlaoise. He went on the blanket and was confined to solitary. After five years he went on a hunger and thirst strike, and died after 23 days, on May 11th, 1946. The background image in the board shown above is of McCaughey’s cortège moving through Dublin before he was buried in the republican plot in Milltown cemetery (Belfast). (An Phoblacht | RN | Bobby Sands Trust | 2008 mural)
“No extradition! Don’t play England’s game” – after years of legal wrangling, Liam Campbell was extradited to Lithuania on charges of procuring weapons for the Real IRA (BBC | Saoradh). See previously: Silence Is Complicity. Ciarán Maguire was handed over to the PSNI by Gardaí in April 2021 (Donegal Daily).
The boards shown above and at bottom are in Thames Street (Falls) and Brompton Park (Ardoyne). The small diamond version (also in Ardoyne) is mounted above one of the “Slow – Go mall” signs from Sinn Féin that were described as “intimidatory” by local DUP Assembly member and are perhaps also illegal under the Roads Order (NI) 1993 (Belfast Live).
The moon rises over Thompson’s feed on York Road while the sun sets over the New Lodge tower blocks, most of which have the portraits of two deceased hunger strikers from the 70s and 80s on them, including Francis Hughes on Teach Mhéabha. (See New Lodge Flats for a full list.)
“A scramble for the window seat/Steam curls as the whistle blows/Clickety clack train on track.//Remember your neighbourhood in the late afternoon sun/The district was a different place then/All you owned was a box full of toys and a smile on your face.”
The York Road railway station was a few minutes’ walk below Ritchie Street – site of this mural and community garden – until it closed in 1992. The original line was to Ballymena and then Coleraine and London-/Derry, with service to Carrick and Larne added later. It was badly damaged in WWII and its final demise came with the opening of Belfast Central in 1976 (WP). It was replaced with Yorkgate in 1992 which no longer serves as a terminus (WP), but the line still runs along behind the end of the streets along York Road and the Grove area of the Shore Road.
There was plenty of support in Belfast for Scottish club Glasgow Rangers as they travelled to Seville last week to compete in the Europa League (previously the “UEFA Cup”) final – the initial images in today’s post show a huge number of banners outside the Berlin Bar on the Shankill (see previously Inter City Regiment), a scarf in the West Kirk Presbyterian (Fb) graveyard (see Who Went To War And Never Returned), and – on the Shore Road in north Belfast – the flag of the Netherlands pressed into service for its red, white, and blue.
Rangers lost on penalties to Eintracht Frankfurt and attention now turns to Liverpool’s match against Real Madrid this Saturday in the Champions League final in the Stade De France in Paris. There is already some support for Liverpool on display in Belfast, as illustrated by the West Kirk graveyard (again) and a flag of the manger and stars à la Abbey Road in the Village (south Belfast) – the “Fab Four” are manager Jürgen Klopp of Germany, and players Virgil Van Dijk of The Netherlands, Sadio Mané of Senegal, and Mo Salah of Egypt. Here is a list of all the Liverpool supporters clubs in NI.
The NI Assembly election is this day week (Thursday May 5th). Here is another gallery of electoral posters. Where last week’s selection included a Noah Donahoe placard in electoral style, this weeks’ includes one for New Life City Church (ig), again in the style of an electoral candidate: “He’s not after your vote, he’s after your heart.” Also shown are: (above) TUV’s ‘don’t hope; vote’; Sinn Féin’s “Time for real change” on top of a “spoil your vote” stencil; the PUP’s “country before party” with anti-woke independent Tony Mallon’s “We the people”; and last, Neil Moore of the Socialist Party “We can’t afford this system” (namely, capitalism).