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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Bella’s Bench

“In loving memory of Isobel Bamford 18.09.1954 – 03.02.2014 from family and friends in Kirkintillock LOL 206, KRSC [Kirkintillock Rangers Supporters Club], City of Glasgow ABOD and POTNFB [Pride Of The North Flute Band].” Kirkintillock is eight miles outside Glasgow, Scotland. This memorial bench to Bella Bamford is in the pocket park just above the King William III mural on Sandy Row.

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Make Israel Great Again

US president Donald Trump, yesterday quoted (approvingly, in a tweet) a conservative radio host claiming that Israelis think of him “like he’s the King of Israel” and “the second coming of God”. He went on, later in the afternoon, to describe himself to reporters as ‘the chosen one’ (video at BBC) for imposing tariffs on Chinese goods. On MondayTuesday, he said that American Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal” (BBC) to Israel, he later clarified (NYTimes). 80% of Jewish Americans voted for Democrats. The Trump flag flies over Sandy Row, next to the other ‘Prince Of Orange’.

Previously: Your Wall, Your Border | Imagine There’s No Countries

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The Loyal 36th

“Off to France our boys were sent. All gave some, some gave all – In memory of the loyal 36th.” The first phrase might come from the Rangers’ song ‘We’re Coming Down The Road‘. The second phrase dates not to WWI but the Korean War in the 1950s (Reference). Kitchener Drive, the Village.

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One Of Ulster’s Finest

“In memory of Gary McCann (Magoo) – one of Ulster’s finest. GBNF [Gone but not forgotten].” In addition to being a Linfield supporter, McCann was also a volunteer in the Village UVF. He died in 2016. See The Battalion Of The Dead.

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Uncle George

“In loving  memory of our uncle and brother.” A memorial of flowers and cards to “Uncle George” in Ormeau Park.

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Michael McCartan

“Michael was born 4th March 1964 to parents Charlie and Molly. Charlie was originally from Raglan Street and Molly was from Stanfield Street and they move to 13 Artana Street in February 1963. They had seven children: Michael, Sean, Dermot, Martin, Conor, Marie and Roisin. Michael was educated at Holy Rosary PS and St Augustine’s Secondary School and was due to start an apprenticeship in joinery and plastering. Michael was a typical teenager. He loved spending time with his mates but as the eldest child he was very helpful to his parents. On the day of his murder he had been helping his father paint the house. On 23rd July 1980 Michael, aged 16, was playing cards with his mates in the ‘nook’ at Ormeau Bridge. Getting bored, Michael got some paint and painted a slogan on the adjacent wall. He was seen by two plainclothes RUC men in an unmarked van. Without warning, Michael was shot by one of the RUC men and died shortly after. Nobody was ever convicted of Michael’s murder. Unveiled by his mother Molly 4th March 2019.” Father Raymond Murray, who with Fr Dennis Faul wrote a report on McCartan’s death, was also at the launch.

The killing of Michael McCartan by an RUC officer named McKeown was long ago (in the 1980s) depicted in a mural in Oakman Street: They Murder The People And Have No Shame.

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British And Proud

The UDA roll of honour mural (led by John McMichael) in Rowland Way was blacked out in the mid-2000s but has been gradually reappearing since then. (The steps painted on the wall in front read “In proud memory of our fallen comrades who lost their lives in the conflict – we forget them not.”) The banner was used for the “flag protests” surrounding the flying of the Union Flag on Belfast City Hall (in 2012-2013) and then was first hung next to the King Billy mural at the bottom of the Row.
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Thy Right Hand

“For I, the Lord thy God, will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, “Fear not. I will help thee.” – Isaiah 41 v.13″ Jehovah’s promised protection for the people of Israel is invoked by his chosen people in the north of Ireland.
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Ready For The Big Parade

Sandy Row gets ready for 11th Night and the Twelfth with flags and bunting and loyal Orangemen (from lodges 126 and 428) in the windows.
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