Grief Is The Price We Pay For Love

Elizabeth II, queen of the United Kingdom, passed away on September 8th, at the age of 96, in the same year of her platinum jubilee, the 70th anniversary of her accession. The phrase “grief is the price we pay for love” comes from a message from Elizabeth in consolation with the relatives of those killed in the “9-11” attacks in 2001 (text at The Guardian).

“In everlasting memory – her majesty Queen Elizabeth II – 1926-2022.” “Long live the King”

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Floreat Ultona

“May Ulster flourish” as the newly created Northern Ireland under “Sir James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, Prime Minister of Northern Ireland”. The Northern Ireland parliament was opened in 1921 and the coat of arms adopted in 1924 (WP); the Special Constabulary (including the B-Specials) had been formed prior to and in preparation for partition – the quote from Carson (also seen in an east Belfast mural) is from July 12th, 1920.

The text on the board is the same as at WP: “The Ulster Special Constabulary (USC; commonly called the “B-Specials” or “B Men”) was a quasi-military reserve special constable police force in what would later become Northern Ireland. It was set up in October 1920, shortly before the partition of Ireland. It was an armed corps, organised partially on military lines and called out in times of emergency, such as war or insurgency. It performed this role most notably in the early 1920s during the Irish War of Independence and the 1956-1962 IRA Border Campaign. During its existence, 95 USC members were killed in the line of duty. Most of these (72) were killed in conflict with the IRA in 1921 and 1922. Another 8 died during the Second World War, in air raids or IRA attacks. Of the remainder, most died in accidents but two former officers were killed during the Troubles in the 1980s. The Special Constabulary was disbanded in May 1970, after the Hunt Report, which advised re-shaping Northern Ireland’s security forces and demilitarizing the police. Its functions and membership were largely taken over by the Ulster Defence Regiment and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.”

This Belfast Live article (which has images from the launch) leads with the headline that this new board replaces a UVF mural, but there hasn’t been anything on this wall since a large “UDA” lettering in 1999. The adjacent wall, which has now been painted over, previously (in 2010) had a UVF flag which had been vandalised with “Jesus Christ Is Lord Of All’ graffiti by 2017.

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Wildflower Alley

Handy Helpers from Queen’s University help maintain the Wildflower Alley (Fb) between College Park Avenue and University Avenue. To “recognise the joint effort” (LinkedIn) a mural has been painted (by emic (ig)) along the Stanmillis Embankment, featuring flowers grown in the Alley.

Funding from Belfast City Council. Officially launched 2022-09-22 (Belfast Live)

Update: the side wall has been painted with a human head, wearing headphones, behind a sunflower. Image courtesy of Paddy Duffy.

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Stand By

There’s no sectarian muraling yet concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as distinct from pieces in shared spaces by street artists – see Ukraine Has Suffered Enough by FGB | Take These Seeds by emic | Нет войне! by Leo Boyd.

Previously we featured anti-Russian graffiti in east Belfast, pro-Donetsk graffiti in CNR west Belfast (Ireland Supports The People Of Donetsk, updated in My Enemy’s Enemy) and a mixture of pro-peace and anti-NATO pieces.

Today’s post shows a small sample of pro-Ukraine flags in PUL areas, including the Shankill (above, over the Bayardo Bombing memorial; something similar was seen in Ballycarry) and (below) the Village, and on the CNR side, a Russian and Soviet flag flying from Divis tower (final image).

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Soldier Of Ireland

After serving in the IRA in the War Of Independence, Liam Mellows was elected to the First Dáil and as a member of the second Dáil voted against the Treaty in January 1922 (his speech is recorded in Oireachtas.ie under the name “Liam Mellowes”). In the Civil War that followed, he served as IRA quartermaster in the force in the Four Courts that surrendered to Free State forces on June 30th, 1922. He was imprisoned in Mountjoy and executed in December, in reprisal for the killing of Seán Hayes (see Executed). (WP | An Phoblacht) His proposals for government were published posthumously as ‘Mellows Testament’ (NLI) and include state ownership of heavy industry, large estates, the transport system, and the banks. The sticker below quotes from that document: “Ireland, if her industries and banks were controlled by foreign capital, would be at the mercy of every breeze that ruffled the surface of the world’s money-markets.”

Stewart Street, Belfast

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The Industrial Revolution

Artist Raymond Henshaw produced a series of Markets-related boards in 2008 with support from the Arts Council and even though they are printed on laminates there is crazing – as well as human-caused damage – on some of them, the worst of which is the ‘Industry’ board in Upper Stanfield Street.

Previously: Social | Social History | Portraits | Sport & Culture

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A New Breed Of Ulster Defender

Here are a pair of large boards in the Ulster Museum on the theme of Cú Chulainn, one from each sect.

In the left-hand painting – the CNR piece, by Marty Lyons and a Short Strand artist – Francis Hughes of the IRA – in what we think is a unique break with tradition – takes the place of Cú Chulainn, who became a symbol of the 1916 Easter Rising when Oliver Sheppard’s statue of Cú Chulainn’s death was placed in the re-built GPO. Hughes has a tourniquet on his right leg, an assault rifle dangling from his wrist, and instead of the raven that signified Cú Chulainn’s death there is the symbol of republican political prisoner, the lark, which appears in the apex of many other republican murals.

In the second of the pieces – the PUL piece, painted by Dee Craig – the raven sits on the shoulder of a Cú Chulainn who has a red cloak and carries a Northern Ireland shield. “Down through the years, his shadow has cast a new breed of Ulster defender”: a (loyalist) hooded gunman. Thus while Cú Chulainn is the (surprising) “Ancient defender of Ulster!”, the UVF and UDA are its modern defenders, now that the B Specials and UDR are gone.

The dripping red hand in the top left is the ‘red hand of Ulster’; one version of the origin-story for the red hand is that the man who avenged Cú Chulainn’s death made a bloody hand-print to indicate his completion of the deed. Most people, however, will think of the legend that in a race to be first to touch the land of Ulster one contestant (perhaps Érimón Uí Néill) cut off his hand and threw it ahead of the others. (This legend was depicted in a lower Shankill mural and narrated in an east Belfast mural: The Strangest Victory In All History.)

The Black Pig’s Dyke is the collective name for a number of ditches built around 400 BCE, perhaps to prevent cattle-raiding. They share a common mythology: that they were created by huge black boar; they are on the Ulster-Connaught border, rather than the Ulster-Leinster border as shown in the painting, though there are similar earthworks in Down, Armagh (and Cork) (WP).

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Their Struggle Is A Workers’ One

“Murdered for their political beliefs: Tom Berry, Robert Elliman, Robert Millen, John Browne”. All four had a connection Markets or Ormeau area of south Belfast. Millen, from the Ormeau area, was shot in 1973 by the UVF; he played on the same soccer team (Bankmore Star) as Thomas Berry, who was shot in a Short Strand GAA club; Elliman was shot in a Markets pub; John Brown (without the “e”) was shot in his Cooke Street home in front of his family. The first three were all Protestants; the latter three were among 11 people who died in the 1975 feud between the Officials and the Provisionals. (Lost Lives)

“The war they wage is not a war of bigotry or greed, their struggle is a workers one, so everyone may lead a life with rights and liberty, in a land where they can say “Up the Army of the people, the Official IRA”.” “Erected by the Official Republican Movement.”

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The Glen Memory Wall

The Cregagh Glen – Lisnabreeny walk (National Trust) is home to a memorial marking the site of the (former) Lisnabreeny American Military Cemetery (featured previously). Today’s images feature a smaller and more recent memorial site, to the coronavirus lockdown. The sign asks for colourful items such as locks and ribbons but the picture above also shows a Translink ticket and a doggie poop bag.

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Smash Fascism And Capitalism

James Connolly and Lasair Dhearg (web) calling for revolution – “The day has passed for patching up the capitalist system; it must go” [from Labour, Nationality And Religion]” (seen previously on a sticker in Stop War) – on top of an unknown sticker involving a Union Flag, on top of a ‘Smash Fascism’ stencil, all competing for space, somewhat usually in the (PUL) Village – but see previously Even Protestants Love Marxism.

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