Flying Solo

On May 20th, 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Harbour Grace in Newfoundland hoping to be the first woman to fly single-handedly across the Atlantic and make it to Paris. It didn’t go entirely to plan. Fifteen hours later, however, she landed in Robert Gallagher’s farm in Ballyarnett, forced down by bad weather and technical problems. The farmer’s wife recorded her recollections of the event, three years later (youtube).

“This work was designed and executed by Tom Agnew, Ceramic Artist, for Leafair Community Association (Fb) as part of the re-imaging communities programme funded by the Northern Ireland Arts Council – 2010.”

Lenamore Rd, Derry

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The Earth Writes Upon The Sky

Two Larne trees: above, the tree mosaic at the Town Hall steps created by artist Janet Crymble (see previously Sports We Love), with support from Larne Renovation Regeneration, Larne Trader’s Forum, and Mid & East Antrim Borough Council (NIWorld); below, the “Armada Tree” that is purported to have sprung from a chestnut or chestnut seeds in the pocket of a dead sailor in the Spanish Armada – the tree fell over after 432 years in 2020, a victim of root disease (anglican.org), but is remembered by the board depicting it in Upper Main Street, Larne.

“Local legend has it that when the Spanish Armada was passing these shores in 1588, a sailor was washed up at Ballygally village, no doubt from one of the ships blown off course by gales. Locals were said to have taken the body and buried it in the graveyard of the picturesque St Patrick’s Church at Cairncastle. The ancient tree beside the chuch grew from one of the chestnut seeds that the sailor had in his pocket when he was buried. The tree has been analysed and found to date back to the sixteenth century, adding credence to the story.”

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The Oasis

According to a history of Brown’s Square, the area was known as “the oasis” during WWII on account of its 3 dance-halls and 22 pubs (Religion, Riots And Rebels). As with so much publicly-funded art (though we cannot find any provenance for this art) it depicts Belfast in the “good old days” – that is, before the Troubles, which produced the so-called “peace line” dividing west Belfast.

In this case of Brown’s Square, the area was further desolated in anticipation of a planned ring road (formally to be known as the Belfast Urban Motorway). the plan produced only the subterranean “Westlink” that cut Brown’s Square in half. The images in today’s post are in Townsend Street, (these are from below the security gates; there are others above it). Before the construction of the Westlink, which opened in 1981, Townsend Street was considered the western border, and part of Brown’s Square. John Gilbert’s photographs at the Belfast Archive Project show the area in the mid-seventies, when much of it had been abandoned but prior to construction.

The Boys Brigade are shown parading in front of Townsend Presbyterian which held its last service in September and is being handed over to the Ulster Orchestra (Belfast Media) (see previously On The Other Side for stained glass windows inside the church). The Brown’s Square school was at the junction of Brown’s Square (the street) and Melbourne Street.

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The Kilcooley Arch

An arch of a different kind in the Kilcooley estate: a reflective steel arc overlooking a circular mosaic.

“This steel and ceramic sculpture was created by the residents, children and young people from the Kilcooley Community, working in collaboration with visual artists Duncan Ross and Helen Sharp. The sculpture was created as part of the North Down Borough Council Art of Regeneration Project. The sculpture was officially launched by the Chair of the Art of Regeneration Partnership Councillor Alan Leslie on the 28th April 2009. Funded by the Art Council of NI, NI Housing Executive, North Down Local Strategy Partnership through Peace II, Department for Social Development and North Down Borough Council. Tiles printed and suppled by Edinburgh Ceramics.”

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The People’s Guard

Gwardia Ludowa (the People’s Guard) was an underground communist force formed in 1942 to resist German occupation. They made two attacks on the “Germans only” Café Club in October 24, 1942 and July 11, 1943. The attacks are commemorated here in a mosaic by Władysław Zych on the site of the former club (now a book store).

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Pyrrhic Victory

In the Táin, Queen Medb invades Ulster (opposed single-handedly by Cú Chulainn) to take the Brown Bull (Donn Cuailnge) in order that her wealth matches that of her husband, Ailill, including his prize bull, Finnbhennach (the White-Horned). When she returns with the bull, the two bulls fight and kill each other. The mosaic shown above is a detail from Desmond Kinney’s 1974 mosaic mural off Nassau Street in Dublin. For more images and explanation, see Richard Marsh.

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One Million People Buried Here

“When the name is called by the one above/Their troubles at once did cease/Like the people who went there before them/I prey they will rest in peace.” The words of Shankill man Albert Haslett are used on a Daniella Balmaverde mosaic commemorating the dead buried in Shankill graveyard. The full poem can be found at Belfast Experience, which claims that the number of burials is about half a million. NVTv has a interview program with Haslett, who died in January of last year (2017) – photos and remembrance at Shankill Area Social History group.
Previously from the graveyard: Queen Of Ireland, Empress Of India | Watch-House | WWI Dead
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Ulster Reform Club

The Ulster Reform Club (web | tw) opened in 1885 and has resided at 4 Royal Avenue, Belfast since then. The mosaic is of the emblem of the club; it includes the flag of Ulster (red hand on a cross with yellow background) with a three-in-one shamrock (Ireland), rose (England), and thistle (Scotland) in the top corner.
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Kingdom Of Dalaradia

The HUBB community centre is host to a number of social groups, including those represented in the mosaic above: the Old Comrades group, the Seaview chapter of the Royal British Legion, North Shore and Ladies Somme memorial groups, a spotlight (perhaps in connection with the Civil Defence bowling club? – the HUBB is in what used to be a civil defence building), and the Kingdom of Dalaradia society. According to the eponymous web site, Dalaradia was “was a kingdom of the Cruthin in the north-east of Ireland and parts of Scotland in the first millennium.” Hence, perhaps, the red hand of Ulster together with the Scottish thistle.
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The Courage And Sacrifice Of The Hunger Strikers

The Clowney Street phoenix, which dates back to 1981 (see The Oldest Murals), has been repainted, and above, the blanketmen painting (see 1981-2011) has been replaced with a montage of photographs from the period, including prisoners on the blanket and dirty protest, the funeral of Sands and of McDonnell, and three pieces of graffiti: “Thirty thousands can’t be wrong” (Sands’s election to Westminster), “Bobby Sands murdered 1.17 am 5th May 1981”, and “My position is in total contrast to that of an ordinary prisoner. I am a political prisoner.”

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