“This site housed the former Mid Donegall Road Bonfire for over two decades, until the expansion and development of the surrounding area including the City Hospital meant that it was no longer viable for a bonfire to remain on this site. Greater Village Regeneration Trust, through its work with The Health Trust, who own the site, and the local community, including the local bonfire builders wanted to have something on the site that could benefit the whole community and agreement was given for it to be transformed into the garden that is here today. Local Artist Johnny [sic] McKerr worked alongside Greater Village Regeneration Trust and the local community and this artwork was designed to depict and celebrate the heritage, history and culture which the people of this area are extremely proud of.”
The info board includes a photograph of the bonfire spilling out towards the car-park for the City. The other image is a photograph from the Peter Moloney Collection, used without permission, and photoshopped to add “DRL” – Donegall Road Loyalists.
According to Eddie Kelly of the GVRT, Carrickfergus castle is included because “This is where King William landed, and the annual bonfire is a symbol of a beacon lit across the coast to guide him” (Belfast Live).
Painted by JMK/Jonny McKerr (tw) at Coolfin St on Donegall Rd.
In September, 1914, six weeks after the Great War had begun, Edward Carson wrote to the Ulster Volunteers entreating “those who have not already responded” to “my call for Defenders of the Empire” to “enlist at once for the Ulster Division in Lord Kitchener’s Army”, fighting alongside “our fellow Britishers”: “Quit yourselves like men and comply with your country’s demand”. The impulse for the display of force shown here – two panels of hooded gunmen from the 1st East Antrim battalion of the UVF – is the other, original, motivation for the paramilitary force, which Carson describes as “to defend our citizenship in the United Kingdom” (Strachan & Nally).
For the RIR mural, see For Valour. The new panels shown here re-re-image the VC part of that previous mural.
Compared to the UVF, the UDA more strongly detect an existential threat to loyalism and evince a siege mentality that provokes the need for armed resistance. Hence the more frequent presence of armed gunmen in UDA murals (which is also due in part to the UVF being able to “re-image” around the Ulster Volunteers and the Somme). With Brexit and the Protocol, however, armed gunmen have recently been appearing more frequently in UVF murals – see, for example, If Our Shores Are Threatened | Bang Up To Date | Our British Identity.
“Springmartin–Highfield–Glencairn Ulster Defence Association est. 1971. Defending freedom from hate.” As the companion mural (We Will Take Nothing Less) makes clear, the hate is coming from a “fascist republican enemy” (“Sinn Féin/IRA”, presumably) and the government of Ireland. Graphically, this mural is the same as the previous one on this wall: Under The Protection Of The UDA.
The white dove (an albino rock dove/pigeon) is a domesticated bird and so not commonly seen in wilds of Belfast’s gardens and hills. It is probably more commonly seen in murals, serving as a symbol for the peace process (see “Hawks” & Doves). This one, by emic (web | tw | ig), can be seen at the Spectrum Centre on the Shankill.
“Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermudez … President of the Republic Of Cuba 11.6.2021. ‘Irish friends and Cubans living in Ireland have placed a Cuban flag on a mountain in the city of Belfast. The flag is 46 by 23 metres, the largest in the world. With the flag [is] the giant slogan and it’s [sic] demand to #UnblockCuba. [This is a] Moving and beautiful gesture from the “solidarious” children of an admirable people, [a] dignified and patriotic gesture of Cubans who are far away. Thank you for your unshakable solidarity …”
(Originally in Spanish: “Amigos irlandeses y cubanos residentes, han colocado en una colina visible desde la ciudad de Belfast, una bandera de Cuba, de 46 por 23 metros, la más grande en el mundo. La acompaña un letrero también gigante, demandando #UnblockCuba. Bello y conmovedor gesto de los solidarios hijos de un pueblo admirable, digno y de patriotas que están lejos. Gracias por la solidaridad invariable.” #LetCubaLive
“‘They won’t break me because the desire for [freedom and the] freedom of the Irish people is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then that we will see the rising of the moon’ – Bobby Sands [March 17th, 1981]” Originally in Irish: “Ní bhrisfidh siad mé mar tá an fonn saoirse, agus saoirse mhuintir na hEireann, i mo chroí. Tiocfaidh lá éigin nuair a bheidh an fonn saoirse seo le taispeáint ag daoine go léir na hEireann. Ansin tchífidh muid éirí na gealaí.”
UVF Scottish Brigade Volunteer Scott “Boab” Kerr, from the Govan area of Glasgow and Sons Of The Somme FB (Fb) died in 2015 and is remembered with a plaque on the corner of Beechfield Street in east Belfast.
“Am le haontacht na hÉireann” [Time for Irish unity]. Between stints in prison in 1976, Bobby Sands carried a green harp flag – symbol of Ireland and in particular of the United Irishmen – in an August march to protest the withdrawal of political status (Gérard Harlay/Bobby Sands Trust). He is shown here marching under the #TimeForUnity message on Sliabh Dubh in the campaign for a border poll and Irish unity “lenár linn”/”in our time” (Fb | tw).