The International Wall (Divis Street)

The so-called “International Wall” on Divis Street marks the entry into nationalist west Belfast. As you travel out from the city centre, you cross the motorway and come to Divis Tower, a block of high-rise flats. Beginning in 2003, a wall just below Divis Tower was painted with murals and it also serves as a gateway to the area, especially in 2011 it gained ‘Welcome To West Belfast’ and ‘Coiste Tours’ murals (there was also for a long time (1988 to 2000) a large religious mural on the Morning Star hostel, which seemed to usher one into another world). But shortly above Divis Tower you turn a corner and it is no longer possible to see downtown behind you. You pass between the stately Northern Bank building and the elevated St Comgall’s, and looking ahead into the broadening terrain, you see the mountain in the distance and a wall, about 68 metres (222 feet) in length, covered in murals. When you see the International Wall, you know you have definitely entered a distinctive place, and the wall serves as a manifesto of the community. It’s somewhat surprising then, that having left the supposedly cosmopolitan city centre, the concerns of nationalist west Belfast reach out across the globe.
The wall sometimes sported electoral posters but in general went unused until the year 2000, which is after the Good Friday Agreement. This is perhaps because of the British Army observation post on the top of Divis Tower (it would not be dismantled until late 2005) and because the wall is a perimeter wall of a commercial enterprise (Andrews Flour), which also gave the area something of an industrial feel.
At first, it was not “the international wall”. The first mural was a long stencil to victims of plastic bullets, showing in 1:1 scale the distances at which they had been shot. This was gradually replaced with murals and boards, moving from left to right, including, though not exclusively, pieces in support of international causes: by 2002 there were panels about Palestine, Turkish “F-Block” hunger strikers, and imprisoned Native American Leonard Peltier.
The very first spot on the left-hand side of the wall, which is partly obscured by a traffic signal, was not painted until 2006, when a mural to “the first blanket man” Kieran Nugent was painted. Brendan “The Dark” Hughes, IRA OC in Long Kesh until he and several others went on hunger strike in 1980, was later (2008) added. Since 2006 a mural or board to Nugent (and Hughes) has continuously graced the wall, almost always in this spot.
2006 was also the year in which the wall was completely filled for the first time. The last spot (on the far right) was given a mural to Liam MacCarthy (of the MacCarthy Cup), replacing a small ETA mural, some boards, a stencil, and graffiti, which together did not cover the entire wall.
In addition to a Nugent/Hughes mural (in the #1 spot), the wall has almost always had a pro-Palestine mural (immediately following Nugent), a POW or “dissident” mural (immediately follow that), and, starting in 2003, a ‘black taxi’ mural (about two-thirds of the way along, but in various positions).
Murals were later also painted on the adjacent wall on Northumberland Street and contains many internationally-themed murals and as such can now be considered just as much a part of the international wall as Divis Street. There is a separate page giving a visual history of Northumberland Street. The wall was filled (up to the first set of security gates, at least) by 2014.

References in parentheses: M = Peter Moloney collection; J = Jonathan McCormick collection

Linked title = Extramural Activity post
For individual histories of each part of the wall, please see the map.

2000-04: Peter Meddlesome “Telling Lies! Who Me?” (description – but no image – at J0423) – Ban Plastic Bullets

 

2002: Blank – Ógra Shinn Féin (M01497) – RUC Must Go (M01500) – remains of Castlerea Five (M01498) (above)/white Maghaberry (below) – Our Actions Are Political (M01620) – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) (M01621) – remains of Ban Plastic Bullets (M01502) – Join Now Eire Nua (M01619) – Political Status Now (M02214)/Tommy Crossan (M01501) (above)/ETA (below) (M01752)/Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below, right) (M01989)
2002-later: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Our Actions Are Political (M01620) – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) (M01621) – Saoirse Do Peltier (M01753) – remains of Ban Plastic Bullets (M01502) – Join Now Eire Nua (M01619) – Political Status Now (M02214)/Tommy Crossan (above)/ETA (below, left) (M01752)/Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below, right) (M01989)
2002 wide shot (M01755) About two-thirds of Ban Plastic Bullets remain.

M01755+

 

2004 line-up: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Our Actions Are Political (M01620) – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) (M01621) – Saoirse Do Peltier (M01753) – PSNI Spot the difference (with red paint over Ban Plastic Bullets; fl. 2003) (M02001) – WBTA (yellow paint over Ban Plastic Bullets (fl. 2003) (M02002) – Cherish The Children (blue paint over Ban Plastic Bullets) (M02221) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (painted c. August 10th, 2004) – Castilla Nacion (2003-09) (M02217) – Catalan (M02216) – Join Now Eire Nua (M01619) – IRPWA/Tommy Crossan (M02215) (above)/ETA (below, left) (M01752)/Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below, right) (M01989)

2004 wide shot (M02224) Ban Plastic Bullets is gone; the first spot remains unpainted.

M02224+

2005: Blank – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Our Actions Are Political (M01620) – Turkish Hunger Strike (2001) (M01621) – Bodenstown (Mo2578) – WBTA (board, yellow wall) (M02002) – Cherish The Children (blue paint over Ban Plastic Bullets) (M02221) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (painted c. August 10th, 2004) – Castilla Nacion (2003-09) (M02217) – Catalan (M02216) – Join Now Eire Nua (M01619) – IRPWA/Tommy Crossan (M02215) (above)/ETA (below, left) (M01752)/Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below, right) (M01989)

January 2006 line-up: Nugent (M02576) – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Douglass (2006-02? replaces 3 small pieces) – Bodenstown (Mo2578) – Manchester Martyrs (shamrock) – Fight Bigotry (M02579) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (painted c. August 10th, 2004) – WBTA Gabhal An Chaisleain (black paint over Ban Plastic Bullets) (M02580) – Catalan (M02216) – Join Now Eire Nua (M01619) – small IRPWA, Tommy Crossan, ETA (below, left) (M01752)/Support the hunger-strikers in Turkey (below, right) (M01989)

2006: Nugent (M02576) – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Douglass – Bodenstown (Mo2578) – Manchester Martyrs (shamrock) (M02884) – Fight Bigotry (M02579) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (painted c. August 10th, 2004) – WBTA Sands (M02883) – National Hunger Strike Rally (M02882) – blank/in preparation (for ‘No Imperialist Intervention In Iran’ J2803) – McCarthy

2006 wide shot (M02885) Although it cannot be seen, the wall is now completely full.

M02885+

?July? 2007: Nugent (M02576) – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Douglass – Bodenstown (Mo2578) – Manchester Martyrs (shamrock) (M02884) – Fight Bigotry (M02579) – Operation Iraqi Liberation (painted c. August 10th, 2004) – WBTA Sands (M02883) – Collusion Was Not Only Not An Illusion (M03523) – Stop Plan Bush (M03522) – McCarthy

2007 wide shot (M03525)

M03525+

December 2007 line-up: Nugent (M02576) – Palestine V/Palestine (yellow/freedom) (M01761)/Tricolour V (M01759) – Maghaberry barbed wire (M01758) – Douglass – Guernica (painted August 2007; original plaque at right unveiled by Gerry Adams August 12 – the Guernica and Gaza bombs were added later) – Brigadas Internacionales (painted August 2007) (M03789) – Operation Iraqi Liberation – WBTA (tricolour/8 pounds) – blank (bookmark) – Askatasuna – Stop Plan Bush (M03522) – McCarthy

July 2008 (Google Maps) line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008): Hughes “was added into the [Nugent] mural after he passed away in February 2008” – 2012 International Wall Calendar; DS4 plate 11) – Palestine We Will Return (M03990) – Maghaberry (IRPWA) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Douglass – Guernica – Manchester Martyrs – Operation Iraqi Liberation (rhs modified 2009 to include Palestine flag and figures) – WBTA Trax (M04459) – Meehan (bookmark) (M03983) – Askatasuna – Stop Plan Bush (M03522) – McCarthy

June 2009 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine We Will Return Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) (M04821) – Maghaberry (IRPWA) – Museum (bookmark)(M03987) – Douglass – Guernica – Manchester Martyrs – Arkansas ’57/Ardoyne ’01/South Belfast ’09 (2009) – WBTA Trax purple (M04818) – Meehan (bookmark) (M03983) – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years/2009 (2009) – McCarthy

2010 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) (M04821) – Maghaberry (IRPWA) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Douglass – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Raidió Fáilte (M05635) – Falls Curfew – WBTA Trax purple (M04818) – Meehan (bookmark) (M03983) – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years/2009 (2009) – McCarthy

2010 wide shot (M05638)

M05638+

March 2011 (Google Maps) line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine We Will Return Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) (M04821) – Maghaberry (IRPWA) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Relatives Action Committee (2010) (M06467) – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Raidió Fáilte (M05635) – Falls Curfew – WBTA Trax purple (M04818) – Meehan (bookmark) (M03983) – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years/2009 (2009) – Oppose Racism (2010) (M06468)

July 2011 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine We Will Return Barbarian Israeli Aggression (2009) (M04821) – Maghaberry (IRPWA) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Relatives Action Committee (2010) (M06467) – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Raidió Fáilte (M05635) – Falls Curfew – WBTA Trax purple (M04818) – Meehan (bookmark) (M03983) – Askatasuna – Cuba 50 years/2009 (2009) – Oppose Racism (2010) (M06468)

July 2012 (Google Maps) line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) (M08095) – Maghaberry End Strip Searches (M07522) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Relatives Action Committee (2010) (M06467) – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Raidió Fáilte (M05635)- Falls Curfew – WBTA (July 2012 – b&w, “real story”) in progress! – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg  – Cuba Free The Five (M08097) – whitewash in preparation for Anti-Racism (Roma)

September 2012 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) (M08095) – Maghaberry End Strip Searches (M07522) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Relatives Action Committee (2010) (M06467) – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Raidió Fáilte (M05635) – Falls Curfew – WBTA (July 2012 – b&w, “real story”)Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg  – Cuba Free The Five (M08097) – Anti-Racism (Roma)

2013-02-28 line-up: Nugent/Hughes (2008) – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) (M08095) – Maghaberry End Strip Searches (M07522) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Free Marian Price (bookmark) – Milltown 25thGuernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Local VolunteersFalls Curfew – WBTA (July 2012 – b&w, “real story”)Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg  – Cuba Free The Five (M08097) – Anti-Racism (Roma)

2013-02-28 MilltownWide+
2013 wide shot (X00982)
2013-08-08 line-up: Nugent/Hughes – Palestine 4,400 political prisoners (2012) (M08095) – End Internment (2013) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Free Marian Price (bookmark) – Milltown 25th – Guernica – Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta (M05634) – Local Volunteers – Falls Curfew – WBTA (July 2012 – b&w, “real story”) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg  – Cuba Free The Five (M08097) – Anti-Racism (Roma)
Images, first from the left (X01245), and just below, from the right (X01246).
2013-08-08 IntWallLeft+
 
2013-08-08 IntWallRight+
changes since 2013-08-08
2014-10-25 Catalan Vote replaces Hughes/Nugent
2014-09-28 Stop Tory Cuts incompletely replaces The Big Plan
2014-08-17 Equality For Travellers replaces Say “No” To Racism
2014-08-09 Scairt Amach replaces End Internment (2013)
2014-07-18 Gaza/Napalm replaces 4,400 political prisoners
2014-06-02 Say No To Racism replaces Cuba – Free The Five
2014-05-28 Time For Our Truth replaces Gerry Adams
2014-05-03 Gerry Adams replaces Falls Curfew
2014-03-04 Maze Ablaze replaces Guernica
2014-02-28 Obama Holds The Key replaces Guernica
2013-12 Alec Reid bookmark replaces Marian Price
2013-10 Free Otegi replaces Never Actually Existed/Roma
2013-09 Gaeltacht Quarter (The Big Plan) replaces previous Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta
From the left …  (X02313)
2014-10-27 IntWallLeft+
… from the right: (X02314)
2014-10-27 IntWallRight+
2015-01 Nugent board replaces Catalan Vote
2014-10-29 Nugent & Farrell added to hunger-strikers mural
2015-06 Clive Dutton bookmark over remaining part of Na Ceathrún Gaeltachta
2015-06 Scairt Amach replaced by 100% British
2015-08 100% British becomes Defence Of The Nation
2015-07-31 line-up: Nugent board – Gaza/Napalm – Defence Of The Nation (in progress) – Museum (bookmark) (M03987) – Alec Reid (bookmark) – Milltown 25th – Maze Ablaze – Obama Holds The Key – Stop Tory Cuts – Clive Dutton (bookmark) – Local Volunteers – Time For Our Truth – WBTA (July 2012 – b&w, “real story”) – Hunger Strikers/Frank Stagg  – Equality For Travellers – Free Otegi
Images: left (X02943), middle (X02944), right (X02945)

  

2015-09 Refugees Welcome replaces Equality For Travellers
In 2016 the entire wall was repainted for the centenary of the Rising with a long, multi-panel, mural depicting republicanism throughout the centuries, with a focus on connections to Belfast – with the exception of the 32CSM mural in the third spot and a new IRPWA in the final spot. Work began in March; the mural was launched on August 3rd, on the centenary of Casement’s execution.
The first piece painted was the Carson/loyalist gunrunning panel, followed by the historical predecessors panel and the MacDiarmada/projection/local volunteers section (the local volunteers were given vintage uniforms and weapons). Here is the wall in early May with these three in progress: (X0352)
03452 2016-05-10 IntWall2016 whole+
By mid-July, the Howth gun-running and Shan Van Vocht sections had been added and work has started on the Willowbank/GPO section. (X03668)
03668 2016-07-20 IntWall2016 w+
 The wall on August 3rd, the date of its official launch (Casement’s execution). The Willowbank and GPO scene has been completed, the hunger strikers mural incorporated, and Casement and Peltier added as a book-end. (The edge of the in-progress IRPWA mural can be seen on the right.) (X03708)
03708 2016-08-03 IntWall2016 r
The 1916-2016 wall, from left to right, late August, 2016:

Image from early December, 2017, of Divis Street and part of Northumberland Street. The 1916 images to the left of the 32CSM mural have been replaced: Kieran Nugent has been restored to the #1 spot, followed by Ireland Stands With Catalonia (then the 32CSM mural) and then the remaining 1916 panels. The IRPWA ‘Bilal Kayed’ mural is at the end. (X04708)