My husband and I had a trip booked to Ireland in June 2020. Due to Covid, the trip never happened. For a myriad of reasons, it’s a trip that likely won’t happen any time soon, so I want to virtually go on the trip that we were supposed to go on two years ago.
I’ve pulled up my old itinerary, and I’m going to explore as much of this holiday as virtually as I can. I don’t intend to burn through this, but take my time and go rather slowly. I will post this trip in “daily” installments (for I am finding out that doing virtual tours takes a whole lot of time!). Come join me on my virtual vacation! (note: click on red hyper-links to take a virtual tour yourself!) DAY ONE LINK HERE.
DAY 2: fly Boston to Dublin (1045p-950a).
Take a bus to BELFAST
Method of transportation: Aircoach bus service direct from Dublin to Belfast, bus 705X (about 2.5 hours ride)
GOAL: Today’s goal was simply about getting to our final destination in one piece. We didn’t have too much planned for the day, but I did have some sights that I wanted us to see.
1- NORTHERN IRELAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUM
ABOUT: Museum dedicated to WWI and II. It contains the Home Front Exhibition and the first national memorial to the hundreds killed in the Belfast blitz.
I wanted to go here because I know nothing about Ireland’s role in either of those wars. I just now Googled about the BELFAST BLITZ, and here’s what I learned:
- It consisted of four German air raids on strategic targets in the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, in April and May 1941 during World War II, causing high casualties.
- As the UK was preparing for the conflict, the factories and shipyards of Belfast were gearing up. Belfast made a considerable contribution towards the Allied war effort, producing many naval ships, aircraft and munitions; therefore, the city was deemed a suitable bombing target by the Luftwaffe.
- Belfast, the city with the highest population density per area in the UK at the time, also had the lowest proportion of public air-raid shelters. Prior to the “Belfast Blitz” there were only 200 public shelters in the city, although around 4,000 households had built their own private shelters. These private air-raid shelters were Anderson shelters, constructed of sheets of corrugated galvanised iron covered in earth. Since most casualties were caused by falling masonry rather than by blast, they provided effective shelter for those who had them.
- 55,000 houses were damaged leaving 100,000 temporarily homeless. Outside of London, with some 900 dead, this was the greatest loss of life in a night raid during the Blitz.
- Over 900 lives were lost, 1,500 people were injured, 400 of them seriously. 50,000 houses, more than half the houses in the city, were damaged.
- In the heavily ‘blitzed’ areas people ran panic-stricken into the streets and made for the open country. As many were caught in the open by blast and secondary missiles, the enormous number of casualties can be readily accounted for.
Nurse Emma Duffin, who had served in World War I, contrasted death in that conflict with what she saw:
(Great War casualties) had died in hospital beds, their eyes had been reverently closed, their hands crossed to their breasts. Death had to a certain extent been … made decent. It was solemn, tragic, dignified, but here it was grotesque, repulsive, horrible. No attendant nurse had soothed the last moments of these victims; no gentle reverent hand had closed their eyes or crossed their hands. With tangled hair, staring eyes, clutching hands, contorted limbs, their grey-green faces covered with dust, they lay, bundled into the coffins, half-shrouded in rugs or blankets, or an occasional sheet, still wearing their dirty, torn twisted garments. Death should be dignified, peaceful; Hitler had made even death grotesque. I felt outraged, I should have felt sympathy, grief, but instead feelings of revulsion and disgust assailed me.
- Initial German radio broadcasts celebrated the raid. A Luftwaffe pilot gave this description “We were in exceptional good humour knowing that we were going for a new target, one of England’s last hiding places. Wherever Churchill is hiding his war material we will go … Belfast is as worthy a target as Coventry, Birmingham, Bristol or Glasgow.” William Joyce “Lord Haw-Haw” announced that “The Führer will give you time to bury your dead before the next attack … Tuesday was only a sample.” However Belfast was not mentioned again by the Nazis. After the war, instructions from Joseph Goebbels were discovered ordering it not to be mentioned. It would appear that Adolf Hitler, in view of de Valera’s negative reaction, was concerned that de Valera and Irish American politicians might encourage the United States to enter the war.
2- We were going to mosey on over to: SAINT ANNE’S CATHEDRAL
ABOUT: Also called Belfast Cathedral, it is full of intriguing works of art, mosaics and historical relics. It was built in the early 1900s to replace an 18th-century church. Has excellent acoustics.
3- Then we were going to pop our head’s into: ST. PATRICK’S CHURCH, just cuz.
4- We were to end our day at the DUKE OF YORK bar.
It was located in an area with lots of other pubs and an open-air museum. Their website gives this description:
Over the years The Duke of York in Belfast’s Commercial Court has been the life of the city. The court yard itself and the nearby adjoining streets bear witness to the commitment made by Willie Jack to celebrate the life and characters of this great city and country. Outstanding murals, street signage, Belfast memorabilia and hundreds of old Belfast photos now adorn the streets to make it one of the most “must see” places in the city. Visited by many and missed by few, there is something here for everyone.
We definitely would have had a whiskey in one of those pubs! My hubby, Ryan, happens to be a whiskey aficionado, so I asked him to write me a little something about what we missed! Apparently, we would have drank some Bushmills:
Here is Ryan’s blog entry:
Irish whiskey, a heavenly elixir that is often overshadowed by it’s brother Scotch whisky, (the “e” is omitted in Scotland) has been gaining in popularity over the past decade. Ireland uses the largest pot stills of all whiskey distilleries creating more contact with copper leading to more purity of the whiskey and increased fruity flavors. Putting in a little extra work to differentiate from its sibling, Irish whiskey is triple distilled instead of twice distilled resulting in an incredibly smooth whiskey.
North Ireland has the world’s oldest licensed distillery, Bushmills. There is a whole intriguing history of unlicensed distilleries worthy of a Netflix series, I’m looking at you Glenlivet, but we haven’t the time. I’m a total fan of Bushmills’ motto: “We’re not the best because we’re the oldest, we’re the oldest because we’re the best.” A pretty bold statement, but Bushmills whiskey is like going to your spouse’s holiday work party, and finding someone else with similar interests and actually enjoying yourself. Bushmills The Original, the entry malt of their core range, is an easy going sipper that is unpretentious, inviting, and like the work party acquaintance, just interested in having a good time. The familiar vanilla and fruity flavors of ex-bourbon casks makes the conversation with your fellow hostage effortless and enjoyable. As the night is progressing Bushmills pushes forward Black Bush and the party becomes more interesting. Black Bush is aged in Oloroso sherry casks for 8 years developing more complexity, subtle sweetness, and a silky mouthfeel. For an entry level whiskey, Black Bush is much more engaging that it has any right to be, kinda like how this night is turning out. Further exploration of the range shows they have 10, 16, and 21 year old single malts, and it is then you realize you might have just made friend at this awkward party.
Sounds to me that we need to buy some Bushmills to drink at home!
Our hotel was MALDRON HOTEL BELFAST CITY. one night, $128.
Overall, it looks like it would have been an “easy” day. A little bit of traveling, a little bit of learning, a little bit of drinking! I definitely would have ordered fish and chips for dinner. Possibly with a potato and leek soup. I will not attempt to make this dinner at home because I can never fry anything right and I can never find leeks in the store. Which brings me to….
RECIPES UPDATE! as mentioned in first post.
So, I tried my hand at cooking some classic Boston recipes. I am admittedly not the world’s best cook, but I tried following the directions to an absolute T, and here are my results:
CLAM CHOWDER: turned out waaay too onion-y and too thyme-y – both figuratively and literally. This soup took me a long time make, but it did last for three days, so I have to admit that it was worth it. I’d make it again, but with way less onion and thyme.
ROAST BEEF SANDWICH: man, meat is expensive these days! I cheaped out and got the least expensive cut of beef I could find. The sandwich turned out good enough, but it did not convince me that I was in Boston. I did learn how to make my own BBQ sauce, though.
LOBSTER ROLLS: I didn’t like the imitation crab meat that I bought, and I happened to buy a lot of it. The sandwich got an “A” for presentation and an “F” for flavor. It tasted like dirt. I will never make this at home again. I definitely was not feeling Boston while eating it.
BAKED BEANS: ya, I bought a can of it. I didn’t feel like cooking anymore.
all screenshots are copyright of the websites.
Next up: Full BELFAST day.