I drove up to Belfast yesterday. It took only two and a half hours from Harold’s Cross Road to The Falls Road. I suppose with all the talk on the news recently about Flag Protests, I thought that the place would be festooned with Union Jacks but no, I actually only saw two Union flags flying the whole day.
I was going up to visit the Cultúrlann in West Belfast, it was easy to find – as you drive from Dublin, you come into Belfast on the M1 motorway. When you get to Exit 1, you take that exit, drive down to a roundabout, and take the second exit onto Broadway (!). This brings you up to traffic lights, straight in front of you, you see the Beehive Bar and you turn left onto The Falls Road. Fifty yards on and you see the red brick tower of an old Presbyterian church on your left, with a modern glass atrium in front. That’s Cultúrlann McAdam Ó Fiaich. ( see www.culturlann.ie )
I should’ve said that you’ll see a big sculpture as you come up to Exit 1 on the motorway, you can’t miss it. ( see photo above from www.placeni.org ) It’s called the Rise; it’s 37.5 metres high, the biggest in Belfast; it’s the work of sculptor Wolfgang Buttress. It has another name or two but I couldn’t possibly mention them on this blog. I think it’s beautiful, and the starlings seem to like it too.
I was visiting the Cultúrlann to make final preparations for my solo show there. ( More about that later ) You know, I was a bit nervous driving up there yesterday but I needn’t have been. The Cultúrlann is in the heart of the Gaeltacht Quarter in Belfast. Apparently the trouble is in a very small area of the city, nowhere near where I was.
You know the scariest moment I had yesterday? I was arriving back into Dublin on the M1. You know where the road divides into the M50, the Port Tunnel and goodness knows what… so many lanes, so little time – I almost drove into the Port Tunnel by mistake.
Go sábhála Dia sinn !
PS: the Union flags that I saw were flying near Banbridge, I think