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Rebenectomy -> Northern Ireland Thread (16/11/2009 12:09:03 AM)

My sister and I both grew up in England, but now live in Belfast, and have done for some time. On the whole we don't meet that many other English people who've decamped in the same way we have (some, but not many) and while you do see the odd hen or stag night from across the water, more often than not they're from Scotland which has strong links with the area anyway. When I was in uni there were very few other English students and you were more likely to meet Spanish or French people at a house party than someone else from England. Just out of curiosity, is there still a stigma or perceived notion of what living in Belfast and/or Northern Ireland is like? If you were planning a weekend break, would it be one of the places you'd think about visiting? Or have you simply heard that the weather is shit and Dublin has more bars?   




Hex -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 12:27:15 AM)

Hmmm...I dont think the stigma is still there. Or least not as much. Belfast has come on leaps and bounds in recent years (not going to rival Dublin anytime soon but still Victoria Square isnt too bad[:D]) 

My own personal experience is that I was at Uni with alot of english people and I know quite a few Brits who moved over here and have no intention of ever going back.

Recently Ive definitely been hearing more english accents than ever before in the city.

So hopefully its a sign that Belfast/Northern Ireland isnt the dangerous den that people used to think it was. [:)]




sharkboy -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 10:02:36 AM)

Personally, I've seen a vast change in the number of English living over here since the Good Friday Agreement was signed.  Originally this was either through corporations deciding that we were finally a good target for expansion and decanting their officials (a la Tesco/Sainsburys etc), or families realising that we had the best education system in the UK and (at that time) the cheapest housing, and moving over to take advantage of both.  Then we had the housing boom and cheap property became very much a thing of the past.

It's certainly becoming a more popular destination for weekend breaks from England over the years, and I've had a few friends over for weekends that fell in love with the place, but there is still a certain stigma attached by some thanks to its history (which isn't helped by the black taxi tours that just show the worst of the city- personal bugbear there!).  The biggest obstacle though remains people's ignorance (and I use that word in its proper sense) about what the city is actually like - certainly quite a few of the people who have visited me have expressed pleasant surprise  that we're a pretty vibrant regional capital with its own strong culture rather than the quiet backwater away from civilisation that seems to be the prevailing view.

The biggest change these days though is the number of foreign tourists on the streets all year round.  In summertime, there's a queue for the tour buses, and even today they're driving round with a decent number of waterlogged tourists staring out the windows.  You can't get near the Albert Clock without negotiating a shoal of snapping cameras.  Yes, the weather can be a bit shit at times (fucking awful at the minute!), but no more so than any other northern town.  And Dublin may have more bars but would you really want to pay those prices?




Rebenectomy -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 10:39:14 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy


It's certainly becoming a more popular destination for weekend breaks from England over the years, and I've had a few friends over for weekends that fell in love with the place, but there is still a certain stigma attached by some thanks to its history (which isn't helped by the black taxi tours that just show the worst of the city- personal bugbear there!). 


I've certainly found that when I've eventually got friends and family over here they've loved it, but getting them over in the first place has always been the tricky part. The 'oh it's actually really nice, just like a normal City Centre' surprise reaction is what really gets me, as if they were expecting some post apocalyptic wasteland.

It's definitely a more popular destination than when I came over nine years ago. I still don't think it's as popular a destination for university as it could be, mainly because Queens and UU have such wealth of applicants from the local area that they don't try that hard to court students from elsewhere. The student scene suffers a little because of this, you don't get businesses competing for the student dollar in the same way as you do in England, so options can be a little limited.




shool -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 10:56:53 AM)

I'd never considered going to Belfast which shows up my ignorance entirely.

My expectation would be much like the run down place pictured in the commitments. This obviously shows me up to be a total idiot. [:)]




Hobbitonlass -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 10:59:30 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy
In the summertime, there's a queue for the tour buses,

At least we didn't have to wait that long [:D]  Shame we couldn't get in to Stormont though.

You're right though, it is a beautiful city and will definitely be going again (for a bit longer so I'm not so knackered next time!).   It helps to have such a knowledgable and hospitable guide as well [;)]




sharkboy -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 12:09:46 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: shool

I'd never considered going to Belfast which shows up my ignorance entirely.

My expectation would be much like the run down place pictured in the commitments. This obviously shows me up to be a total idiot. [:)]


Especially since that was set in Dublin [:D]  But perhaps that's part of the problem - there's so few representations of Belfast in TV or movies that show anything other than the Troubles or life in the sink estates, or the few that do get made rarely get an audience outside Northern Ireland anyway.  Generally though, the media coverage is no more representative of most of Belfast than Moss Side is of Manchester.




shool -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 12:15:13 PM)

Well there you go then. [sm=34.gif] [:D]




MOTH -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 1:07:24 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: sharkboy

quote:

ORIGINAL: shool

I'd never considered going to Belfast which shows up my ignorance entirely.

My expectation would be much like the run down place pictured in the commitments. This obviously shows me up to be a total idiot. [:)]


Especially since that was set in Dublin [:D]  But perhaps that's part of the problem - there's so few representations of Belfast in TV or movies that show anything other than the Troubles or life in the sink estates, or the few that do get made rarely get an audience outside Northern Ireland anyway.  Generally though, the media coverage is no more representative of most of Belfast than Moss Side is of Manchester.


At the same time, I wouldn't necessarily point our neighbours in the direction of Northern Irish media for a glowing portrayal of the place! NI Wags? Find Me the Funny? No-one would ever come to Belfast again...!






sharkboy -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 1:12:34 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: MOTH

At the same time, I wouldn't necessarily point our neighbours in the direction of Northern Irish media for a glowing portrayal of the place! NI Wags? Find Me the Funny? No-one would ever come to Belfast again...!


And lets not even mention the horror that is Give My Head Peace...[sm=sad15.gif]  There is great humour to be had here, just not according to local TV producers




jcthefirst -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 1:20:32 PM)

Oh Lord, Give My Head Peace is utter utter shite. I should tell Da that as I see him nearly every frickin' day.

I remember going across to England to visit a mate in uni, and his English uni mates thought we had to wear bulletproof vests to go down the shops. This was 2004.

Also I got asked "Do you have Channel 4 over there?"




Kilo_T_Mortal -> RE: Northern Ireland (16/11/2009 2:03:02 PM)

I think there is still a negative reputation to the place. I'm sure rather unfairly, but I still think it's there.




Hex -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 2:20:36 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: jcthefirst

Oh Lord, Give My Head Peace is utter utter shite. I should tell Da that as I see him nearly every frickin' day.

I remember going across to England to visit a mate in uni, and his English uni mates thought we had to wear bulletproof vests to go down the shops. This was 2004.

Also I got asked "Do you have Channel 4 over there?"


I see him every time I go shopping! And almost always in the same place.

A family member of mine brought her english ex boyfriend over for a weekend about ten years ago and when they went into town and a helicopter flew over, the guy thought it was some kind of air raid.




Twisted Kitty -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:04:00 PM)

When I first visited Belfast I didnít know what to expect.  My (and wrong) impression of it from the media was that it was run down and war torn.  That may have been the case in the past but certainly not now.  I was just one of many people ignorant of what Belfast is really like and trust me, itís a really great place.  You can see the money being invested through regeneration programmes and its become a bright, lively and cultured city with no resemblance to how its portrayed in the media. The city itself has some beautiful architecture, it has many great places to eat, loads of live music and concerts, tours, great pubs and friendly people.  I love it there and can whole-heartedly recommend it - just bring a brolly! [:D] 






Hobbitonlass -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:09:09 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Twisted Kitty

When I first visited Belfast

You put on a leprauchauns hat and beard........

[8D]




Kilo_T_Mortal -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:13:46 PM)

Didn't the unionists hunt down and kill the last of the leprachauns?




MOTH -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:21:24 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

Didn't the unionists hunt down and kill the last of the leprachauns?


They haven't gone away, you know...




Twisted Kitty -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:28:28 PM)

quote:

You put on a leprauchauns hat and beard........





I just sprayed coffee all over my screen at that comment. Really did lol. [sm=happy07.gif]  Personally, I thought it looked quite fetching.  




Kilo_T_Mortal -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 3:54:11 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: MOTH

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

Didn't the unionists hunt down and kill the last of the leprachauns?


They haven't gone away, you know...


The unionist hunters?




MOTH -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 5:28:14 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

quote:

ORIGINAL: MOTH

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

Didn't the unionists hunt down and kill the last of the leprachauns?


They haven't gone away, you know...


The unionist hunters?


No, the Real leprechaun splinter group




Harry Lime -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 6:57:36 PM)

Mrs Lime lives in Belfast so I'm over in Northern Ireland pretty regularly. In fact, I only got back from there on Sunday night (Kate Hoey was on my plane!!!).

I think it is a bloody lovely country. So much so that I'm planning to move there once she finishes her phd, rather than her move to England to me. Property isn't prohibitively expensive and the standard of living is actually superb; especially in places like Newcastle, Lisburn or Bangor.

Belfast itself is extremely vibrant without being a cold sprawling metropolis and it's packed with history and culture. The Titanic quarter is always worth a visit, the Grand Old Opera House is a constant source of stimulation, the QFT is a fabulous little cinema and the newly refurbished and re-opened Ulster Museum has proved well worth the wait, despite having the geometric abstract hell of a Sean Scully exhibition currently taking up two floors (they're just bloody stripes!!!!). Plus, with the Odyssey Arena, the city has a fantastic venue for live music that attracts all the big names. And, if you want to let out your inner chav, the Dundonald Ice Bowl is always a fun night out, replete with crazy golf courses on which you can thrash your girlfriend in a fun and legal way!

But, being a bird-spotting, Autumwatch-addicted geek-boy, what I love most about Northern Ireland is the countryside. It really is stunning. The Giants Causeway everybody knows, but places like Strangdford Lough, Murlough Beach (which is like something out of The Quiet Man or Ryans Daughter) and the Mourne Mountains are equally breathtaking in their wild beauty. The National Trust and The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust have provided countless parks and walks to enjoy these areas too. Crawfordsburn, Mount Stewart, Castle Espie, Murlough Nature Reserve and the wonderful, wonderful Tollymore Forest Park are all worth multiple visits.

Of course, the one drawback is that the politics of the country is still driven by wingnuts on both sides of the religios-political divide. Peter Robinson and his bonkers fire-and-brimstone wife Iris, Catriona Ruane and her mental schemes to destroy one of the best education systems in Europe, Ian Paisley Jr and his media-whore desire to comment on everything from Corporate Tax to the best way to fit a lightbulb and the insidious Martin McGuinness pettily throwing blocks in the way of reform at every turn. Still, I believe this will change in time as the voters of Northern Ireland continue to mature beyond their myopic Nationalist-Unionist agendas and realise that good governance can only come from independent, progressive and moderate leaders who want the best for all communities, not just their own. I'm really pretty hopeful of that actually.

So yeah. Northern Ireland. It's mega. Don't be put off by the stigma of the recent past. It really is smashing country. I'd advise anybody to have a holiday there.




MartinBlank76 -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 7:06:26 PM)

What Harry said.

They need to keep on developing the city centre (ban the buses from driving down royal avenue for a start), give it that more walk round pubs/cafes vibe. Parts of city centre can be like a ghost town early in the week.

Cathedral quarter is great with some of the best pubs in the city, duke of york, spaniard, the whig, etc. And the continental market is open now with the run up to christmas. Which always adds that nice (though overpriced) xmas vibe to the city hall.




JV -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 8:37:00 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: jcthefirst

Also I got asked "Do you have Channel 4 over there?"


To be fair, I went to university in Wales and they didn't have Channel 4 there so I could understand people thinking you might not have it in NI. (I can't tell you how excited we were in our final year of uni to get cable so we got both S4C and Channel 4 - finally able to watch Friends at a normal time of the day, ha!!!).

I have been to Northern Ireland quite a few times now as a mate of mine lives just outside Belfast and earlier this year I went over and met with Sharky, Hobbitonlass, and some others. I'll be honest and say that for years I thought it would be like a war zone, but that's thanks to having grown up with 80s news coverage in which every report from Northern Ireland seemed to involved a bomb or a murder or something.

My dad was in the Army when I was very young and then the TA; my mum was always telling me that if I met someone from Ireland or NI that I shouldn't tell them this in case it got my dad killed - as far as I know he's never even set foot in the Emerald Isle, neither north nor south!! I don't know how much of that was paranoia and how much was real.

When applying to uni, I didn't even consider Belfast. To be honest, I chose my universities at random (so randomly that I almost ended up doing French & Swedish in East Anglia instead of French & Spanish - oops) but even so I don't recall ever thinking about Northern Ireland. I started at uni a good 13 years ago mind.

My first trip to Northern Ireland was, ooh, probably about 5 or 6 years ago now, and I've always had a good time visiting my friend there. Only one time was there trouble and that was the first time in a long time actually, but it started happening when we were out one night. Missed all of it as it hit Carrickfergus after we'd left the restaurant there, but there was a burning transit van blocking the road leading onto my mate's estate and she was mostly gutted that her favourite Chinese takeaway went up in smoke that night. I never felt in any danger though and my mate is so used to stuff like that that the only thing that annoyed her (aside from the Chinese going up in flames) was that she had planned to take me on the bus tour the next day to go down the Shanklin Road and she was miffed cos we had to go to the zoo instead (which is pretty cool actually).

I love Northern Ireland, and the Antrim coast road is just lushhhhh. [:)]

*edit* Oh, and I forgot to mention... My first trip to Northern Ireland I remember going "what's that?" and my mate was like, "a water cannon", and then "so what's that then?" "oh, that's a police car" as some unrecognisable armoured vehicle shot past.... Water cannons and armoured police cars are not usually spotted on the streets of England, Wales, or Scotland as far as I know!




Kilo_T_Mortal -> RE: Northern Ireland (17/11/2009 8:55:37 PM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: MOTH

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

quote:

ORIGINAL: MOTH

quote:

ORIGINAL: Kilo_T_Mortal

Didn't the unionists hunt down and kill the last of the leprachauns?


They haven't gone away, you know...


The unionist hunters?


No, the Real leprechaun splinter group


begorah!




MOTH -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 9:50:34 AM)

quote:

ORIGINAL: Harry Lime

Mrs Lime lives in Belfast so I'm over in Northern Ireland pretty regularly. In fact, I only got back from there on Sunday night (Kate Hoey was on my plane!!!).

I think it is a bloody lovely country. So much so that I'm planning to move there once she finishes her phd, rather than her move to England to me. Property isn't prohibitively expensive and the standard of living is actually superb; especially in places like Newcastle, Lisburn or Bangor.

Belfast itself is extremely vibrant without being a cold sprawling metropolis and it's packed with history and culture. The Titanic quarter is always worth a visit, the Grand Old Opera House is a constant source of stimulation, the QFT is a fabulous little cinema and the newly refurbished and re-opened Ulster Museum has proved well worth the wait, despite having the geometric abstract hell of a Sean Scully exhibition currently taking up two floors (they're just bloody stripes!!!!). Plus, with the Odyssey Arena, the city has a fantastic venue for live music that attracts all the big names. And, if you want to let out your inner chav, the Dundonald Ice Bowl is always a fun night out, replete with crazy golf courses on which you can thrash your girlfriend in a fun and legal way!

But, being a bird-spotting, Autumwatch-addicted geek-boy, what I love most about Northern Ireland is the countryside. It really is stunning. The Giants Causeway everybody knows, but places like Strangdford Lough, Murlough Beach (which is like something out of The Quiet Man or Ryans Daughter) and the Mourne Mountains are equally breathtaking in their wild beauty. The National Trust and The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust have provided countless parks and walks to enjoy these areas too. Crawfordsburn, Mount Stewart, Castle Espie, Murlough Nature Reserve and the wonderful, wonderful Tollymore Forest Park are all worth multiple visits.

Of course, the one drawback is that the politics of the country is still driven by wingnuts on both sides of the religios-political divide. Peter Robinson and his bonkers fire-and-brimstone wife Iris, Catriona Ruane and her mental schemes to destroy one of the best education systems in Europe, Ian Paisley Jr and his media-whore desire to comment on everything from Corporate Tax to the best way to fit a lightbulb and the insidious Martin McGuinness pettily throwing blocks in the way of reform at every turn. Still, I believe this will change in time as the voters of Northern Ireland continue to mature beyond their myopic Nationalist-Unionist agendas and realise that good governance can only come from independent, progressive and moderate leaders who want the best for all communities, not just their own. I'm really pretty hopeful of that actually.

So yeah. Northern Ireland. It's mega. Don't be put off by the stigma of the recent past. It really is smashing country. I'd advise anybody to have a holiday there.


nice bit of promotion Harry!
Just one thing missing, a shout out for the lakelands of Fermanagh, my home county. Yes, it's wet there, but only when i moved away did i appreciate it - you can hire a cruiser on the lake, visit the Marble Arch Caves, play a round at the new Lough Erne Golf Resort (it's expensive, mind!) or simply a pub crawl on the island town of Enniskillen.

Oh, and anyone visiting should really try and catch GAA game - particularly hurling - for a real glimpse of Irish culture.




jcthefirst -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 12:30:12 PM)

But not Irish League football. Dire.




sharkboy -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 1:07:29 PM)

All too true - how can you take a league seriously when it's top flight was once officially known as "The Kentucky Fried Chicken Irish Premier Division" [:D]

However, it is  the world's 2nd oldest national footie league - only the English league is older




jcthefirst -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 3:31:20 PM)

Bangor rocks too. But I might be biased.

I love the Triangle (that's Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush, not Bermuda) mainly cause I went to uni and lived up there for three years. Lovely towns, great nightlife and restaurants, and always plenty to do. Young and old alike.

Also, the Giant's Causeway. Built by an actual giant, dontchaknow?




simonmckergan1 -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 5:27:47 PM)

I'm orginally from Portstewart, a place I love.  I think that it has one of the best and beautiful beaches in the country and the anchor is a great pub.  I moved to Belfast 6 years ago for work and despite its reputation I love living here.  It has great pubs, shops and cinema's (movie house and QFT).




Rebenectomy -> RE: Northern Ireland (18/11/2009 5:44:48 PM)

The Belfast Flickr Group is quite good for showing different parts of the city

http://www.flickr.com/groups/belfast/






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