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Belfast Murals Explained

The Belfast Murals Explained

Northern Ireland has a complicated political past, and although today the country is prosperous, peaceful, and vibrant this was not always the case. Rich in culture there are many Belfast murals you need to see.

From the 1960s until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, Northern Ireland was a country at war. Conflict between Nationalist and Unionist citizens over the partition of Northern Ireland, and its British Control, resulted in extreme violence, destruction and killings lasting 30 years and more. This conflict however can be traced back hundreds of years to the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, when Britain first seized Northern Ireland from the Irish.

Northern Ireland’s murals today are arguably the most famous political murals in the world, symbols of the troubles, depicting these conflicts, political and religious divisions, and commemorating, communicating, and displaying aspects of culture and history. Today there are over 2000 wall paintings and murals scattered across Belfast alone and many Belfast murals you need to see.

Cab Tours Belfast a leading Belfast Black Taxi Tour Company run a daily Belfast Black Taxi Mural Tour that visits the city’s best-known murals. This article lists the best murals in Belfast that are worth seeing.

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1. James Connolly Mural

James Connolly Mural Belfast

Seen at Clondara Street, James Connolly was a Socialist and a trade union leader and an Irish Republican who was one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

2. Pearse Jordan’s Mural

Pearse Jordans Mural Belfast

Seen at Hugo Street, Pearse Jordan was shot in the back by Police. His death was one of a number of high-profile shoot to kills by the security forces.

3. Bobby Sands Mural

Bobby Sands Mural Falls Road Belfast

Painted in 1998, and seen on the Falls Road, Sinn Féin Head Quarters, the Bobby Sands Mural depicts the smiling image, often considered iconic of IRA leader and hunger striker Bobby Sands. 

4. King Billy Mural

King Billy Mural Shankill Road Belfast

This mural in the Protestant Shankill Road area of Belfast commemorates the Protestant King William of Orange, who defeated the Catholic James II at the Battle of the Boyne on 12th July 1690. Protestants today celebrate this victory every 12th July.

5. Gaelic Athletic Association

The Gaelic Athletic Association Mural

This is a mural of Ireland’s largest sporting organisation and this mural can be seen at Hawthorn Street, Belfast.

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6. Failte Feirste Thiar

Failte Feirste Thiar Mural Belfast

This mural is a welcome message to Belfast and can be seen at Divis Street Irish Culture

7. Jim Bryson Mural

Jim Bryson IRA Mural Belfast

Seen at Ballymurphy Road, this mural is of 25 year old Jim Bryson an IRA volunteer who was shot in Ballymurphy by British Forces on August 31st, 1973. Jim died from his injuries three weeks later on September 22nd.

8. Welcome to the Shankill Road

Welcome to The Shankill Road Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Gardiner Street, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

Painted on a gable wall at the corner of Gardiner Street the ‘Welcome to the Shankill Road’ mural welcomes visitors to the mainly unionist area in a varied selection of 20 languages including Welsh, Spanish, German, Chinese and Arabic. The mural is aimed at an international audience to convey a positive and welcoming message.

9. A-Z History of the Shankill Road

A to Z Shankill History Mural with Belfast Black Taxi Tour Driver

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

North Boundary Street, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

The A to Z History of Shankill Road Mural consists of digital images, chosen and created by the Shankill community and printed onto aluminium, detailing the A to Z History of the Shankill. This mural comprises images representing all aspects of the areas history, from housing, traditions, politics and famous people, places and events that are from or took place in this protestant community. The accompanying text panel, explains each image in context, not only for the benefit of the community, but also for the many tourists who visit the area.

10. Jackie Coulter Mural

Jackie Coulter Mural Shankill Belfast

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Boundary Way, Shankill Parade, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

Found at Boundary Way, Shankill Parade the Jackie Coulter Mural was painted to commemorate the life and death of Coulter a loyalist paramilitary. Jackie Coulter was a lieutenant and leading member of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) that was shot and killed by the rival loyalist paramilitary organisation the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in August 2020, in a loyalist feud.

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11. The 'Summer of 69' Mural

The Summer of 69 Belfast Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Hopewell Crescent, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

This loyalist mural at Hopewell Crescent off the Belfast Crumlin Road commemorates the sectarian riots and bombings of 1969 when families in mixed communities were burnt out of their homes by their neighbours on religious grounds. The sight of furniture dumped in the street and the word “taken” painted on an empty house next to a burned-out one was common. This Shankill mural shows two boys standing in front of heir homes after they have been destroyed.

12. The Women's Quilt Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Hopewell Crescent, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

The Women’s Quilt Mural can be found in Lower Shankill, Belfast. Created by the Lower Shankill Women’s Group using the theme of a traditional family quilt as their inspiration, the women decided to decorate the quilt with words that described themselves and family members. It shows a patchwork quilt of words related to women and the roles they play in families and communities, such as “aunt”, “mother”, “sister”, “granny”, and “caring”, “diverse”, “strong”, and “unheard voices”. The words “loud” and “stubborn” represents the men.

13. Stevie McKeag Mural

Stevie McKeag Belfast Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Hopewell Crescent, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

Stephen McKeag, nicknamed “Top Gun”, was a Northern Irish loyalist paramilitary and a Commander of the Ulster Defence Association’s (UDA) ‘C’ Company in the 1990s. He is belived to have been responsible for many killings of Catholics and Republicans. Although most of his operations took place from the Shankill Road in Belfast McKeag was actually a native of the lower Oldpark Road in the North of Belfast. McKeag was found dead by family members at his home at Florence Court off the Crumlin Road on 24th September 2000. With his face heavily bruised and a crossbow bolt embedded into the wall nearby, it was initially assumed that he had been killed; however a post-mortem found that his death was caused by a lethal combination of painkillers and cocaine. The mural in Hopewell Crescent depicts McKeag wearing a beret amid a blue sky background with the words ‘Remember With Pride’.

14. Stevie McCrea Mural

Stevie McCrea Belfast Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Hopewell Crescent, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

Stevie McCrea was an Red Hand Commando (RHC) volunteer imprisoned in Long Kesh for his role in the killing of a 17 year old Catholic James Kerr in a Lisburn Road Garage. After serving 15 years he was killed from an IPLO attack on the Orange Cross (Shankill Social Club) on the 16th February 1989. Three IPLO gunmen burst into the main bar and started shooting indiscriminately. Stevie sacrificed himself to protect his friends by throwing himself in front of a hail of bullets. He died two days later from his injuries in the Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital. The IPLO was a small but very violent Irish republican paramilitary organisation which was formed in 1986 by disaffected and expelled members of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). It developed a reputation for intra-republican and sectarian violence, and criminality.

15. Sam Rocket (YCV)

Samuel Rocket Mural

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Disraeli Street, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

Members of the UDA killed Samuel Rockett (21), a member of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), in front of his girlfriend and 18 month old child while in his girlfriend’s home in the Lower Oldpark area, North Belfast. The killing was part of a feud between the UDA and the UVF. The UVF killed Bobby Mahood and Jackie Coulter earlier and Rockett was killed by the UDA in retaliation for their deaths.

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16. Shankill Star Flute Band

Mural Location:

Religious Goup:

Disraeli Street, Belfast

Protestant / Loyalist / Unionist Mural

This mural commenorates Belfast loyalist and Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) member Brian Robison who was killed on 2nd September 1989 by an undercover British Army Unit. His death is one of the few shoot-to-kills to have involved a loyalist victim. The mural contains images from the First World War such as soldiers (both British and German), trenches and poppies and was sponsored by the Shankill Star Flute Band, in Disraeli Street – where Robinson grew up. Robinson’s mother Margaret suffered a fatal heart attack upon hearing the news of her son’s death. The two were buried on the same day.

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