My family left Belfast when I was young; it probably would have happened eventually anyway, but The Troubles certainly helped speed my parents’ decision making along. The danger and uncertain future they faced made it easy for them to accept my uncle’s offer of a place to stay and the promise of work in a much more stable environment.
Although I can’t blame my parents for leaving when they did, nowhere else has ever felt quite like home the way our place in Belfast did for me. I didn’t understand the reasoning behind why we left until I was much older, and I think that was part of the reason why it took me so long to accept the fact that we had to leave. I’ve gone back many times. What started as a family visit once or twice turned into a fairly regular holiday for me. If I haven’t been for a while, it does seem like I can hear it calling me to return. No matter where else I have been, I think Belfast will likely always be my favorite place to go. I’d love to move back there some day.For now, however, life keeps me here and I will have to make do as I always have, with frequent visits.
The city never ceases to charm me. Belfast is a very old place, and it has come through its changes gloriously—not always peacefully, but with perseverance. Within her boundries, you can find a 5,000 year old henge, a 12th century castle, 150 year old shipbuilders, and even more modern businessesdealing with things like aerospace.She is a complex blend of the ancient and the modern, a wonder of nature and of the ingenuity of man. To me, there’s nowhere else like it in the world, and I’m a travel agent—if I haven’t been there, I’ve likely had to research it as an option for a client.
While it’s true that Belfast suffered significant damage to its people, reputation, and the city itself during The Troubles, the Good Friday Agreement brought about a crucial change. While the past will never be forgotten, a new mentality has emerged. Belfast has been able to rebuild and redefine itself as a desirable place to live, work, and visit. With a rapidly growing economy and its appealing job market, the stability in the area has breathed new life into its once tumultuous streets, and Belfast is finally winning the tourist trade back over.
And why shouldn’t it? Belfast is a gem of a place. Gorgeous coastlines, scenic mountains and valleys, picturesque castles, historical murals, and modern-day allure: what’s not to love?