West Belfast’s Falls Road was a violent flashpoint during the Northern Irish conflict. Falls Road is in a predominantly Catholic nationalist neighborhood that borders Shankill Road, a mostly Protestant unionist area. The two areas are now separated by a peace wall that is adorned with hundreds of colorful politically themed murals.
The Falls Road murals are a must for travelers who want to gain a deeper understanding of the Northern Irish conflict, known as the “Troubles.” Hop-on hop-off bus tours of Belfast ride along the stretch of murals, allowing passengers to disembark to view these evocative, large-scale images.
Many of the murals have political themes, including one depicting Bobby Sands, the Republican prisoner who died while on hunger strike in 1981. Informative Black Cab tours of the area can help visitors understand the motifs and symbolic meanings behind the Falls Road murals. These can be combined with Northern Ireland highlights tours, which typically visit scenic sights outside the city, such as the Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Falls Road murals are a must for anyone with an interest in Northern Irish history, and the changing city of Belfast.
- Wear comfortable shoes as you’ll spend most of your time exploring on foot.
- Bring an umbrella or a waterproof outer layer as there is little shelter on the Falls Road.
How to Get There
Falls Road is situated in West Belfast, a 5–10 minute drive from the city center. Translink metro bus routes 10a, 10b, 10h, and 10j all depart from Castle Street in central Belfast and stop along the Falls Road. Most hop-on hop-off bus tours of the city also stop at the Falls Road murals.
When to Get There
The Falls Road is a busy city street. It is rarely crowded with tourists, but it does see quite a lot of vehicular traffic. Go during daylight hours for the best views of the colorful murals, and keep out of the way of cars.
The Peace Walls of Belfast
Erected in parts of Belfast and other Northern Irish cities during the height of the Troubles, the Northern Irish peace walls were erected to help prevent outbursts of violence between divided communities. Though they were originally designed to be temporary, many of Belfast’s peace walls remain, including the one that runs along Cupar Way between the Falls Road and Shankill Road. This wall is punctuated by gates, which typically remain open during the day, allowing visitors and locals to pass freely between both sides of the divide.