Shankill, derived from the Irish word for “Old Church,” is a predominantly loyalist working-class area of West Belfast. It’s known as “Original Belfast” and dates back to 455 A.D., while being known for its role as a central hub for many loyalist paramilitary organizations during the time of "The Troubles."
Shankill Road, the main artery of the neighborhood, is one of the oldest settlements in Belfast and dates back to the Stone Age. The area came to prominence in the late 19th century as a center of Belfast’s linen industry. The Shankill Road Peace Walls are adorned with unionist symbols, such as Union Jacks and murals of the British Royal Family, which are key draws for tourists. The murals here are political, historical and community focused. Art on the gable walls depicts scenes as one of volunteers who died as a result of the area’s conflicts.
Despite being one of the oldest settlements in Belfast, there are very few archaeological sites in Shankill that have survived modern development. There is a ringed fort in Glencairn Park, which dates back to the Bronze Age and would have contained protected dwellings. There are four forts in the Shankill area, but Glencairn is the easiest to visit.
You can get to Shankill on the 11th corridor of the Translink Metro public transportation system. You can also take a black taxi tour of the area or visit via one of the open-air hop-on hop-off tour bus services that run through Belfast. If you plan to shop in Shankill, most shops are open Monday through Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.