Fifth Stop – Belfast


The Entrance to the Linnen Hall Library, 17 Donegall Square N, Belfast.

My first stop in the UK was Belfast, I was here to visit my eldest granddaughter, and after being made to feel very welcome in her home, I made my first solo foray into the city. The homepage of the Linnen Hall Library will tell you it is the oldest library in Belfast but that they are much more than that. Apparently, since 1788, they have been opening minds in the city and beyond, promoting the pursuit of knowledge and preserving world-renowned collections for visitors. If I was looking for a ‘Visitor’s Centre’ I had fallen on my feet here, as it is one of Ireland’s most unique and historic institutions, a treasure trove with a wealth of cultural and social history, not only a passive archive, but proactively ‘promoting knowledge’ via frequent exhibitions, tours, performances, book signings, and Irish language classes. I don’t think that is an exhaustive list either!

I had been attracted by the guided walking tours of the city advertised for the first few days I would be there, and althoug I had often visited Belfast before when coming to see family, those visits were taken up with a different sort of activity, very child focussed, so I knew very little about the city’s history. Now my oldest granddaughter was at work during the day and the others had moved away so I was at liberty to explore. Furthermore, if I signed up for one tour I would get a second one at a discount – even better. However I had not been able to complete the transaction while I was in Spain due to a glitch on the web page, so I popped in to the Library in person on my first free day to be sure I was booked on the tours.

While there I discovered the cafe, the library itself is a gem, right in the centre of the city but an oasis of studious calm. I found a vacant desk and worked on this blog for a while before adjourning to for a light lunch. It was lucky I had moved through early, as the tables soon filled up, with a queue forming at the door. This venue is clearly popular with the locals.

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