EastSide Voices Conflict Tour 

Choose a Date

  Available     Full     Unavailable
EastSide Voices Conflict Tours - Meeting Point - 2 Bryson St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom

Meeting at Bryson Street we will proceed into the Nationalist Short Strand where you will get an authentic overview of the political and social makeup of the area. The tour narrates the diverse history of local residents who fought during the First World War,  the struggle for independence,  partition and those who lost their lives in the more recent conflict from 1969 until the Peace Process of 1998. The tour also remembers local residents who fought in the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Spanish Civil War. Learn about the Battle of St. Matthew’s – visit the Short Strand Republican Memorial Garden and experience the reality of the Peace Walls which separate the Short Strand from surrounding loyalist areas. The concept of this walking tours is aimed at bringing an authentic community dimension to tourism; it will allow you, as a visitor to not only experience and learn about our communities, but also for that short duration feel part of Belfast within that environment. 

There is a need for local narratives that can create an authentic experience and allows communities to become the stakeholder within the industry.

Community history shapes and influences many aspects of Belfast thinking and can greatly add to the cultural and creative vibe. 


Stop 1: Church Grounds

Here the first church was built in 1830-[0pening in March 1831] close to what became Chapel Lane. A new church was built in 1872 as the parish grew and developed. Walking around the grounds, we will see a small memorial garden. Due to its geographical location, the church has been to the forefront of sectarian violence dating back to 1886. Walking through the grounds around to the front doors, we will discuss the history regarding the 1920-1922 period of conflict and the 27th June 1970 known locally as The Battle of St Matthews, here you will see a small lead cross outside the front door commemorating Mary Mc Cabe killed in 1922.


Stop 2: Bryson Street Peace Walls

The “Peace Wall” that separates both communities reminds us of the stark reality of the division that existed as a result of the conflict and the measures that were taken to keep these communities apart.

The main Bryson Street pre 1970, was very much” mixed” with both communities residing alongside each other. This normal and peaceful co-existence was shattered in a 24 hour period over the 12th/13th August 1971, when residents were forced to flee their homes and the street was deliberately allowed to die as a social identity, in favour of a political/military buffer zone.

Beechfield Street and Madrid Street were completely partitioned and sealed by the wall. Thankfully, the original side of Beechfield Street on the Nationalist side still remains and the former primary school building on the Unionist side is still in situ. The school was occupied by the British Army at the end of June 1970.


Stop 3: Clandeboye Estate

The Clandeboye estate was the centre point of 12 months of sustained violence during the period 2002/2003.  Despite being in an era of relative peace it came close to derailing the peace strategy developed in the wake of the conflict.


Stop 4:  Mountpottinger Road

At the corner of Clandeboye and Mountpottinger, once stood the old Picturedrome cinema. These picture houses were a hub of entertainment in older times and established in communities throughout the city.

A cinema was first built on this site and opened in March 1911.

The pillared building with a dome was designed by Liverpool architects, Campbell and Fairhurst and seated 1000 people. It was destroyed in a fire and replaced by a new cinema designed by John Mc Bride Neill in 1934.

The new Picturedrome seated 1,100 people in stalls and balcony seating and a foyer ran the full width of the cinema.


Stop 5: Mountpottinger Barracks

Here once stood Mountpottinger Barracks until its demolition in January 2011.   This contentious building was a focal point of conflict.

Originally an RIC barrack, it was heavily fortified during the conflict and was attacked on numerous occasions by the local IRA. The British Army was based there on a permanent basis between 1970 and 1974. Throughout the years, protests were held outside the barrack in relation to raids, arrests and collusion between state forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.


Stop 6:  Republican Memorial Garden 

The Garden rooted in the heart of the community reflects in itself the concept of Community Struggle.  Images of young men killed adorn the wall spanning a century of struggle. The diversity of conflict dates back to rebellion of 1916, through the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) and into the recent struggle.


Once we reach this point we will return to Bryson Street, from there will be a handover from the Nationalist Short Strand - Ballymacarrett Tourism and Heritage Initiative to our partner guides of the Loyalist Conflict Museum: Andy Tyrie Interpretive Centre. 

From here our walking tour takes you across six locations through the streets of working class inner East Belfast. From Bryson Street we will take you along the Newtownards Road on a journey of religious and political upheaval. During the 1970s death stalked these streets as a conflict began between the Unionist/Loyalist and Republican/Nationalist communities, a conflict that would last for 30 years. Let us show you a series of key locations significant to the history of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).


Stop 7: Neill McCurrie Memorial Garden

Where it all began, 27th June 1970 – The Troubles arrive in East Belfast, bringing death to the streets.


Stop 8: Freedom Corner

The popular landmark of Freedom Corner and Young Newton Remembrance Garden – Political murals and their messages dispelling the myths.


Stop 9: Newcastle Street/St.Leonards Crescent

The streets where British soldiers killed Andrew Petherbridge on 7th February 1973, aged just 18.  A year later - on 17th February 1974, Gary Reid and Kirk Watters - both just 17 years of age.


Stop 10: Dee Street Memorial Garden

From walled mural to permanent structure – a place for reflection.


Stop 11: Hornby Street

Scenes of carnage as an Army Saracen kills John Clarke on 16th October 1972, by crashing into a house a pinning him to a wall. The same Army Saracen is believed to have killed a young William ‘Billy’ Warnock, aged 15, the very same day.


Stop 12: Ruperta House/Gawn Street

Original headquarters of the East Belfast Ulster Defence Association – From housing full-time staff to arms raids


Once we have completed our walking tour we will proceed to the Loyalist Conflict Museum: Andy Tyrie Interpretive Centre, here visitors will have the opportunity to learn the story of the UDA, the reason behind its formation and its role within the community. In the Museum you can handle authentic objects relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland, as well as those associated with the organisation’s movement into politics and community development as part of the organisations transitional journey.

Inside the museum we will take you through four key phases in the conflict:

  • The early 70's – Our community is left defenceless. The need to defend our people and our homes is imperative.
  • The mid 80’s – Political & civil resistance to British Government duplicity and Irish interference.
  • The 90’s – Taking the war to the terrorists, politics is abandoned. It’s time to terrorise the terrorists.
  • The 00’s – Organisation stands down its military wing - The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), weapons are put beyond use (decommissioned).

Throughout the majority of its period of legality, the UDA's attacks were carried out under the name "Ulster Freedom Fighters" (UFF). The UDA's campaign of violence began in 1972. In May of that year, the UDA's pressured leader Tommy Herron decided that responsibility for acts of violence committed by the UDA would be claimed by the "UFF". Its first public statements came one month later.

The UDA's official position during the Troubles was that if the Provisional Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) called off its campaign of violence, then it would do the same. However, if the British government announced that it was withdrawing from Northern Ireland, then the UDA would act as "the IRA in reverse."


Collecting at Loyalist Conflict Museum: Andy tyrie Interpretive Centre (361 Newtownards Road).

Meeting at Bryson Street (2 Bryson Street).

Please come dressed appropriately for the season but keep in mind, the weather in Belfast can be cold at any time of the year.

  • Warm clothing
  • Comfortable shoes
  • The EastSide Voices Conflict Tours must be booked a minimum of 13 hours in advance and a confirmation of booking will be sent to you.
  • You must bring a print out of your ticket/voucher and identification.
  • A minimum of 5 people are required when booking.
  • Children under 5 years of age have free entrance to museums and tours.
  • All young people under the age of 17 years must be accompanied with an adult.
  • For cancellation up to 48 hours prior to departure date: 10% administration fee will be imposed
  • For cancellation less than 48 hours prior to departure date or 'no-show': 100% of the total amount will be charged
EastSide Voices Conflict Tours - Meeting Point
2 Bryson St, Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom