The Northern Ireland capital of Belfast is a vibrant, cultured city blossoming despite the shade of it’s bloody and violent history. JANET QUINLIVAN tells us 13 creepy facts you may not know about her home city of Belfast.
- Strand Cinema in East Belfast is the Only Art Deco cinema left from the Era. It was built in 1935 with just one screen and seating for just over 1000. The cinema is still in use today and is said to be very haunted.
- The Titanic took 5000 people to build, 264 people were injured and 6 died during its construction. Of the 899 crew members on board, 22 were from Belfast only 5 survived the tragedy.
- McHughs bar is not only the oldest bar in Belfast but the oldest Building. It was built in 1710 and has seen everything from Victorian Dock strikes to the Troubles.
- The last person to be hung in Belfast was Robert McGladdery, he murdered a young girl called Pearl Gamble. She had been out with her friends and boyfriend to a local Orange Hall dance in Newry. She was beaten and strangled and the others at the dance claimed that Robert was seen dancing with her wearing a light-coloured suit, yet Robert claimed he was wearing a dark suit. The policed watched him and seen him heading towards a hedge near his home. When they checked it out they discovered a light suit covered in blood hidden in a septic tank. Subsequently he was arrested and sentenced to death, he was hung in Crumlin Road Gaol in December 1961.
- The Lucifer Match factory was situated in Millfield Place in Belfast. In 1882 a spark hit a rack of matches that were drying which caused a huge fire. Four children were trapped and died. The factory was rebuilt with the name ‘Lucifer’ left out, when in operation again the locals and staff claimed to be able to hear screaming children at night. This continued until the buildings demolition.
- In the centre of the University Quarter there is a graveyard that dates to the 5th century. It’s known as Friars Bush grave yard, there is a tunnel nearby that links some of the Queen university buildings. It’s said that apparitions are often seen in the graveyard itself, and a university staff member claimed to have been touched by ghostly hands while using the tunnel.
- HMS Caroline was launched in 1914 as a battle ship for the First world war. It’s the only surviving ship from the battle of Jutland and one of only three surviving ships from world war one. It has been fully refurbished to how it would have looked the day it left the docks and is visited by many tourists and Northern Irish people.
- Grave robbing in the 19th Century wasn’t just something done by Burke and Hare (you know these two were from Northern Ireland, right?) it was also common in Belfast. Many bodies were stolen and shipped from Clifton Street cemetery to London, Dublin and Scotland.
- The Europa Hotel is the most bombed hotel in the world having suffered 36 attacks during the troubles. Belfast city alone had 1521 murders between 1969 and 1994.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) was directed by Belfast born Sir Kenneth Branagh.
- Belfast Castle was burned down, the Original was built in the late 12th century by the Normans and was in the city centre as we know it today. The building burned down in 1708 and the family in residence decided to rebuild in Cavehill around 1811.
- It’s said that Jonathan Swift took his influence for Gulliver’s travels from Cavehill. While living in Belfast, he stated that Cavehill looked like the form of a sleeping giant.
Number 8 is a corker – imagine exporting dead bodies!