Nowadays, when mentioning the history of the Shankill Road many people automatically think back to the feud between the Ulster Volunteer Force and the Ulster Defence Association, however there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Though nowadays, Shankill Road is celebrated for its exquisite shopping centre and pleasant residential areas it would be right in saying that it wasn’t always like this.
Despite the mill houses, which made up Shankill Road in the 19th century, being far better than the previous rural homes, the living conditions at the time were way below the standard of living that we have today. During this time many of the homes were completely derelict and many more of them squalid. Sometimes these homes remained uninhabitable for 15 years due to the severely poor living conditions.
In some instances, poorly paid wages resulted in a number of families having to live cramped in one house; sometimes as many as 3 families at a time. This was the case in Shankill; many lived in these appalling conditions to escape the perils of war and a dwindling number of resources.
As the years have gone on, Shankill has been built up and has developed on a massive scale, providing residents with more comfortable lives and their own homes.
Shankill Road is also home to the famous Shankill graveyard which, until 1869, remained as Belfast’s main burial ground with graves dating back to the early 1600s. Rich in historical value, this graveyard was also home to a rather intriguing object.
In 1855, a stone was found in the graveyard that was thought to date way back to druidic times and has been thought to be used in various Celtic sacrifices and rituals. The stone also holds the purpose of being used as a baptism font and it is rumoured throughout Ireland that the stone has the ability to cure warts.
Shankill graveyard is a touching sentiment that holds residence to the wabbit souls of the lost and is regarded as one of Ireland’s top places to visit on all Belfast tours throughout the island.
If you’d like to find out more about the poignant history of those who once inhabited the streets of Shankill road, get in touch and inquire about a Belfast tour today.