Built in the grand Classical Renaissance style, with an Italian marble interior, this excellent museum crams in 9,000 years of Irish history with exhibits on art, furniture, ceramics, costume, industrial heritage, and a permanent display of products "Made in Belfast." One of the best-known exhibits is the collection of gold and silver jewelry recovered by divers in 1968 off the Antrim coast from the 1588 wreckage of the Armada treasure ship Girona. Check out the "Early Ireland" gallery, which has an extensive, cleverly displayed collection of prehistoric artifacts of stone and bronze from Northern Ireland's many ancient archaeological sites. There's also an exceptional collection of historic fine arts, including Belleek pottery; a vast assemblage of Irish silver; and formal costume.
Red Hand of Ulster -- Around Belfast, and all of Northern Ireland, you'll frequently come across representations of a red hand. It's carved in door frames, painted on walls and ceilings, and even planted in red flowers in gardens. Known as the Red Hand of Ulster, it is one of the symbols of the region. According to one version of the old tale, the hand can trace its history from a battle between two men competing to be king of Ulster. They held a race (some say by boat, others say it took place on horseback) and agreed that the first man to touch Ulster soil would win. As one man fell behind, he pulled his sword and cut off his right hand, then with his left, flung the bloody hand ahead of his competitor, winning the right to rule.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Highly Recommended 2010
- visit website
- tel: +44 28 9038 3000
- fax: +44 28 9038 3003
- Stranmillis Road
- Signposted from M1/M2 (Balmoral exit); next to the Botanic Gardens, Stranmillis Rd
- Belfast, County Antrim BT9 5AB
- Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat 1-5pm; Sun 2-5pm
- No Sweat
- User Rating