Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland. Standing on the banks of the River Lagan, it is the largest city in Northern Ireland. As the second largest city on the island, Belfast became the northern capital after partition in 1922.
The name Belfast derives from the Irish Béal Feirste, meaning “river mouth at the sandbar”. The sandbar in question refers to a tidal ford formed by the merging of the River Lagan with the River Farset. It was around this sandbar, the original town grew. The River Farset flows beneath the city covered over by modern streets.
An Industrial Powerhouse
In the 1800s, the town was a major port and played a key role in the Industrial Revolution/ It became the largest producer of linen in the world, earning the nickname ‘Linenopolis’ and city status in 1888.
As well as Irish linen, it was an industrial centre for tobacco processing, rope-making, and shipbuilding. When Harland and Wolff shipyard built RMS Titanic, the yard was the largest and most productive in the world. With the outbreak of World War Two, these industries made Belfast a valuable city to the Allies but also a vulnerable target to Luftwaffe attacks.
Belfast in World War Two
The city became a hub of activity between 1939 and 1945. Over 300,000 American troops landed at the docks in 1943 and 1943. The Luftwaffe attacked the city in 1941, killing almost 1,000 people.