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16 October 2014
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point eight: writers' square

The former Northern Bank at the Four Corners

Poetry, pints and pokes

This open space is a key element in the Cathedral quarter’s reinvention as a centre for the arts and, when skateboarders aren’t rattling over the quotations about Belfast by famous writers inscribed underfoot, it’s a venue for street performers and arts festival events.

Listen to an audio guide to this section of the walk

One famous poet is also commemorated in a pub across Donegall Street and a little down to the right.

The John Hewitt is run by the Belfast Unemployed Centre and hosts regular music sessions, art exhibitions and events.

Directly opposite the square is St Anne’s Cathedral. It is built mainly of Portland stone but a stone from every county in Ireland was used in its construction.

Work on the cathedral took more than 80 years and seven architects to complete.

A special act of Parliament allowed Lord Carson, leading opponent of Home Rule for Ireland and prosecutor of Oscar Wilde, to be buried in its south aisle.

The streets behind the cathedral were once part of the city’s Sailortown docks area and were known as the Half Bap for unclear reasons.

Most of Sailortown was swept away for redevelopment but some of the character can still be glimpsed in the streets of the Half Bap.

This area was also once home to the city’s Italian community which brought with it the delights of fish and chips and ice-cream pokes and sliders.

Many of the Italians in the city had originally arrived to carve and erect the marble in places like the city hall. Some of the city’s places of worship, most notably Clonard Monastery on the Falls Road, benefited from their skills with marble.

Further along Donegall Street, past the traffic lights, is St Patrick’s church, the second Catholic church built in the city and, like St Mary’s, financially supported by Protestant well-wishers.

The sculpture of the patron saint of Ireland which adorns the outside of the church is said to have been sculpted by the English father of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Back to Belfast Walk: No Mean City

  The Walk

Map of Belfast Belfast City Hall Cornmarket
intro part 1 part 2

St Georges
Donegal Quay
Queen's Bridge
PART 3 part 4 part 5

Customs House
Four Corners
Writer's Square
part 6 part 7 part 8

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