Former prison turned tourist attraction launches Troubles tour

By Rebecca Black, Press Association

A former prison turned tourist attraction in Belfast has launched a new Troubles themed tour.

The Crumlin Road Gaol once housed scores of political prisoners up to its closure in 1996 before re-opening its imposing Victorian doors as a tourist attraction in 2012.

Crumlin Road Gaol Troubles Tour
The Gaol Circle showing B wing and C wing of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast which is part of a new Troubles themed tour (Liam McBurney/PA)

On Wednesday it launched a new tour based on the history of the Troubles.

The four-and-a-half hour experience aims to give visitors an insight into the conflict and tell the disputed story from all sides.

It will take visitors through some of Belfast’s most divided communities, including the Shankill and Falls, to hear from former prisoners on both sides.

Crumlin Road Gaol Troubles Tour
A man walks past a mural on the Shankill Road remembering those victims who died in the Protestant community during the Troubles which is part of a new Troubles themed tour (Liam McBurney/PA)

The tour concludes at the jail and includes a bowl of stew and a pint of Guinness at Cuffs Bar & Grill before beginning the last leg of the tour through the prison to hear the stories of the security forces.

It includes a close-up look at one of the last Wessex helicopters in Northern Ireland.

Crumlin Road Gaol Troubles Tour
Coiste tour guide Peadar Whelan in C wing of Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast which is part of a new Troubles themed tour (Liam McBurney/PA)

Once a common sight in the skies above the region as the “workhorse” of the British armed forces transporting troops and VIP visitors, the helicopter was given to the jail by the RAF earlier this year.

Phelim Devlin, director at Crumlin Road Gaol, said: “The Troubles Tour will cover all aspects of the more recent history here at Crumlin Road Gaol and in the local area including the insights from security services, loyalist and republican communities.

Crumlin Road Gaol Troubles Tour
Tourists are shown Belfast’s Peace Wall on Cuper Way which is a barrier that separates predominantly Republican and Nationalist Catholic neighbourhoods from predominantly Loyalist and Unionist Protestant neighbourhoods (Liam McBurney/PA)

“This tour will provide an enhanced visitor experience at our five star visitor attraction in addition to contributing and enriching the growing tourism industry here in Belfast.”

The tour is recommended for those aged 15 and over and costs £35.

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