May 27, 2011


The Vikings were conquerers largely because of their ships. Whether it's the Viking influence or something else, Belfast has been building for a long time. Even before the Vikings, however, the Irish were boat builders. They may not have had longboats, but they may have built a vessel that actually sailed all the way to America in the 6th century!

Belfast's location makes the city a major port for trade. You might remember that the Titanic was built in Belfast. As the Irish like to say, "She was fine when she left here!"

When Tom and I were in Ireland, we were invited to a two-man play titled The Boat Factory. It's about a young man's experience post WWII working on the shipbuilding docks. While we didn't always understand the jokes or the accent of the actors, we did enjoy this unique Irish experience. Shipbuilding has been a critical part of life in Belfast for a very long time.

My ancestors, the Littles, sailed from Belfast in 1771. They lived somewhere near Downpatrick, which today is about a 45-minute drive. The Littles were not shipbuilders but they did board a ship that could have been Irish built. I've been trying to figure out just what the docks looked like in 1771. Not much luck so far. If you have any resources for me, please share!

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