Port of Belfast handles two thirds of the ferry trade in Northern Ireland and a quarter of the ferry trade for the whole of Ireland. Over 9,000 vessels pass through Belfast every year, carrying two million passengers, 400,000 vehicles and half a million units of freight, making it the busiest port in Ireland. A major centre of industry and commerce, Belfast has also become established as the focus of the logistics activity for Northern Ireland. The Port of Belfast handles over 60 per cent of Northern Ireland s sea borne trade.
Belfast History. James 1, in 1613, incorporated the town of Belfast as a borough, establishing a quay where the Rivers Lagan and Fearset meet. By 1663 there were 29 vessels owned in the town. Trade and quay size continued to expand throughout the 17th century. By the early 18th century Belfast had replaced Carrickfergus as the most important port in Ulster and additional expansion was required. In 1785 the Irish Parliament passed an act to deal with the town s up-and-coming port and established a new body, The Corporation for Preserving and Improving the Port and Harbour of Belfast, the Ballast Board . The port remained disadvantaged by the natural restrictions of shallow water, bends in the channel approach and inadequate quays. This, together with an increasing level of trade, led to a new government act of 1837, which gave powers to the reconstituted board to improve the port through the formation of a new channel. The work commenced in 1839 and by 1841 the first bend had been eliminated. The creation of what was to become the Victoria Channel had begun. In 1847 the Belfast Harbour Act repealed previous acts and led to the formation of the Belfast Harbour Commissioners that, with much wider powers, completed the second stage of the new channel two years later.
Belfast Attractions. Belfast has a rich mix of cultural heritage and new attractions. Visit the Belfast Welcome Centre, located at Donegal Place in the City Centre s main shopping precinct, to plan your tour of the city. The City Hall is a fine example of Classical Renaissance style and offers free tours. Other attractions include St Anne s Cathedral, designed in Hiberno-Romanesque style, the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum s carefully recreated Old Town and The Ulster Museum with its award-winning Early Ireland gallery and outstanding Made in Belfast exhibits. Meanwhile, Fernhill House tells the story of Belfast s Shankill district. Stroll through the Victorian streets of Belfast on a walking tour that includes The Old Town, Titanic Trail, Blackstaff Way tours and the City Centre Walk. The Odyssey Complex is great for kids and is home to W5 Interactive Discovery Centre, the IMAX Cinema, Hard Rock Café and the Odyssey Arena home of the Belfast Giants Ice Hockey Team. Belfast Zoo, built into towering Cave Hill, offers a selection of exotic animals, while a more hands-on experience is available at Streamvale Open Farm. Visit Grand Opera House and the Lyric Theatre for the best of local theatre and drama. Belfast also offers an array of festivals throughout the year.
Belfast Shopping and Dinning. Belfast s central shopping area runs from Donegal Place to Royal Avenue, taking in St George s Market (the oldest covered market and largest indoor fish market in Ireland) and the Lisburn Road in the south of the city, with a selection of chic designer boutiques and cafes. Belfast has many famous and historic pubs and a huge selection of restaurants from Michelin Star eateries to cosy brasseries and establishments serving traditional Irish food.
Belfast Access. Belfast can be accessed from the M3. Follow the signs for Docks, York Street, then the Port of Belfast. From the M2, follow the signs for Docks, through the Broadway Roundabout and onto the Westlink. Then follow gantry signs marked M2 Docks, Airports, and The North until you see a Port of Belfast sign.