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  • Writer's pictureBlake

On Hyndford Street - The Van Morrison Belfast Walking Trail

I was in Northern Ireland a few weeks ago with the family and I took the opportunity to do the Van Morrison East Belfast walking tour. I highly recommend it to any Van fans. This is a link to the tour:

It starts at Van's primary school, Elmgrove. It's a circular route so you just need to find some on-street parking nearby. Just down the road is his childhood playground, 'The Hollow', made famous in 'Brown Eyed Girl'. It's a beautiful place even now and when we were there children were playing with fishing nets in the water.

In 'On Hyndford Street', Morrison sings of "meeting down by the pylons". The small stone bridge you see is one of the oldest in Ireland and crosses over the source of the Beechie River.

You leave the Hollow behind and after a few rows of terraced houses find yourself in Hyndford Street, where Van was born at number 125, distinguished from its neighbours by a brass plaque.

Following the trail from Hyndford Street to Orangefield Park we find another place where Van and his friends used to play when they were younger; this time commemorated in the song 'Orangefield' from Avalon Sunset. Van attended Orangefield Boys School util 1960.

Spot the musician

The route leads you over the old Belfast and County Down railway line which is now a public walkway. Bloomfield Railway Station is no longer there. In 'Cyprus Avenue', Van sings,

Love to hear that evening train go by

Love to hear that evening train go by

‘Specially when my baby’s on my mind

Backing on to the line is Cyprus Avenue itself. One can imagine that this wide, leafy street with its huge houses must have seemed like utopia to the boy from the two up two down less than a mile away.

Leaving Cyprus Avenue (which I walked down with the song playing on my phone - tacky but essential, really) you turn left onto the Beersbridge Road. Here you can see St. Donard's church, where Van's mum and dad were married, the chip shop featured in 'A Sense of Wonder' (now a Chinese takeaway) and a view of the Harland and Wolff cranes (Samson and Goliath) where Van's dad used to work as an electrician. (He also had a huge collection of blues and jazz records which Van listened to from an early age.)

I made my wife endure the tour with me and she took the majority of these pics (which is why she isn't in any of them). It's probably best undertaken with another Van the Man fan, to be honest, which I still am, despite having nearly finished reading my second biography of him!

"I never ever said that I was a nice guy." Van Morrison. 1994

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