DC Tours was established in 2013. Our goal is to enable our guests to learn as much about the Troubles in Northern Ireland as possible in the time available.
There are a number of competing stories told in the tours of our city; on the one hand is the ‘official line’ taken by many tour providers, who are selective as to what they include in their tour and where they visit in order to represent a post-conflict city and the message that the Troubles have ended, and on the other hand, the ‘Political Tours’ which focus on the murals and peaceline in inner city west Belfast. Delivered by tour guides who for the most part grew up in these communities, these tours tend to be more subjective and reflect either a republican or loyalist narrative, brought to life through the personal experiences of the guide, and leaving the tourist to decide which version of events to accept.
We aim to bridge the gap between these two narratives, delivering a tour that marries the neutrality of our city centre spaces with the legacy of the conflict in our segregated inner city communities. We believe this allows us to explain the conflicted history of our city and how it continues to affect our daily lives and aspirations for the future as objectively as possible.
Tour Guide No.1
Paul Donnelly is DC Tours lead tour guide. A qualified teacher, mediator and international tour guide, he has delivered DC Tours programme for 4 years alongside Mark Wylie. In his time with DC Tours Paul has won a number of prestigious awards including Tour of the Year in Belfast from the Luxury Travel Guide.
Paul worked for 20 years in adult and community education in Belfast’s interface/ peaceline communities. He designed and delivered both accredited and non-accredited courses in Irish History, Culture & Identity and Conflict Resolution. He has also been the University of Ulster’s co-ordinator for their extra-mural Community Relations course, designing and delivering a curriculum around historical relationships, conflict manifestations and community & political responses.
In the 2000’s Paul acted as co-ordinator & facilitator in interface peace-building and conflict transformation projects in inner east and inner south Belfast. He was also a key facilitator in face-to-face dialogue projects with former loyalist and republican ex-combatants and ex-prisoners. He delivered history and discussion programmes to Victims & Survivors Groups, – comprising people directly physically and mentally impacted upon by the events of our conflict.
As a Belfast native and resident growing up in the ‘Troubles’ since 1968, and the parent of two children being raised in post conflict Belfast he is immensely proud of the city.
“I always emphasise to our visitors and groups that our work and tours are not simply about factual awareness. It is about empathy and understanding, – getting a real feel for the fabric of life in a divided and volatile city in the seventies and eighties. It is about how we lived, adapted and endured. It is a story of hope and progress against despair and stagnation.”