Belfast (Irish Gaelic B al F irste ) means the mouth of the river Farset. The settlement grew up at the confluence of the Farset and the Lagan. The River Farset was a smaller, less significant river than the Lagan, which was the main waterway through Belfast. If you want to see the Farset today you would have to dig up Bridge Street and Donegal Street which were built over the by then redundant waterway.
An alternative meaning for the name is mouth or approach to the sandbank ford. This relates to sand banks and silt, which formed at the mouth of the rivers making it easier to cross and ford the river at this point. Many of these silt deposits were reclaimed for industrial use in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
As both names indicate the most important aspect of Belfast was the rivers and the fact that they could be forded. This is essential due to the location of Belfast. To the west there is a steep escarpment rising up to the Antrim Plateau, the massive basalt level heights that dominate county Antrim. To the East extends the vast sea inlet known as Belfast Lough. So thereforeContinued page 3/27