A small but entertaining roadside crag in the heart of Belfast. Nicknamed the "Músaem Uladh" (or "Ulster Museum") from a mispronunciation of the old Irish name of the crag "Muisiriún Uladh", whose literal translation is "The Gem of Ulster".
Its western buttress is a curious projection of neo-classical portland limestone, formed quite some time ago in the Jurassic. Steep and uncompromising, it was chipped by James Cumming Wynne in his frustration between 1912 and 1929. Still it would not submit, and indeed saw little activity until its first recorded ascent in 2011.
In its eastern buttress lies the Brutal concrete roofs that saw some attention by Francis Pym in the 1960s. However they were never freed and even now remain futuristic. One cannot but be struck by the "almost barbaric power of its great cubic projections and cantilevers brooding over the conifers of the botanic gardens like a mastodon". Even Viscount Stanley Owen Buckmaster described the climbing here as being "unspeakably ghastly and totally incongruous".
Despite its roadside nature access to the crag can sometimes be difficult. The crag now resides in land owned by the Botanic Gardens of Belfast who lock the gates when it gets dark, which is precisely the time that conditions normally become most favourable. However the gatekeepers are usually happy to let you climb at night as along as you have had a few pints and do not wake the plants or disturb them in any way.
Night at the Museum ** 17m E1 4c, 5b, 3c S. Gruber, H. Gruber (Alt. leads) April 2011
An enjoyable reasonably protected route on the north face taking in some of Wynne's more curious limestone chippings.
1) 5m Start beneath the left pillar on the protruding face and ascend the wall to reach the statue. 2) 9m Ascend the wall on the left directly or chimney up between the pillar. Arrange gear and move left and up over the often slimy roof (crux). Belay at the Sphinx. 3) 3m Continue easily to the top. Abseil from here or the Sphinx.