On the night of August 14th 1969, the skies above north and West Belfast were ablaze.
The flames marked the ignition of the Troubles, the arrival in Belfast of the British Army and the emergence of the Provisional IRA.
At the heart of these seismic historical events, however, lay human tragedy, as whole communities were forced to become refugees within their own city.
Ardoyne-born Hugh McKeown was one of many who rushed to help evacuate its victims; his Brookfield Street family was among them. Hugh was not only a participant and a witness, however. He became an invaluable chronicler of the event, as this extraordinary collection of images shows.
Hugh (a civil servant) was an amateur photographer but his pictures are evidence of talent, vision and an instinct for composition.
Hugh had an eye for the isolated detail which spoke volumes about the wider picture, so a bullet hole torn in a wall, or the wheel arch of a burned bus become symbols of the broader reality.
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Our work in Sandy Row is almost complete. Please stay tuned for a selection of oral histories and photographs from this historic Belfast community.
Welcome to the newly designed Belfast Archive (BAP) website! Throughout the next few months, the BAP will be presenting a collection of archives from Belfast’s renowned local photographers and a selection of oral histories from two of Belfast’s most unique working-class communities, Sandy Row and the Short Strand. These two communities are on the verge of re-development. Our larger oral history project has been funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.