Bombay Street - Taken from the Ashes

Published Monday, 29 June 2009
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Unique black and white photographs of the burning of Bombay Street in west Belfast are shown to the public for the first time at Belfast's Red Barn Gallery.

Forty years ago, the Catholic street was burned out by loyalists, while the RUC withdrew, leaving the situation to the British Army.

When the army finally entered the area, one soldier described the sight that greeted them as "resembling a scene from WWII".

It was this scene that local man Gerry Collins captured on camera, as firefighters were still dousing smouldering homes.

Collins, a keen amateur photographer, secured the only known visual record of the event.

The Red Barn Gallery's director, Frankie Quinn said: "Forty years after the Bombay St incident I was presented with a box containing 50 stunning images, which had never been seen in public before.

"These images are the only existing record of that fateful night, and they provide a forceful, eloquent and historically significant first-hand view of its impact.

"Gerry has decided to reveal this amazing set of images to coincide with the 40th anniversary of this momentous event in local history. He's bringing the past to the present, for the benefit of the future."

The events are widely viewed as an historic turning point, after which many young Catholic men joined the ranks of the provisional IRA.

"We hope that the exhibition will create the conditions for discussion about the consequences of the failure of dialogue and its long term effects on all of us", Frankie Quinn said.

"Gerry's incredible images have brought back some very sad, and some happy memories for people who were there, and have provided those of us who weren't with a very powerful sense of the time. They are a compelling testimony to the impact of intolerance", he added.

Visitors' comments have remarked on "an epitaph to hatred" and to a street "murdered by hatred", as well as expressing "a pride in survival" and the hope that such devastating scenes will "never be seen again".

Bombay St. - Taken from the Ashes is on show at the Red Barn Gallery, 43b Rosemary Street, Belfast until 26 July 2009. After its Red Barn premiere, the exhibition goes on to the West Belfast Festival.

Opening hours are Monday - Saturday 10am - 5pm, with late night opening until 9pm on Thursdays. Entrance is free.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Marie Guzy in Texas, USA wrote (1,741 days ago):
I grew up in Belfast at a time when hatred and bitterness was passed down in ignorance from one generation to another. All of this trouble did not come from religion. Of course, it was in the best interest of the government to allow the people to think so because it allowed them to mask the rule of home ownership with being able to vote. If it had been one man one vote things would have been different. Also looking at it from a religious point of view is a total loss because both sides believe that Jesus died for our sins, knowing that we could not keep the comandments. We are saved by grace and the only reason He went to the cross was to give us a relationship with Jesus and God the Father. The word of God was not given for debates, divison or hatred. Please do not let another generation of your children grow up in ignorance and bitterness. God Bless Ireland.
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