Published Thursday, 12 September 2013
A heavily fortified watchtower at the former Maze prison. (© Pacemaker)
Closed since 2000, work began a few years later to demolish the high-security facility that had held hundreds of paramilitary prisoners from across the divide throughout the worst of the Troubles.
But the site now lies in limbo.
Plans to build a peace and reconciliation centre at the Maze have been put on ice, until a resolution can be found over unionist fears that it would only become a shrine to terrorism.
On the other side of the coin, its historical significance has been cited as justification not to simply eradicate the former prison.
Around the world, jails like the infamous Alcatraz now draw visitors to see the place where high-profile inmates - such as Prohibition-era gangster Al Capone - were once held.
Established in 1971, Her Majesty's Prison Maze was located on the site of the former RAF base at Long Kesh, in the townland of Maze on the outskirts of Lisburn.
And for three decades, it made headlines - for republican hunger strikes and dirty protests, for loyalist riots and rooftop demonstrations, and for the notoriety of many of its inmates.
With an intention to document history, these stills allow the viewer to form their own independent narrative, capturing the memories and myths synonymous with this momentous location.
Cathy Dempster, photographer
Among those housed there were the likes of loyalist killer Michael Stone and leading IRA man Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes.
The Maze was also where republican hunger striker Bobby Sands died and where LVF leader Billy Wright was shot dead by INLA prisoners.
For photographer Cathy Dempster, it seems an unlikely subject to feature in an exhibition.
Already established as a wedding and pin-up specialist, she decided to challenge herself to undertake a very different theme as part of her final major in HND Photography.
Cathy described her Maze project as "sobering, but worthwhile".
She added: "Most of the occasions I photograph are happy affairs. I've realised that being outside my comfort zone really transforms what you produce on camera."
The photographs can only be viewed at the exhibition, which will go on display at the Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown next month.
"One of the things I love about my job is working with people and seeing their reaction whenever they view their photographs," Cathy said.
"Not having that instant 'feedback' was a new experience but allowed me to flex that creative muscle and really try something different."
While striking images from within the H blocks during the prison's operational years have previously emerged, the exhibition features interior and exterior stills from the now abandoned site.
The free event at the Burnavon Theatre in Cookstown runs from 7-25 October.
© UTV News