The Bogside Artists, Derry, Northern Ireland

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The Derry Murals, are located in the Free Derry Corner of the Bogside area in the city of Derry, Northern Ireland. This historic neighborhood was the site of significant events throughout the Civil Rights Movement and the era of unrest afterwards protesting British rule – known as the Troubles – and is commemorated today by the large scale Republican murals.

All along Rossville Street, in the Bogside area of Derry, are The Bogside Murals, also known as the People's Gallery, or simply the Derry Murals. The murals were painted by a trio of artists collectively known as The Bogside Artists. Tom Kelly, his brother William Kelly, and Kevin Hasson started painting the murals in 1993 to illustrate the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, particularly those in Derry, which culminated on “Bloody Sunday” when on January 30, 1972, British paratroopers killed 14 unarmed demonstrators.

The images are sometimes taken from photos taken on Bloody Sunday and during the Battle of the Bogside. Others are pure commemorations of hope, such as the dove on the oak leaf, symbolizing, at last, peace in Derry. Most of the mural painting is in black and white, like the news photos of the day.

Many of the murals draw inspiration from photos of the so-called Saturday Matinees, when protesters would gather in the Bogside Neighborhood on Saturday afternoons to protest.

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Perhaps the most famous of the large scale murals is “The Death of Innocence,” depicting Annette McGavigan, a 14-year-old schoolgirl gunned down in 1971.
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“The Hunger Strikers,” focusing on the plight of Republican prisoners on hunger strike in the H-block Maze Prison in Belfast. When we visited, the mural had been recently vandalized. This mural has been repainted since we visited.
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This mural depicts the activist Bernadette Devlin speaking through a megaphone at the Battle of the Bogside.
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The “Civil Rights” mural depicts a crowd of people holding protest signs between banners that say, ‘CIVIL RIGHTS’ and ‘ANTI SECTARIAN.’ The signs ask for equal employment opportunities and universal suffrage for Catholic citizens.
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The 1994 mural, “Petrol Bomber,” of a youth in an anti-tear gas mask recreates a 1969 photograph by Clive Limpkin taken during the three day Battle of the Bogside riot.
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“The Rioter” facing a British armored vehicle with a stone.
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“Bloody Sunday,” commemorates a public demonstration on January 30, 1972 known as Bloody Sunday Massacre or the Bogside Massacre. On that day, more than 10,000 men, women, and children assembled to protest the British policy of internment without trial. Multiple news photographers captured the aftermath of British troops opening fire into the gathered crowds resulting in 14 civilians killed and 28 wounded.
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“Operation Motorman” and “The Runner” depict scenes of unrest during the Troubles. Operation Motorman was the 1972 attempt by the British Army and security forces to retake these areas from Irish Republican Army paramilitaries that resulted in the death of two young people.
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The Bloody Sunday memorial, a simple granite obelisk, with the names of the civilians killed by British soldiers at the base.
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The Peace Mural, with the traditional symbol of peace, a dove merged with an oak leaf, come to Ireland at last.
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Although there are also signs and loyalist murals posted by the Protestant population of Derry, (or, as they call it, Londonderry,) we didn't enter those neighborhoods. Honestly, it didn't feel safe.

Note: We visited Derry and the Northern Ireland Murals in 2013. A few of the political murals, including the Hunger Strikers, have been repainted since our visit. Other murals, including ones featuring Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, have been added. If you visit Derry, be sure to also see the Museum of Free Derry.

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