Photography

The children’s funeral that shook Belfast – Alain Le Garsmeur’s best photograph – The Guardian

Summary

I had been to Belfast several times. I was a freelance photographer and all my work came from the Sunday Times ringing me up and saying: “Are you interested in going to such and such a place?” They would send me abroad for a couple of weeks with a pocket full of expenses and complete freedom. But I had married a woman from Northern Ireland so had a special interest in the area.

This was taken in August 1976 on a trip to Belfast with the writer D…….

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I had been to Belfast several times. I was a freelance photographer and all my work came from the Sunday Times ringing me up and saying: “Are you interested in going to such and such a place?” They would send me abroad for a couple of weeks with a pocket full of expenses and complete freedom. But I had married a woman from Northern Ireland so had a special interest in the area.

This was taken in August 1976 on a trip to Belfast with the writer David Blundy, who was later killed by a sniper in El Salvador. It was a horrendous week but it was a significant one, because the events – and this picture – helped start the peace movement.

On our first day, Sunday the 8th, there were riots in the street and I got some dramatic pictures of soldiers silhouetted against the barricades. On Monday, I was on the Falls Road, a well-known Republican area, and took a picture of children playing on the wreckage of a lorry that had been hijacked and burned.

Tuesday saw a really horrible incident. The army were chasing Provisional IRA volunteers who were driving a stolen car, and shot the driver, Daniel Lennon, killing him. The car went careering off the road into railings as a family were walking past. Anne Maguire and three of her children were crushed by the car. Two of the children died instantly; the third died in hospital the next day. I photographed the crash: the mashed-up pram and a baby’s bottle.

There were more incidents on Wednesday: burning vehicles, hijackings. On Thursday, the IRA held a funeral for Lennon, and the Maguire children’s funeral took place on the Friday. This photograph is of that, and their father. Thousands lined the procession route, both Catholics and Protestants. People were saying: “We can’t go on like this.” And that’s what started the peace movement.

Maguire’s sister, Mairead Corrigan, helped organise a peace rally of 10,000 women for the day after the funeral. The following year, Corrigan and Betty Williams, co-founders of the Peace People, were awarded the Nobel peace prize. In this picture, there’s a woman giving me quite a stare and I felt I was obviously intruding, but I had to get the pictures. There was no other way around it: I couldn’t do it from down the road or somewhere. And the photograph was important in driving this peace movement.

The army would fire rubber bullets. We didn’t have helmets like photojournalists have now. We just ducked

In those days, most photojournalists shot in …….

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2021/nov/17/childrens-funeral-belfast-peace-movement-northern-ireland-alain-le-garsmeurs-best-shot