A Mural In Derry’s Bogside

Tarlach MacDhónaill outlines how he felt on viewing a mural in The Bogside.

During a recent tour of Derry with the New Lodge & Carrick Hill Youth Empowerment Scheme we stopped before a famous Bogside mural where I took a photo of the group. The picture connects the Past with the present and provides legacy with a definition I can understand. It portrays a cycle of struggle that working class youths have been placed in here for generations.

The background mural depicts a scene from the 'Battle of the Bogside' in August 1969. A young boy wears a gas mask attempting to protect himself from the CS gas being rained upon him by the RUC. He holds a petrol bomb in defence of his district as it suffers attack from the state and its proxies. In the foreground of the picture are some youths from North Belfast in 2018.

The young boy in the mural was born into a conflict which he neither started nor choose but a conflict in which he had to fight. He may have understood the root cause of this conflict. He might very well have believed in a cause or, perhaps he was merely reacting to the circumstances ongoing around him, just as children do.

The youths from North Belfast are fighting the same war today both from within and against the very same orange state as the young boy in the mural. It remains a class war. They have no gas masks to protect themselves from the poison rained upon them. They have no petrol bombs because it isn't Saracens or B-men trampling down their rights today. Our districts aren't being wrecked by rampaging gangs of orange-men anymore.

Our districts are still being wrecked though and innocent children are still forced into fighting, just as the kid in the mural was. Every day working class youths face battle against; legacy issues, trauma, intimidation, drugs, gangs, addiction, depression, anxiety, crime, being marginalised, social media, the expectations of others, discrimination, prejudice, poverty, exclusion and hate.

There will be no murals of them or even any record of their struggle. The names of an increasing number of their dead won't be listed on any roll of honour and yet still they must fight. More people have taken their own lives in the Six-Counties since the signing of the GFA than were killed in the conflict between 1969 and 1997 (Approximately 4,500). 

Walking Through Derry’s Bogside we listened to how this phase of conflict commenced and what it aimed to achieve in Republican terms. Doing so with a group of marginalised young people from working-class North Belfast I realised just how far short of these objectives Republicanism actually fell. The photograph depicts a past era when the youth of Ireland defended the Nation and its people. It also demands that the nation and its people begin repaying that favour today.

➽Tarlach MacDhónaill is an activist with the North Belfast IRSP

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

2 comments to ''A Mural In Derry’s Bogside "

  1. Just recently Chelsea Clinton stated that the liberal abortion policy of the US had been beneficial to the nations economy, to the tune of trillions of dollars. Is it a stretch to imagine people of her ilk would view drugs/suicides as being 'beneficial' to the economy? Just saying.

  2. "More people have taken their own lives in the Six-Counties since the signing of the GFA than were killed in the conflict between 1969 and 1997 (Approximately 4,500)."

    This is shocking.From the Troubles to the Troubled.


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