Northern Ireland news

Tributes to Belfast photographer who captured key moment of Troubles

A photograph by Gerry Collins of British soldiers in Bombay Street, west Belfast, in August 1969
Brendan Hughes

A WEST Belfast photographer whose work captured one of the key moments in the early days of the Troubles has died.

Gerry Collins, who died yesterday aged 97, photographed the burning of Bombay Street in August 1969 after it was targeted by a loyalist mob.

His dozens of images were first displayed in a successful exhibition in 2009 to mark 40 years since the attack.

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They were also reproduced in a catalogue, for which a foreword was written by former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams.

Photographer Frankie Quinn was running the Red Barn Gallery in the city centre when Mr Collins visited with his photos in a box.

"To say my jaw hit the floor would be an understatement. I realised straight away I was looking at history – an important piece of history," Mr Quinn said.

Gerry Collins. Picture by Frankie Quinn

He said Mr Collins's "contribution to photography should not be underestimated".

"Without Gerry, we would never have seen the scale of devastation and terror brought upon the residents of Bombay Street in the pogrom of August 1969," he said.

Mr Collins was a founding member of the Christian Brothers Camera Club on the Antrim Road and also a former senior engineer at the old Belfast business Mackie's.

Paying tribute, Mr Quinn added: "He was a total gentleman, and very dapper too, always extremely well-dressed, very well-mannered, and just a lovely man."

Mr Collins, husband of the late Kathleen, is survived by his children Nora, Michael, Gerard and Roisin, grandchildren and wider family circle.

Gerry Collins's photographs were reproduced in a catalogue for which a foreword was contributed by ex-Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams

His funeral Mass will be held at St Paul's Church at 10am on Friday.

The service will be private to family only due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but will be streamed live online.

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