Northern Ireland news

Exhibition on 60-year history of Lenadoon hopes to 'reconnect' community and 'get them out of Covid trenches'

A group of young boys playing in Lenadoon Avenue in the 1970s. Picture courtesy of Charlie Rodgers

A LONE IRA gunman running for cover and the arrival of European butter are among the 600 photographs featured in a fascinating exhibition about a west Belfast housing estate.

Images capturing 60 years of Lenadoon's history have been compiled after an appeal went out by for old pictures to showcase the area's social, cultural and political experiences.

Sean McKernan, who has designed and curated the exhibition, said the most important photographs were those focusing on "personal" histories of a community that is now 15,000 strong.

For the documentary photographer - who has over 40 yeas experience with his work exhibited internationally - the difficulty lay in getting good quality images, which he said were like "hen's teeth" in a digital age.

"It's those photos that your aunty or granny has in a tin box under the bed that we wanted. People were sending us in digital copies but we couldn't use them as we needed originals," he told The Irish News.

"What we did get was fantastic though and I really hope people come to see this historical exhibition. I did something similar in the 1980s with Carrick Hill and it was a great success.

"We're looking at ways of extending the exhibition to include a book and hopefully when people see it, more will come forward with precious photos."

Mary McMullan (left) receives the first delivery of 'EEC' butter from Patsy Mallon

The exhibition will begin tomorrow and run for two days at the Glen Community Complex on the Suffolk Road.

Former Oliver Plunkett school teacher Kevin Smith is among the contributors, with his shots of young boys perched on old bits of wood in Lenadoon's 'half moon lake' in 1971 snapped during a lunch-break walk.

The ending of the IRA ceasefire and infamous 'Battle of Lenadoon' - which led to a six-day gun battle between the IRA and British Army in 1972 - also features alongside carefree shots of kids (including the future playwright Pearse Elliot) playing on a wall.

School boys on Half Moon Lake in 1971

For Mr McKernan, he hopes the project will allow people to "get out of the Covid trenches" and engage with each other.

"We'll be following all the regulations but we want this to be an opportunity for people to make human contact and reconnect, especially the older generation who have been conditioned by the pandemic and are afraid to go out," the Belfast Exposed gallery founder added.

"Most of the funding geared towards arts projects have centred on virtual initiatives, which I perfectly understand. But I think it's important to see each other again and talk. It's great for mental health and the human spirit."

Funeral of the INLA's Gino Gallagher in 1996

Residents protest against Housing Executive's decision not to install central heating in squatters' homes in 1982

Sean Maguire's fiddle class, 1985

An IRA gunman during the breaking of the IRA ceasefire in 1972


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