Belfast Telegraph

Past and present combine for images from Troubles

By Claire McNeilly

There's a lot more to these images of Belfast than first meets the eye.

They're the handiwork of 21-year-old Conall Kearney, an enthusiastic final year Ulster University photography student from west Belfast.

His innovative project, which involved deconstructing the conflicted history of Northern Ireland's capital city and placing it in a contemporary context, has resulted in a montage of original pictures.

Conall, who hopes to formally exhibit his work, said he aimed to teach his generation about our troubled past.

"Photographically, I've been exploring the landscape that neither my generation nor I got to see - even though we've heard so much about it and we still feel the effects of the Troubles," he said.

"I have overlaid photos that show how much conflict once impacted the city with its peaceful, modern day equivalent.

"Through these images I want to show that despite all its faults the city has in fact moved on and the landscape has changed. But we should never forget what once took place on these streets and vow never to return to those dark days."

Conall said he researched photos of the Troubles before going to various locations in Belfast, where he took his own shots and then Photoshopped the two images together. Referring to an image of a checkpoint at Castle Lane, Conall said: "I heard so much about these checkpoints, but couldn't really envision it.

"I found an old photo and went to the exact spot where that checkpoint was and took a shot.

"Then I overlaid the old photo on top and that gave me a sense of what it could've possibly been like."

Another picture depicts the Europa Hotel.

"It was the most bombed hotel in Europe; but for me, growing up, it was never that," he said. "I found a bombed image and overlaid it.

"It was hard to envisage it that bad back in the day. Again, it was about understanding what it was like."

The photo showing Boyles Bar on the Falls Road was one of the first he took.

He said: "That was the first day the British Army came to Belfast. I was trying to understand where it all started."

He said he's particularly proud of his Hill Street offering, adding: "That was a bombing in the 1990s and it's probably the closest I've got to matching the photos up; the windows of the office block match up almost perfectly."

He said one photo of an IRA man was a nod to inclusivity, adding: "I wanted to feature all sides - military, paramilitary and civilians. It shows how things have changed; you don't see these men running about the streets anymore."

Belfast Telegraph

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