Saturday, February 27, 2010

Free Derry, Bogside Artists

I had a post about a week ago with a video discussing the recent history of Northern Ireland. One part of what is called Northern Ireland was named Londonderry by the English. But the Catholics who reside there have proudly changed the name of the town to Free Derry.

Northern Ireland is a part of Ireland proper, but England claims it as a colony, and has moved Protestants into the area to make sure the Catholics continue to be oppressed and denied civil rights, education, and employment opportunity. Because it is a colony, because the people are oppressed, because it is founded in religious intolerance by the British, Northern Ireland is very poor. At least the Irish -- the Catholics are.

Bogside is an area of housing in Free Derry. Mostly Catholics live there. Very poor. Mass housing, not very fancy. The people who live there are victims of ongoing educational, housing, and employment discrimination which prevents them from sharing in the rights of citizenship. Bogside was the scene of English military occupation, killing, and rioting in the early 1970s.

Local artists in Bogside painted enormous murals on the buildings to memorialize those were killed during that time, and the ongoing struggle for civil rights and independence from England. The artists and the murals have received international acclaim, and there are tours that take people around to see the murals. Here is the website of the bogside artists:

Here's a sign put up by the residents of Derry, rejecting the English name of Londonderry, and selecting for themselves the name of Free Derry.

Here are some pictures of the area known as Bogside.

Free Derry - Bogside

Free Derry - Bogside

Free Derry - Bogside

Free Derry - Bogside

Here's a mural showing a protester standing up to British tanks.

Here's a mural of the people demanding civil rights. All these murals are painted on the sides of the buildings where the people of Free Derry live.

Bloody Sunday

Bernadette Devlin, one of the leaders of the civil rights movement. Notice the sign in the back of this mural saying the new name, "Free Derry," instead of the British name "Londonderry."

Annette McGavigan was a 14-year-old Irish schoolgirl who was gunned down in the streets of Free Derry by a British soldier.

This is a mural of the victims of Bloody Sunday, a day on which Northern Irish civil rights marchers were gunned down by the Protestants and the British.


  1. From 1916 till now, the true nature of British power and social control has been plain to see by any not blinded by prejudice.
    Ireland is an area I point out when I hear people talk about how Great Britain might have a modifying restraint upon U.S. designs in the Middle East.
    Britain is nothing more than a cheap streetwalker for U.S. imperialism, and I see nothing which will change this.
    More autonomy by Scotland and Wales may help. The North Sea oil is a big chip in that particular game, though how it might be worked out is beyond my vision.
    I am sure that Northern Ireland is part of Ireland and anything less is colonialism.
    Don Smith

  2. I hate England. Except the Beatles, and I think they were Irish transplants. I had an Aunt Katy from Waterford who hated the English, but hated the Scottish more. Apparently the English used the Scottish as blockbusters -- sent them in to take over the land and throw the Irish out. Then I have an Uncle Tom who, with other men, according to him, raided the British garrisons when the British tried to conscript the Irish to fight in World War I. Then Uncle Tom had to flee for his life. Great Aunt and Great Uncle, now both gone. But their stories about being treated like dirt, having everything stolen from them, have never left me.