New Journal photos book to focus on 1980s

An armed and masked IRA man climbs aboard a bus, Londonderry
An armed and masked IRA man climbs aboard a bus, Londonderry

The eagerly-awaited fourth volume of old photographs from the archives of the ‘Derry Journal’ is in the pipeline.

‘Derry Journal - The 1980s: A Decade in Focus’ is to go on sale later this year.

As with its best-selling predecessors, the new book will be jam-packed full of images that will appeal to those who love Derry and its past.

Published in conjunction with Guildhall Press, the new book will contain many images that have never been seen before.

The man behind the book is ‘Journal’ reporter Sean McLaughlin who likens the new book to a “time-travelling virtual-reality tour” of Derry in the 1980s.

Sean is currently ploughing through the newspaper’s amazing archive for the book which will hit the shelves just in time for the Christmas rush.

He says he’s been amazed at the runaway success of the first three ‘Journal’ books which have focused on the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

“They’ve been remarkably successful,” he says. “They have all hit the number one spot in the Eason’s chart locally which is pretty amazing.

“I think it goes to prove that nostalgia, the past, history - whatever you want to call it - is really popular with people.

“The Journal photos bring an important part of Derry’s recent history to life in a way that written records alone cannot. You come face-to-face with people from the past and wonder where they came from, where they went and what their story is.”

Sean says the new book covers a momentous era in Derry’s recent history.

“The 1980s was a difficult and, at times, very disturbing decade for Derry and the rest of Northern Ireland. It was an era dominated by the Hunger Strikes, the Anglo-Irish Agreement and fledgling peace negotiations.

“Like the 1970s, everyday life was overshadowed by a constant stream of political crises and shocking atrocities. The Troubles seemed entrenched and political and security issues dominated the news agenda.

“However, in spite of this depressing backdrop, people remained determined to get on with their everyday lives and it’s this important facet of Derry’s story that we focus on in the new book. Of course, the Troubles are well covered, but there was a whole other world going on out there, too. People just got on with their lives in spite of the mayhem surrounding them.

“A case in point was the return of senior soccer to the city in the mid 1980s. Derry City FC had joined the League of Ireland in 1985 after more than a decade in the sporting wilderness. This proved to be a shot in the arm for a community crying out for such a lifeline.

“Every Sunday, thousands of people put the grim reality of the ‘Troubles’ to the back of their minds as they travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to cheer on their Brandywell heroes.”

Sean says the images in the new book represent a unique pictorial record of Derry during the 1980s.

“Whether it’s photos of children at school, days out at the seaside, teenagers at their school formals or people simply going about their everyday lives, the images are a wonderful snapshot of times gone by.”