Derry snap captures prelude to Bloody Sunday

A picture of a young Martin McCallion snapped by his brother Pearse as he gazed pensively at marchers on their way to the murder and mayhem of the Bloody Sunday massacre can be reproduced here for the first time.

Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 3:52 pm
Updated Tuesday, 30th January 2018, 4:52 pm

Pearse, originally from Swilly Gardens, remembers taking the picture as the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) anti-internment march formed up in Central Drive 46 years ago today.

Mr. McCallion unearthed the snapshot, while rooting through his personal effects recently.

Taken on an old Polaroid camera, his pride and joy at the time, Pearse said the image of this younger brother, aged 12, has taken on an eerie quality given the subsequent events of January 30, 1972.

“I always thought that was a strange look on his face, the march going that way and he’s looking that way.

“What’s he looking at? Did he see something in his head?” wondered Mr. McCallion.

He recalls the atmosphere in Creggan as the march set off as upbeat, festive even, though he also remembers being under strict orders.

“I was warned by my mother. ‘You buckin’ watch him [Martin] if you’re taking him.’ Not because we thought anything was going to happen. We were very casual. It was a nice bright day.”

Pearse took plenty of photographs of the march as it made its way over Central Drive, down Linsfort and into the Bogside, although not many of those survive, unfortunately.

“I dandered down and was taking a few photographs here and there and, to tell you the truth, like a lot of other people it’s a haze how it all started.”

The amateur photographer said he was standing near Glenfada Park when the shooting started.

“You knew, you felt there was something not right and then you heard the slap, slap, slapping starting.

“I stood around Glenfada Park where I could see down Rossville Street and up at the Walls. We were just standing chatting and then it just all kicked off as you know.”

All thoughts of photography ended when the massacre commenced,

“I must admit I was shaken. I put my hand on my camera but thought if I take my camera out I’ll be shot. So there were no photographs taken in the Bog,” said Pearse.