Photographer Hugh Gallagher’s faces and places down the years

Vehicle on fire during riot in the Bogside (Hugh Gallagher)
Vehicle on fire during riot in the Bogside (Hugh Gallagher)

Creggan photographer and writer, Hugh Gallagher, has been providing snapshots of Derry life for decades and today he shares some of his pictures in the second of a two-part feature looking back over his life and career in the city.

After emerging from the Christian Brothers, Hugh would later go on to the Strand Tech and, like many teenagers in Derry at the time, he left school to start work at a young age.

Lollipop man Paddy Tierney (Photo Hugh Gallagher)

Lollipop man Paddy Tierney (Photo Hugh Gallagher)

Commenting on his first job, Hugh said: “I was nearly 15 and went into the BSR {Birmingham Sound Reproducers].

“For the interview for the BSR, it was ‘Come in, sit down, what school do you go to? Start on Monday’. And you got £2. 16s 4 d per week.

“The atmosphere was great there and the work was easy enough. Then my Da decided I should go and get a trade. So I travelled to Belfast to learn to be a sheet metal worker for about a year and a half.

“It was a Government Training Centre - at the time there were no training centres in Derry. When I came out of there, I could have got a job in Belfast without any prolems, but I hated the place.

Frankie Clifford pictured in Creggan. (picture by Hugh Gallagher)

Frankie Clifford pictured in Creggan. (picture by Hugh Gallagher)

“I came back up here and went into a garage to get a job as a sheet metal fitter and they said, ‘A fitter does that down here’. It was a waste of time!

“My next job was at Du Pont Construction. There were one thousand people at the time building the Lycra and Orlon factories. That was in 1969, then I had then ‘the usual’ after that - most of the places I went into closed: Leck Refrigeration; British Street Company; I was in there three times out in Springtown, government training camp.

“Then I couldn’t get a job so I joined an Ace Scheme at Dove House (around 1985) where I met Frankie McMenamin and the rest of the folk down there.

“They had a community magazine and I took some photos for that. Then I went to work for the ‘Fingerpost’ magazine. It was sometimes monthly; sometimes quarterly. And Eamon Deane was the first to encourage me to take some photographs and write some stories. I’ve had about 60 stories published up to now, some in the ‘Journal,’ Derry News and Ireland’s Own.”

Local community activist Frankie McMenamin (Photo by Hugh Gallagher)

Local community activist Frankie McMenamin (Photo by Hugh Gallagher)

Hugh’s growing expertise with the camera resulted in him being able to combine two passions, and would lead to his photographs being published in newspapers in Derry and further afield.

He said: “The first serious bit of photography I did was taking photos for Derry City FC Programme, ‘City View. ‘

“That was around the same time as the Ace Scheme. I started working for Derry City and I was only voluntary, I took the photos during the matches.

“I was in the Brandywell taking photos for the football magazine and Willie Carson came over to me and said ‘what are you doing?’ And I said, ‘taking photos for the programme’, and he said, ‘you can’t; you’re not a member of the union... I could get you thrown out you know’.

Bill Clinton pictured in Derry in 2014.

Bill Clinton pictured in Derry in 2014.

“I said ‘Eh?’ But he said, ‘I’ll do an alternative thing, I’ll get you to be member of the Union’.

“He got me to go down to Artie Duffy at the ‘Journal’ and sign the form to become a member of the Union. And that meant I could work for all newspapers. So then I worked for the ‘Journal,’ with Artie, at away matches in the likes of Cork and that. That was brilliant. I wasn’t working for the ‘Journal ‘officially, I was a freelancer.

“Then later I went into work in the ‘Journal’ as a Scanner. At the interview the editor said, ‘you’re not here to take photos; no photos. You are here to do scanning’. I would’ve got a full time job as a photographer, but I can’t drive. I never drove. I didn’t like being one of the pack either.

“Then on my first day in the ‘Journal’ office there was about four foot of snow in the ground and the editor said, ‘Go out and get some photographs for us in the snow!’

Hugh recalls the helpfulness of late Deputy Editor, Siobhan McEleney, and now retired news-editor, Mary McLaughlin, among others.

Over the years, Hugh has kept up his photography at away matches with Derry.

Former Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan speaking at a protest in Waterloo Street in times gone by.

Former Foyle SDLP MP Mark Durkan speaking at a protest in Waterloo Street in times gone by.

And while he didn’t start snapping seriously until the mid-80’s, he has since then gone on to photograph thousands of people , those in the public eye and local people in the community, most of it as a volunteer.

“I didn’t start taking photos until about 1985 and if you’d pointed a camera at the ‘Brits’ back then they’d have shot you! “ he maintained.

“Over the years I have been taking photos at senior citizens’ Christmas dos, photos around the Creggan, marches, funerals, weddings, christenings and for anybody that was looking for their group to be publicised. I never got paid for most of the stuff I did, I did it voluntarily.

“Football tournaments, suh as the Tony Quigley competition and I used to cover the D&D and visiting teams , and then I did a series for the ‘Journal’‘Face to Face’, that went on for nearly 1,000 people in the ‘Journal.’ I used to go down to the Foyleside on a Saturday and take people’s photos.”

“There’s a lot changed in photography. The first camera I used for Journal was 3.5 [megapixels] . Nowadays it’s 12 or 18.”

Hugh has published the a book ‘A View of Derry’ with Guildhall Press and ‘The Spectator and Other Derry Stories’ with Eamonn Deane and Yes Publications.

Martin McGuinness with James McClean in 2014.

Martin McGuinness with James McClean in 2014.

A younger Gregory Campbell at a rally (Photo by Hugh Gallagher)

A younger Gregory Campbell at a rally (Photo by Hugh Gallagher)

Paddy 'Smokey' Hasson, 2008

Paddy 'Smokey' Hasson, 2008

Arlene Foster pictured in 2007.

Arlene Foster pictured in 2007.

The late Seamus Heaney with Seamus Deane

The late Seamus Heaney with Seamus Deane