In 1978, photographer Chris Steele-Perkins visited Northern Ireland as part of the Exit Group, three photographers who were documenting the current state of poverty in Britain’s crumbling inner cities.
Arriving in Belfast, his visit was at a time of immense internal stress for the country. Civil war had broken out between Catholic nationalists and Protestant loyalists, exacerbated by the partisan Royal Ulster Constabulary who were supported by the presence of a considerable detachment of British Army troops from mainland Britain.
Steele-Perkins decided to photograph how life was lived in its various facets; not just the rioting and military occupation, though he could not ignore that which was so prevalent, but also the leisure, the entertainment, the homes, the fun, the funerals and the community.
During his stay, he befriended Paul and Anne McCorry and Paul’s story about life as a Catholic in West Belfast is an important reminder of the effect of The Troubles on ordinary people in the community.
In 2008, he returned to photograph and interview some of the people he had captured 30 years before. It was also 10 years after the Good Friday Agreement, which had brought to an end much of the violence of The Troubles, and the reflections of those that he talked to bring an extra dimension to this timely book, a century after Partition, on a traumatic period of British history.