The Troubles is a term used to describe the period that engulfed Northern Ireland in conflict for nearly 30 years. It is a conflict that in several aspects, remains unresolved to this day.

The Troubles in Northern Ireland lasted from 1969 – 1998, until the signing of a cease fire, known as the Good Friday Agreement, took place in April 1998. Deep rooted in differing political and religious outlooks, the origins of the Troubles can be traced back to as early as the 17th century.

Through a series of photographic images, we capture the history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland and the unrest, challenges and anguish of this contentious period. 20 images of The Troubles paints a picture of what life in Northern Ireland was like during this difficult time.

Open at IWM North from 22 March to 29 September 2024, Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles explores the multiple perspectives of those affected by the conflict. You can also watch our four-part Troubles in Northern Ireland video series, which examines the entire history of the conflict. 

Photographs

Civil Rights Marches, 1968-69

Civil Unrest in Northern Ireland 1968-1969: Students at Belfast University, carrying banners proclaiming 'Civil rights for everyone', the 'Special Powers Act Must Go', and 'We want Houses Not Platitudes', march through Belfast to the City Hall in October 1968.
© IWM HU 55866

Civil Unrest in Northern Ireland 1968-1969: Civil rights activists, carrying banners proclaiming 'Civil rights for everyone', the 'Special Powers Act Must Go', and 'We want Houses Not Platitudes', march through Belfast to the City Hall in October 1968.

Photographs

Arrival of the British Army, 1969

The first British troops are deployed in Northern Ireland, August 1969: Soldiers and army vehicles in the Protestant Shankhill Road, Belfast, after a night of violence in which three people died, 12 October 1969.
© IWM HU 55869

The first British troops are deployed in Northern Ireland, August 1969: Soldiers and army vehicles in the Protestant Shankhill Road, Belfast, after a night of violence in which three people died, 12 October 1969.

Photographs

Tea and biscuits,1969

2nd Lieutenant James Daniell and two riflemen of 1st Royal Green Jackets are supplied with tea and biscuits prepared by a local Belfast woman outside a house in Cupar Street in the republican Falls area of Belfast during the Battalion's first tour of duty in Northern Ireland. The tour lasted from 20 August - 18 December 1969.
© IWM TR 32994-1

2nd Lieutenant James Daniell and two riflemen of 1st Royal Green Jackets are supplied with tea and biscuits prepared by a local Belfast woman outside a house in Cupar Street in the republican Falls area of Belfast during the Battalion's first tour of duty in Northern Ireland. The tour lasted from 20 August - 18 December 1969.

Photographs

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972. Members of the Support Company, 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment pictured in action in the Bogside, Londonderry on Bloody Sunday.
© IWM MH 30538

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972. Members of the Support Company, 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment pictured in action in the Bogside, Derry/Londonderry on Bloody Sunday.

Photographs

Bloody Sunday Arrests

Suspects, lined up against a block of flats in Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Londonderry, are searched by members of the Support Company of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment during Bloody Sunday, January 1972.
© IWM MH 30537

Bloody Sunday, 30 January 1972. Suspects, lined up against a block of flats in Rossville Street in the Bogside area of Derry/Londonderry, are searched by members of the Support Company of the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment during Bloody Sunday, January 1972.

Photographs

Bomb disposal robot

A remote controlled Wheelbarrow Bomb Disposal robot of 321 EOD Company, Royal Logistic Corps carries out a controlled explosion to make safe a suspected car bomb in a street in Northern Ireland. The Wheelbarrow was introduced in 1972 and was used throughout the Troubles.

Photographs

News coverage of army operations,1972

Operation MOTORMAN, carried out on 31 July 1972 by twenty-seven battalions of the British Army, broke down the Catholic 'no-go' area barricades in West Belfast and the Bogside and Creggan in Londonderry. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Mottram, being interviewed by ITN after the removal of the barricades in the New Lodge area of Belfast.
© IWM MH 30542

Operation MOTORMAN, carried out on 31 July 1972 by 27 battalions and two armoured battalions of the British Army, broke down the republican 'no-go' areas barricades in West Belfast and the Bogside and Creggan in Derry/Londonderry. The Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Mottram, being interviewed by ITN after the removal of the barricades in the New Lodge area of Belfast.

 

 

Photographs

Operation Motorman,1972

Three children and a journalist look on as a British soldier stands on top of a barricade prior to its dismantlement during Operation Motorman. Glass litters the ground and a cloud of CS gas hangs in the air.
© IWM HU 55876

Three children and a journalist look on as a British soldier stands on top of a barricade prior to its dismantlement during Operation Motorman. Glass litters the ground and a cloud of CS gas hangs in the air.

Photographs

Bag searches,1973

An unarmed WRAC Corporal searching shoppers in Derry/Londonderry in January 1973.

Photographs

Vehicle Check Point,1974

A vehicle Check Point in the town of Strabane, on the road to Lifford in the Republic of Ireland manned by the Royal Welch Fusiliers in January 1974.

Photographs

Hunger strike riots,1981

Youths throwing stones at troops in the Bogside area of Derry/Londonderry, Northern Ireland, during the hunger strike riots which took place over the Easter weekend of 1981.Troops of 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment, were on riot control duty.

Photographs

Bobby Sands and the Hunger Strike Riots

An H-block demonstration in Guildhall Square, Derry/Londonderry, May 1981. A figure on the left is holding a picture of the prisoner Bobby Sands, the leader of the IRA hunger-strikers in the Maze Prison.

Photographs

Apprentice Boys parade, 1981

The Reverend Ian Paisley, Free Presbyterian clergyman and leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leading the Apprentice Boys Parade in Derry/Londonderry on 12 July 1981.

Photographs

Sinn Fein march,1982

A Sinn Fein march through the Rossville Flats area of Derry/Londonderry on 11 May 1982.

Photographs

Wall murals,1988

Two spectacular and intricate wall murals in Springhill Avenue, West Belfast. They were designed by Gerry Kelly, who was influenced by the work of the Celtic painter Jim Fitzpatrick.
© IWM CT 529

Two spectacular and intricate wall murals in Springhill Avenue, West Belfast. They were designed by Gerry Kelly, who was influenced by the work of the Celtic painter Jim Fitzpatrick.

Read more in: How murals illustrate Northern Ireland's political landscape.

Photographs

Army dog,1980s

A British Army dog handler of the Royal Army Veterinary Corp's Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland poses with his dog for the camera in the late 1980s.
© IWM CT 607

A British Army dog handler of the Royal Army Veterinary Corp's Army Dog Unit Northern Ireland poses with his dog for the camera in the late 1980s.

Army dogs were used in a variety of roles in Northern Ireland, including security and detection work such as patrolling army base perimeters and locating caches of arms and explosives. Four dog handlers were killed in Northern Ireland during Operation BANNER. In two cases, their dogs also died.

Photographs

Challenges to the peace process,1998

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Dr Mo Mowlam, visits soldiers from 1st Battalion, Scots Guards during operations at Drumcree, 10 July 1998.

 

The Orange Order Parade and Service at Drumcree took place every year in July and was a regular source of sectarian violence throughout the Province. From 1995 onwards, it increasingly jeopardised the Northern Ireland Peace Process. In 1998, the new Parades Commission banned the Orange Order from marching along Garvaghy Road, setting up road blocks, moats and barbed wire. 1,000 soldiers and 1,000 members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary were deployed in the area. A stand off resulted leading to widespread violence.

 

On 12 July, three children died in Ballymoney when their home was petrol bombed by loyalist supporters. The incident caused international condemnation and the end of protests on a significant scale.

Photographs

Armoured vehicle,1998

Soldiers from the United Kingdom Stand-By Battalion, The King's Regiment (Liverpool), move out on patrol in Saxon armoured vehicles from Girdwood Barracks in Belfast in July 1998.

 

The Battalion had been airlifted to Belfast from Blackpool at short notice a few days earlier to assist the Royal Ulster Constabulary in controlling sectarian violence at Drumcree and elsewhere during the parade season.

Photographs

The Omagh Bombing, 1998

Aerial view of devastation in Omagh after a 500lb car bomb was detonated in the town centre on 15 August 1998 by a dissident Republican Force known as The Real IRA.

 

The Omagh bombing was the single worst terrorist atrocity to occur in Northern Ireland during 1969 - 2007. Its consequences were made more severe by a telephone warning which misled police into evacuating shoppers directly into the path of the bomb. At least 29 men, women and children were killed.

 

The dead included visiting schoolchildren from Spain and unborn twins. 380 people were injured, many maimed for life. For the first time, Sinn Fein and the official IRA joined the worldwide condemnation.

Photographs

Bomb disposal, 2003

An Army bomb disposal expert of the Royal Logistics Corps defuses a Loyalist pipe bomb that was attached to the gates of Holy Cross Catholic Primary School in Ardoyne, North Belfast at the start of the new school term on 5 January 2003. The children remained inside the school building while the bomb was defused.

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Barbed wire fence across a terraced street to mark division between republican and loyalist areas of Belfast during The Troubles.
© Rolls Press/Popperfoto via Getty Images
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Northern Ireland: Living with the Troubles

IWM North
22 March to 29 September 2024

What you need to know about The Troubles
© IWM TR 32970-1
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© IWM (Art.IWM PST 13657)
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