Sheila Keegan

The July 4, 1999 issue of London’s The Sunday Telegraph newspaper carried an excellent full page account of Sheila’s experience when as a 16 year old student touring Ireland she got caught-up in rioting in the Bogside during which she took a photograph of children making petrol bombs which were being used in the fracas.  The article described that event and a trip back 30 years later during which she located and interviewed the children in the photograph.  Sheila is the daughter of Betty Tinneny of Killahurk, Carrigallen.


It was August 12, 1969 and I stood in Rossville Street, in the Bogside district of Londonderry, surrounded by a Catholic crowd.  Earlier in the day, the Apprentice Boys had marched through the city, in their annual comoration of the Siege of 1688.  Tension between Catholics and Protestants was palpable.  Trouble was expected.

It started with jeers and stone throwing.Within hours, it had escalated into fierce rioting between Catholics and the RUC.  The Battle of the Bogside had begun, marking the beginning of 30 years of violence. 

I stood, transfixed as a line of RUC officers 20 abreast, wielding batons and riot shields, broke through makeshift barricades and charged straight into us.  A crowd of Loyalists taking advantage of the breach, followed behind the catholic crowd scattered in panic.

I was not a rioter, I was an English schoolgirl hitchhiking around Ireland in the summer holidays with my friends, Pat and Laura.  We each had Irish Catholic parents.  They believed Ireland would be a safe place for our first solo holidays.  We had simply fetched up in Londonderry – the wrong place, the wrong time.

Disbelief at facing a wall of charging policemen gave way to panic.  We turned and ran.  We scaled a high wall and sought sanctuary in nearby flats.

It was impossible to leave the Bogside that night.  A Catholic family, the Quiggs, kindly put us up and we left the next morning.

I knew little of Iri