Eamon Melaugh was born on 4 July 1933 in Derry, Northern Ireland. His earliest memories are of the conditions in Derry during the depression years - 'the hungry thirties'. In order to contribute to the family income Eamon had to leave school aged 14 to try to find work. The lack of opportunity for third level education was to be a lasting regret. However, Eamon is a keen reader and has continued his self-education throughout his life.
As a young man Eamon was forced to leave Derry to try to find work in Scotland and England but returned to Derry in the early 1950s. In 1956 he married a local woman, Mary (May) McLaughlin and began a family. There were a number of further spells working in England before settling back in Derry. In 1961 the Melaugh family moved into a house in the Creggan Estate in Derry. Prior to that they had been sharing a house with a Protestant family in the Waterside area of the city.
In the late 1950s and 1960s Derry was an unemployment blackspot in Northern Ireland, itself the most depressed region in the UK. In addition housing conditions in the city were very poor and there was also a severe lack of public sector rented accommodation. As a committed socialist Eamon began actively campaigning to try to improve living conditions in the Derry. He was a founding member of both the Derry Housing Action Committee (DHAC) and the Derry Unemployment Action Committee (DUAC). The term 'action' in these two committees was a deliberate reflection of the desire to use the tactics of 'non-violent direct action' to force the Unionist controlled Londonderry Corporation and the Unionist government at Stromont in Belfast to introduce policies that would deal with the twin problems of unemployment and housing.
Late in 1968 the DHAC contacted the recently formed Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) and persuaded the group to organise a civil rights protest march in Derry. The organisation of the march was largely carried out by Eamonn McCann and Eamon Melaugh. The march itself on 5 October 1968 was violently stopped by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC). The events were captured by a television crew and the subsequent news coverage led to deep anger in the Nationalist community and a period of sustained rioting. The events also marked the beginning of the current conflict in Northern Ireland.
During the late 1960s and 1970s Eamon was actively involved in community issues and local politics in Derry. He was routinely arrested by the security forces for his role as organiser and participant in demonstrations. Eamon witnessed many of the pivotal events in Derry and was part of the demonstration on 'Bloody Sunday' on 30 January 1972. He was subsequently an active member of the Workers' Party.
Eamon has been a keen amateur photographer for many decades and regularly carried a camera. While it was often possible to grab photographs of events occuring in Derry, on many occasions his active involvement in civil rights protests meant that he was not able to record all the scenes himself.
Eamon and May Melaugh eventually raised a large family of four daughters and seven sons. When the last of the children left home Eamon and May began to foster children on a short and medium term basis. In total they fostered 15 children before each in turn was eventually returned to their own family or adopted by a new family.
The photographs that appear on the linked web pages are a selection from a larger collection dating over a number of decades. The photographs are an important social record of Derry and its people during one of the most turbulent periods in the city's history.
New Book of Photographs
Derry The Troubled Years
by Eamon Melaugh
Details of the book
Eamon Melaugh also has a web site containing photographs taken in India and also information about a number of charitable projects he is currently involved with; see:
Action With Effect
CAIN Web Service
all photographs © Eamon Melaugh
site developed by: Martin Melaugh
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