Bloody Sunday increased support for the I.R.A., fueled anti-British sentiment, and unleashed a surge of violence. On July 21, the I.R.A. detonated about two dozen bombs in Belfast, killing nine and injuring dozens more, in a day known as Bloody Friday.
Attacks by both the I.R.A. and loyalist paramilitary groups—such as the Ulster Defence Association—escalated throughout the year. In 1972 alone, at least 467 people were killed in the fighting, most of them civilians.
O’Callaghan’s once-peaceful city of Belfast felt like it was descending into a civil war zone, with innocent people on both sides caught in the crossfire.
“There were nights when you lay in bed, listening to gunfire,” she recalls. “It just became a part of the normal routine.”
Throughout the 1970s, ’80s, and into the ’90s, the I.R.A. continued its guerrilla warfare against the British Army. Terrorist activity by the I.R.A. and loyalist paramilitary groups surged, with hundreds of civilians killed in Ireland’s city streets and pubs, and bombings in public spaces in England. O’Callaghan remembers living in constant fear.
As the death toll rose, negotiations between leaders from the British Parliament and the different political parties in Ireland repeatedly fell through. Then, finally, in 1998, a peace plan called the Good Friday Agreement was reached.