Remembering the Troubles: 1969-2005

This project commemorates the victims of the Troubles that occurred in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 2001. It was a tragedy of immense proportion, which left almost 4,000 people dead and caused incalculable damage to the lives of those who survived. The true costs of the Troubles will probably never be fully known.

The age of the Troubles might be over, but its legacy is still present in the daily lives of the people living in Northern Ireland. The death of journalist Lyra McKee reminds us all that peace, painfully achieved with the Good Friday agreement, is fragile and violence is still very much present. The voices of the dead should never be forgotten. The experiences of those who are still alive should always be kept in mind.

The data

The dataset used on this page comes from Robert McKeown's research, which accounts for all victims of the Troubles between 1968 and 2005. The dataset has been made freely available for research purposes.

I have also undertaken additional research to give a life and body to the stories told by the numbers, such as the exact locations of the attacks carried out out of Northern Ireland.

Deaths: a timeline

McKeown's database records deaths from 1969 to 2005. His account slightly differs from that of another well-known dataset compiled by Sutton, but the estimates tend to converge. The names of 3,649 people are listed in McKeown's collection.

Violence escalated in the early 1970s and peaked in 1974, before subsiding slightly in the years that followed. A fresh outbreak of violence in the 1980s and early 1990s prompted new political discussions, which evwentually led to the Good Friday agreement of 1998. The count of victims, however, continued and is ongoing to this date, even though it is nowhere near the peak of the 1970s.

How many people died in the Troubles?

Here is a timeline of the victims in the Troubles. Hover on the chart to find out more.

Zooming in on Northern Ireland

Of the 3,649 deaths recorded by McKeown, 3,390 occurred in Northern Ireland. The remaining 259 took place in Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland or other EU countries.
Within Northern Ireland itself, some areas suffered more than others. Belfast was the main battleground, especially in the 1970s. Waves of killings also hit other areas, especially in the 1980s and 1990s.

Mapping the conflict: explore the data

Each area in the map below represents a parliamentary constituency. The darker the colour, the higher the number of deaths during the year.
Feel free to explore the data using the slider. Hover on each constituency to explore the data by area.

Reading the conflict: who died in the Troubles?

The Troubles are often read as a sectarian conflict between peoples with two different religious traditions: Catholic and Protestants.

It was, however, mostly a political struggle between Republicans and Loyalists over the control of Northern Ireland, or Ulster. It is therefore no surprise that most victims were security force targets. For Irish republican militias, in particulars, the British military was an occupation force that had to be driven out of the island.

How much did religion matter?

Most victims in the Troubles were security force targets, not related to their religion

Victims by religion: a complex story

Most victims of the conflict are classified either Catholic or Protestant, but those whose religion is defined as "not relevant" to the killing are a sizeable minority.

Many of them were security forces. Most victims, however, are civilians, among both Catholics and Protestants.

Hover on the squares to identify each group, and click to zoom in.

More than numbers

The violence of the Troubles is much more than numbers. In many instances, perpetrators were not found and prosecuted, and the families are still asking for justice to be restored. The story of the Troubles is also one of miscarriage of justice and questions with no answer. A Historical Inquiries Committee was established to investigate the security forces' and police's behaviour during those years and to uncover malpractice. Some government commissions (like the Saville Inquiry) have been established to investigate specific cases. For decades, organisations and advocacy groups have worked relentlessly to find justice and truth for the dead and the living.

Read the stories

Click on each bar to read the story associated with the event.