One of the most memorable moments in my journalistic career has been a photo essay shot during the Troubles in Belfast.

To those who don't understand the Troubles it was a civil war carried out by paramilitary forces between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

The Protestants supported staying with Britain, which Northern Ireland was a part of, and the Catholics wanted the six northern Irish counties to join in a united Ireland.

Thousands of people, from both sides of the sectarian divide, died during the conflict in which brutalities were committed in a savage, shadowy war.

I went to Belfast in 1988 and, only two days after my flight from London touched down, I was walking with thousands of Catholic mourners who were showing their support for three Irish Republican Army volunteers killed by British SAS troops in Gibraltar.

The British say they were there to commit a terrorist attack. The IRA denied that statement.

Personally, I believe they were there for some purpose other than sightseeing.

That aside, I went to their funeral at Milltown Cemetery to photograph another episode in the Troubles, but one that would become one of the most famous incidents of that undeclared civil war.

As we walked ahead of the procession through the streets of Catholic west Belfast there was no security from British forces. This was due to an agreement they would not have a presence at the funeral.

This presented a Loyalist gunman, Michael Stone, with the chance to launch an attack on the funeral at Milltown Cemetery. In his armoury was a bag full of hand grenades and a pistol.

Stone proceeded to kill three people and injure more than 50 when he lobbed grenades into the crowd.

I was within metres of one of his grenades and have captured the moment Gerry Adams, one of the leaders of the political wing of the IRA - pulled a young boy down to safety as the explosives went off behind him.

Gerry Adams, with beard and glasses, protects a young Belfast boy during a handgrenade attack in Milltown Cemetery in 1988.
Gerry Adams, with beard and glasses, protects a young Belfast boy during a handgrenade attack in Milltown Cemetery in 1988.

The attack definitely rattled me and I had nightmares for months over the bloody results.

It didn't stop me trying to sum up the Troubles in photos, but it took a long time to get over.

Why am I writing about this now?

Well, I have had a couple of really interesting emails in the past week. Both from Belfast and both asking about my photos of the Milltown Massacre.

The first was from someone writing a biography of Adams and he wanted that image I took of him protecting the youngster. I sorted through my library and found it but, along the way, saw two others just prior to the explosions that showed Adams reaching out to the young lad looking into the grave and supporting him with a hand on each shoulder.

Then a few days later I got an email that really thrilled me.

It was from the man who was the young boy. He has been searching for the photographer who captured that image in 1988.

He was the lad Adams protected and was now a film-maker himself.

I have to say it was wonderful to hear from him.

As a lensman my job has been to observe and record situations - the Troubles, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Rena disaster and Cyclone Winston to name a few.

It is fair to say I hope my images make a difference, but to actually hear from someone in one of them from so far away and so long ago is a wonderful rarity.

I have followed Adams' life and career since that attack. But he is a well-known figure and is easily tracked.

The shocked boy in the photo I captured at Milltown Cemetery in 1988 was unknown and for 28 years has just been part of an image.

I now know his name.

I felt elated.

This man had reached out to me across the decades and I felt an instant connection.

If I could have grabbed his hand I would have shaken it.

He sent me details of his career and I'm looking forward to having a long series of conversations with him via email and there is even a chance of filming a short documentary about his search for me.

Imagine ... 28 years, different hemispheres and different lives.

What a story Sean and I may be able to tell.

My Belfast photos are on