Free Derry: Bloody Sunday Museum

23 Dec

In Derry, of Northern Ireland, there lies a museum that is dedicated to the victims of the Bloody Sunday massacre that occurred in Derry in on January 30th, 1972. This terrible event, in which fourteen were brutally shot and killed by police during a peaceful march, is marked as an extremely dark day in Irish and Northern Irish history. The museum of Free Derry is dedicated to those individuals who gave up their lives attempting to promote peace and acceptance in Northern Ireland. The owner and the starter of the museum is actually the brother of the youngest teenager killed in the Bloody Sunday attacks.

When we first gathered into the front room of the tiny museum, the owner came to briefly speak with us. The story he told was full of detail, but, thankfully, also not full of detail. He was present during the attacks, and was with his brother while he was dying of the wounds he received. The owner gave us the basic facts of that day, and passed around some of the rubber bullets that the officers would use against the Free Derry activists. Knowing that one of those enormous pieces of rubber was shot at people from extremely close ranges is cringe-worthy. The story he told us is heartbreaking, but he was candid and honest while telling us, and even gave time for questions. Afterward, we were able to explore the small museum.

The museum consists of two long halls filled with pictures, artifacts, letters, newspaper clippings, and other things of the like. It also tells the basic history of the troubles in Derry, moving in chronological order. It is one of the most informative but saddest things that I have experienced while in Ireland. One of the most interesting aspects of the museum were the televisions, which showed homemade videos, as well as professionally taking videos, of various parts of the troubles in Northern Ireland. However, one specific thing that caught mine, and I’m sure many others’, eye was the letter that one of the officers wrote to the family of one of the dead protesters during Bloody Sunday. In this letter, the officer showed absolutely no remorse for his actions, and even went so far as to attack the individual.  It was the most appalling piece of paper I have ever seen, and it really highlighted the entire, polar opposite feelings and views that certain groups had during Ireland’s Troubles.

Overall, the trip to the museum, although extremely sad, was a fruitful one. It is a tiny museum, but so extremely informative and truthful. The personal history behind it makes the museum that much more memorable.

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