Annette McGavigan

8 Dec

While in Derry on a class trip, we were lucky enough to get a walking tour of the city. Our tour guide was phenomenal; he was enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and above all, passionate about “his little city”. Halfway through the tour, we stopped on the city walls to look out over Derry and the bogside. We admired the murals from afar as our guide described each one. Later we were able to walk down to the bogside and see them up close, where we could really examine the incredible artistry of the murals. One of the murals in particular that struck me was the painted mural of a young girl in a school uniform. Her name was Annette McGavigan. This girl was 14-years-old when she was shot by British Armed forces. One afternoon she went with friends to collect the rubber bullets that littered the street after a riot. She bent over to pick up one of the rubber bullets that the armed forces used for riot control. The officers considered this a weapon, so they shot her dead. Annette was the 100th civilian victim and the first child to be killed of The Troubles. Her parents, as any parents would, suffered a devastating loss of their innocent child. Our tour guide told us that he knew Annette’s father, and that her father visited the mural every day until the day he died. He would sit in front of it each day after it was painted, and “talk” with his daughter. He never recovered from this horrible tragedy. The original mural, named “The Death of Innocence”, contained a painted rifle on the left side of the mural. In 2006, the mural was updated to display a broken rifle to represent the peace in Northern Ireland that was finally established. No soldiers have been prosecuted for her murder. What hit me the hardest is when our tour guide stopped, looked at us, and broke the complete silence by saying “A bond between a father and his daughter in irreplaceable. I would take a bullet for my daughter at any second, as I’m sure Annette’s father wished he could’ve been there to do the same.”

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