On March 15th, 2015 I had the opportunity to visit Derry, along with the rest of our FIE group. We were taken on a guided tour of the city and later visited the Museum of Free Derry. I knew little about the city before our trip, but quickly became enraptured by its rich, yet turbulent history.
Derry—the second largest city in Northern Ireland and the fourth largest city on the island of Ireland—was named the U.K. City of Culture in 2013, largely because of the strides it has made since the violence and destruction of the Troubles.
Although the Troubles ravaged all of Northern Ireland for roughly thirty years (between the mid 1960’s and 1998, when the Good Friday Agreement was signed), Derry is particularly notable because it is the home of one of the most infamous civilian massacres in history.
On January 30th, 1972 British soldiers fired into a crowd of unarmed civilians who were marching in protest of internment. Twelve were wounded, fourteen were killed. This tragedy became known as Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre.
Perhaps the most striking aspect of Derry today is that the city has made no attempt to conceal the tragedies which occurred there, but emphasize them instead. The memory of the Troubles—and Bloody Sunday in particular—is preserved in memorials painted on the sides of buildings, it is preserved by statues and monuments that stud streets once fissured by violence, and it is preserved in the words of the citizens themselves—all of whom helped turn their city into one of pride, culture, and success.