‘A profoundly revolutionary struggle’

Adrian Kerr pictured at the launch of his book, "Free Derry, Protest and Resistance" with Jenny Doherty and Eamonn McCann. (2601SL20)
Adrian Kerr pictured at the launch of his book, "Free Derry, Protest and Resistance" with Jenny Doherty and Eamonn McCann. (2601SL20)

One of the most compelling books to emerge from the city in recent times, ‘Free Derry: Protest and Resistance’, was launched on Friday past at the Museum of Free Derry in Glenfada Park.

Written by Adrian Kerr, manager of the museum, the book chronicles the history of the Bogside during its Free Derry era with a detail and depth never before explored.

Colm Barton reads the Free Derry book at it's launch at the Free Derry Museum. (2601SL23)

Colm Barton reads the Free Derry book at it's launch at the Free Derry Museum. (2601SL23)

Published by the city’s premier publishing house Guildhall Press, the book was officially launched by its author and local activist Eamonn McCann.

Speaking of the importance of the Free Derry era on the history of Northern Ireland, McCann told the launch: “When I look back on it now, I can see how central Free Derry was to everything that happened afterwards. The way in which it was a culmination of the civil rights movement up to that point. The way in which it led on to the armed conflict and everything that transpired after that - it was a very significant plot point, if you like, in the narrative of Northern Ireland history over the past half-century.

“While we may have missed the significance of Free Derry because we were immersed in it, the British didn’t miss the significance of it and the British Army didn’t miss the significance of it,” McCann continued. “Evidence shows just how enraged the British Army were at Free Derry and being faced with an insurgent population. This was a challenge in a very fundamental, existential way to everything that the British Army believed and to the manner in which the British ruling establishment believed the world should be run.”

“Free Derry was a profoundly revolutionary event. It wasn’t simply a struggle for a bit of territory, it was actually a struggle for an idea. Free Derry was a message for the whole world.

“That’s why this book will have a resonance not just for people in this country, but a resonance everywhere where people have risen up to fight against oppression... Maybe it didn’t last forever, and it didn’t, but Free Derry gave people a glimpse of a possible future and that’s a wonderful thing for any city and any people or community to have done. Genuinely this is a very significant book and I hope it goes far,” he added.

Speaking of the publication, author Adrian Kerr added: “This book is planned to be an extension or companion piece to the story of the Museum itself. It’s very much inspired by the museum.”

Kerr also extended his sincere thanks to publishers Guildhall Press and all who contributed information or photographs to the new book.

“When you really go into the minutiae, especially through local newspapers, you see all the smaller things that made up the overall story. I learnt an awful lot while writing the book, and so I hope those already familiar with the Free Derry story might learn something too.”

‘Free Derry: Protest and Resistance’ is in shops now and is also available from the Museum of Free Derry and from: www.ghpress.com.