Derry writer to co-author book on children who died in the Troubles

Freya McClements and Joe Duffy say many young victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles have effectively been forgotten by history. Photo: Emily Quinn.
Freya McClements and Joe Duffy say many young victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles have effectively been forgotten by history. Photo: Emily Quinn.

Derry writer and journalist Freya McClements is to co-author a new book on the children who died during the Troubles.

‘The Children of the Troubles’, written by McClements and RTE broadcaster Joe Duffy, will be published by Hachette Books Ireland in Autumn 2019.

A former ‘Derry Journal’ reporter who now writes for the ‘Irish Times,’ Freya explained that, to date, there is no complete list of the children who were killed in the Troubles.

“This is the first book which will focus solely on the children who were killed during the Troubles and we hope it will go some way to righting the wrong which has seen many of the Troubles’ youngest victims being effectively forgotten by history,” she said.

The co-authors have already been working on the book for more than a year and are now making a public appeal for information to the families of the children who were killed.

It follows a successful book and RTE documentary by Joe Duffy on the children who were killed during the 1916 Rising.

“I discovered during my research into the 40 children killed in the Easter Rising that the families simply wanted their relatives publicly remembered,” said Duffy.

“It wasn’t about blame, simply about commemorating and honouring these young children were part of our history.

“We wish to make contact with every family who lost a child as a result of Troubles, to give them the opportunity to take part in the book and to share information, photographs and memories of Northern Ireland’s lost children.

“Our initial research, using information in the public domain, from books to newspapers and broadcast media, has already indicated that the number of children - age 16 and under - who were killed as a result of the Troubles has been significantly publicly under-recorded and underestimated,” he said.

“We’re deeply grateful to the families involved and to organisations like the Pat Finucane Centre, Innocent Victims United and Relatives for Justice who are working alongside us,” added Freya.

“However, it is vital for us to make sure that we attempt to make contact with the families of every child killed, in order to offer every family the opportunity to take part, and would like to appeal to any families who may not yet have heard from us to get in touch so that we can tell them more about the project and how they might be involved.”

A number of families from Derry and the north west are already taking part in the project.

Martin McGavigan, whose sister Annette was shot dead in the Bogside in 1971, aged 14, said: “We, as a family, have never forgotten Annette and we think it’s only right that all of the children who were killed in the Troubles should be publicly acknowledged and remembered.

“The McGavigan family is delighted to be involved in this important project, and we would encourage other families like ours to get involved and make their voices heard,” he said.

Also taking part is Harry Feeney, brother of Kathleen Feeney - also 14 - who was killed in the Brandywell in 1973.

“We, as a family, believe this book will memorialise our sister who loved life and died too young.

“Kathleen will never be forgotten by her family and we truly appreciate her also being publicly remembered as the fun loving girl she once was.”

Sisters Donna Macaulay and Lisa McKean have also contributed their memories of their brother Paul Maxwell - one of two children killed when an IRA bomb exploded on Lord Mountbatten’s boat off the Irish coast in the summer of 1979.

“Paul Maxwell, our much loved brother, died in 1979 when he was 15 years old,” they said. “It is so important that he and all other children who died in the Troubles are remembered not as statistics but as individuals whose lives were cut tragically short.”

To get in touch with the Children of the Troubles project, email childrenofthetroubles@gmail.com