If blind man Richard Moore was given the chance to see one thing, for just one second, it would be his two daughters.
An emotional Richard who spoke at St Cecilia’s College about the healing power of forgiveness on Wednesday, showed the pupils a picture of his two daughters Naoimh and Enya.
“You girls are doing something now that I will never be able to do,” he said. “You are a looking at a picture of my daughters. If I was told that I could see one thing, it would be them. That said, if I had to give up all of the experiences of my life that I’ve had as a result of my blindness I wouldn’t want my eyesight back.”
Richard, now 54, was just ten years old in 1972 when he was shot and blinded by a British solider firing a rubber bullet on the streets of Derry.
“I remember being in the ambulance, my daddy holding my hand, telling me I would be all right,” he said.
“Initially they thought I was going to die, then they thought I had brain damage. I remember talking to the boy in the bed next to me telling him how I wanted to play football again. I thought I couldn’t see because I had bandages on.”
When he was told that he was blind, Richard said he accepted it immediately.
“I never thought about it that night until I went to bed and I cried at the thought that I would never see the faces of my mammy and daddy again. There was such a sense of loss.”
The Derry man explained how he got through school at St Joseph’s and later university, with the help of classmates.
I was never afraid to ask for help,” he said. “I’m still not afraid to ask. I accepted my blindness, in fact I don’t mind being blind.”
In January 2006 Richard flew to Scotland to meet the man who had blinded him - Charles Innes.
“To sit opposite the man who blinded me was the most amazing experience,” he said. “I learned that forgiveness is a gift that you give to yourself. Forgiveness doesn’t change the past but it does change the future. I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I had been wracked with anger and bitterness. I am a victim of the Northern Ireland conflict, I can do nothing about that but I will not allow myself to be a victim of anger. That is a thing I can do something about.”