New book is memorial to those who died and tribute to those left behind

Derry's Bogside in the mid 1970s at the height of the Troubles.
Derry's Bogside in the mid 1970s at the height of the Troubles.

The deaths of all those who lost their lives during the Troubles in Derry are commemorated in a new history launched by Guildhall Press.

‘If Streets Could Speak’ provides a comprehensive record of all those who were killed in and around the city as a result of the conflict since 1968.

Brendan McKeever.

Brendan McKeever.

Brendan McKeever says he has written the book as a memorial to those who died and as a tribute to those who were left behind.

He adds that, despite the horrendous nature of the Troubles, those who were killed in Derry are valued and not forgotten by their relatives and friends.

“Everyone who died is someone’s son or daughter, possibly a mother, father, brother, sister, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandparent, uncle, aunt or a friend,” he said.

“In this publication, the streets of Derry are reminders of those who died in what are commonly referred to as ‘the Troubles’ in Derry. Place is very important in relation to deaths, and often the place where the person was last seen alive and/or where they died takes on a special significance. Streets cannot speak but people and historians can.”

Mr McKeever’s new book details the locations, circumstances and dates of the events that resulted in the deaths of all the victims during the last 50 years.

Mr McKeever said he wanted to acknowledge that the pain and loss felt by victims’ families and friends were as real today as that suffered over the previous decades.

“Hopefully, soon, families will receive the answers, justice, genuine apologies and compensation that they so rightly deserve,” he added.

“Discussions over relatives wanting different outcomes should not be used to delay progress in dealing with the legacy of the Troubles. A comprehensive response that incorporates such differing views is urgently needed.”

Conal McFeely, who wrote the preface for ‘If Streets Could Speak’, says the new book demonstrates that ‘remembering the past is as difficult as it is important’.

“This publication is very timely, coming as it does on the 50th anniversary of the ascendancy of the civil rights movement,” he adds.

“Notably, it spells out that, in dealing with the past, there are no quick or easy processes in addressing the loss of loved ones as a result of conflict here.

“If society is to effectively deal with the past, and the causes that gave rise to the conflict, then every aspect of society must be examined: the state, the churches, the politicians, Loyalist and Republican paramilitary organisations, the justice system and the security forces; all those, indeed, that through ‘sins of commission or omission’ allowed this community to slip into an abyss.”

Conal McFeely says Brendan McKeever’s book reminds us it is long past time for those directly involved in violence, including the governments, to collectively apologise to all the victims of the conflict and to pledge support to healing the wounds of the past by building a society that demonstrates respect, tolerance and understanding for its citizens and offers hope of a better future.

He adds: “Significantly, Brendan McKeever, through this commendable book, advises us of the growing trend of remembering the past through innovative means.

“Allowing people to give cultural expression to their family stories, and to commemorate the loss of their loved ones by revisiting their life narratives, can provide us with a much broader understanding of the human side of the impact of the violence.”

Mr McFeely says the needs of survivors and families to know what happened to their loved ones, killed and injured during the course of the last 50 years, must remain paramount.

“But it also must be recognised that the violence did not just happen spontaneously; rather it emerged from a historical social context. It is important, therefore, that we do not ignore the political and cultural environment that preceded the subsequent conflict.”

‘If Streets Could Speak’ will be launched on Thursday, November 22, at the Hive Studios, Ráth Mór at 7pm. The book is available in local bookshops, priced £7.95.