‘Lost Childhood’ exhibition at Museum of Free Derry

The toy army truck owned by Stephen McConomy (11) is among the  items on display at the new exhibition at the Museum of Free Derry.
The toy army truck owned by Stephen McConomy (11) is among the items on display at the new exhibition at the Museum of Free Derry.

A toy army truck once owned by a schoolboy later killed by a British soldier is among the artefacts on display at a powerful new Troubles exhibition at the Museum of Free Derry.

The toy, which belonged to 11 year old plastic bullet victim, Stephen McConomy, is just one of the many poignant pieces on show as part of the Bogside museum’s new ‘Lost Childhood’ exhibition.

Children from across the NW feature in the new exhibition.

Children from across the NW feature in the new exhibition.

The expo remembers children from the Derry and Strabane District Council area who died as a result of the conflict here.

Inspired by the award-winning ‘Children of the Troubles’ book, the exhibition was launched by author Freya McClements.

Several powerful items belonging to 14-year-old Kathleen Feeney - killed by IRA gunfire in 1973 – are on loan to the exhibition.

These include the clothing worn the day she died, letters, notes, schoolbooks and her prized signed photo of Eurovision winner, Dana.

Clothing worn by Kathleen Feeney (14) on the day she died.

Clothing worn by Kathleen Feeney (14) on the day she died.

Also included is music memorabilia from the family of plastic bullet victim, Paul Whitters, including his Boomtown Rats T-shirt and album; a treasured family photograph of Tony Diamond, who died in a gun incident aged just 12-years-old, is also on display.

The family of Annette McGavigan have contributed the St Cecilia’s skirt and shoes the teenager was wearing when she was shot dead by the British Army in 1971.

Local teenagers Daniel Hegarty and Manus Deery, shot dead by the British Army in July 1972, are also remembered.

In all, twenty children and young people from the north-west feature in the exhibition, including Kathryn Eakin and Patrick Joe Connolly, who died in the Claudy bombing of July 1972.

Also highlighted are Charles Love and David Devine, from Strabane. The Love family contributed Charles’ watch, keyring and handmade moneybox to the exhibit.

It also remembers Bernadette and Carole McCool who died in an explosion at their home, Gordon Gallagher, who lost his life after accidentally standing on an IRA tripwire, Damien Harkin and Gary Gormley, who were both knocked down and killed by British Army vehicles, and young IRA volunteers Gerard Doherty, James O’Hagan, Michael Meenan and John McDaid.

“While this is a particularly hard-hitting exhibition, it is also a vitally important one for the families and the museum,” says Julieann Campbell, of the Museum of Free Derry.

“We are honoured to play our part in remembering a generation lost, but never forgotten.”

‘Lost Childhood’ runs upstairs at the Museum of Free Derry until Thursday, January 30. Admission to this temporary exhibition is free. All welcome.