Programme to mark spirit of Free Derry

The Battle of the Bogside. (Photo by Barney McMonagle, courtesy of the Museum of Free Derry.)
The Battle of the Bogside. (Photo by Barney McMonagle, courtesy of the Museum of Free Derry.)

The unique spirit of Free Derry is being celebrated this month in a series of powerful exhibitions, talks, film screenings and events spanning the 50th anniversary of the Battle of the Bogside.

This week, the award-winning Museum of Free Derry (MoFD) attracted huge crowds to the launch of their Free Derry Lives exhibition at the Guildhall. The stories help capture the essence and spirit of Derry folk who didn’t make headlines or history books. The exhibition will now move to Pilot’s Row and remains open to nominations.

Last night saw a panel discussion at the Guildhall from 7pm entitled, ‘Battle of the Bogside: Connections’. US civil rights veterans Sandra and Charles Simmons joined director Sean Murray from Belfast and Paddy Bogside’s son, Hugh, to explore the significance of August 1969.

Yesterday also saw the unveiling of an on-street exhibition along the fence of Pilot’s Row documenting the 1969 battle in photographs, curated by the museum.

Today, Friday August 9 from 1pm-3pm, staff from the Pat Finucane Centre will take visitors on a virtual tour through secret British government archives at the museum in Glenfada Park, and later tonight at 7pm, producer Anne Crilly and writer Micheal Kerrigan offer a script-in-hand reading of their new play ‘200 Yards’ at the museum, inspired by Micheal’s youth in the Bogside. Admission is free to both events.

As Derry’s battle subsided in August 1969, the conflict claimed its first child victim in Belfast - nine-year-old Patrick Rooney, who was shot and killed by RUC machine gun fire through the walls of his Divis Flat home. This Sunday, August 11, his brother Conn shares their story in, ‘Patrick Rooney: Lost Childhood’ at 7pm in the museum, hosted by Irish Times NI Correspondent, Freya McClements. Admission free.

On Monday, August 12 at 12.30pm,MoFD will host ‘Reflections of a former member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry’, with, Terry Wright, former UUP Chair in Derry and former Apprentice Boy discussing the impact and legacy of the Battle of the Bogside. Admission free.

Key MoFD events next week

*Tuesday August 13: Book Launch – Clive Limpkin’s Battle of Bogside 50th Edition, Museum of Free Derry, 7pm.

*Wednesday August 14: ‘In Their Footsteps’ exhibition, Rossville Street, Bogside, 1pm to 4pm (weather permitting). Exhibition of shoes representing victims and survivors of the conflict.

*Wednesday August 14: Film Screening – Battle of the Bogside, Museum of Free Derry, 7pm. A screening of Vinny Cunningham’s acclaimed 2004 film, Battle of the Bogside, written by John Peto and featuring many local people. Admission free.

*Friday, August 16: Damien Dempsey, Sandinos. Tickets from Cool Discs, Foyle Street.