Tribute to Derry-born author of ground-breaking Bloody Sunday study

Patrick Hayes, who passed away recently, co-authored important research into the impact of trauma and loss among relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday. In this article, his friend, Jim Campbell, Professor of Social Work at University College Dublin, pays tribute.

Friday, 7th January 2022, 10:34 am
The late Patrick Hayes.

It is with sadness that family and friends mourn the passing of Dr Patrick Hayes on Wednesday, December 29, 2021, in Florence, Massachusetts, writes Prof. Jim Campbell.

Patrick was born in Derry on March 23, 1944, and emigrated with his family in the 1950s, via Liverpool, to Halifax, Nova Scotia, and, then, to Boston.

It was the impact of news about Bloody Sunday that drew him back to Derry to carry out a PhD study, which I was honoured to supervise at Queen’s University Belfast, in the late 1990s.

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Bloody Sunday and its aftermath had a big impact on Patrick Hayes.

Patrick often reflected on his connectedness with Derry and rekindling old family networks in preparation for the study. He never tired of telling stories about him and his late wife, Professor Eileen Hayes, UMass, being hosted with endless cups of tea and buns in crowded sitting rooms with families that his parents had known.

They then visited and interviewed families who had lost loved ones during Bloody Sunday to explore what might be the psychosocial effects of the event, nearly two decades afterwards. Follow up interviews were carried out around the time of the 25th anniversary which led to the book, ‘Bloody Sunday: Trauma, Pain and Politics’, in 2005, published by Pluto Press.

The moving testimonies of the families revealed many aspects of trauma, bereavement and loss, often unresolved because of social and political impediments which stymied opportunities for truth, justice and reparation. Patrick was particularly interested in how the traumatic experiences and memories told by the first generation might have impacted upon the second generation, a phenomenon recognised in the literature as intergenerational trauma. His own professional experiences as a social worker in helping clients who had experienced a range of traumas helped him ground his understanding of the possible effects of Bloody Sunday. Patrick concluded that how families talk about, or do not talk about, such traumas can have both positive and negative impacts on the lives of the next generation. However, wider social and political events can offer opportunities for healing, but also reproduce trauma. Patrick noted how Bloody Sunday family members reported being shunned and stigmatised by some Derry communities in the early days and, then, the optimism which the Saville Inquiry might bring. He often discussed how important issues of justice should be dealt with after the Inquiry established the innocence of family members and the involvement of troops and the establishment in covering up the killings and injuries.

After graduating from Queen’s in 2000, Patrick continued with his busy social work practice, but returned to Ireland many times, with Derry always in his heart and mind. His childhood memories of old Derry and its mannerisms remained throughout his life; he had a keen sense of humour and satire about the religious and social divisions which characterised the Troubles, but was always kind and thoughtful in his concerns about social justice and equality in Ireland and other parts of the world.

Patrick Hayes and Jim Campbell's critically acclaimed book.

Sadness and loss affected Patrick in the last decade; he lost Eileen, who passed away in January 2010, and a brother and sister in the last few years.

Patrick was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary

Fibrosis three years ago, but to the very end was brave, stoic and always kind towards others in the face of illness.

He leaves behind his children, Sean and Suzanne, and their families, his partner Jill as well as his many friends on both sides of the Atlantic. Everyone is trying to deal with missing Patrick, but also wish to recognise the richness of his life and the many contributions he made to the lives of others.