Peter Moloney’s ‘Troubles Treasure Trove’ finds a home at Derry’s Tower Museum

Peter Moloney and Mayor Maoliosa McHugh looking at a selection of items from the Peter Moloney Collection.
Peter Moloney and Mayor Maoliosa McHugh looking at a selection of items from the Peter Moloney Collection.

Derry’s Tower Museum now houses the largest known private collection of memorabilia charting the history of the N. Ireland Troubles.

Peter Moloney (pictured), a retired London-based architect born in Buncrana, Co. Donegal, has spent 50 years accumulating his unique ‘Troubles treasure trove’ – a labour of love that began when he was aged just 15.

Peter Moloney pictured with the Derry City and Strabane District Council team. From left are Emma McGarrity, Learning & Engagement Officer, Michelle Murray, Visitor Services Manager, and John Kerr, Arts and Culture Manager.

Peter Moloney pictured with the Derry City and Strabane District Council team. From left are Emma McGarrity, Learning & Engagement Officer, Michelle Murray, Visitor Services Manager, and John Kerr, Arts and Culture Manager.

His collection contains more than 48,000 items – including political propaganda, pamphlets, posters and photographs, as well as badges, cartoons, stickers and T-shirts. As the years passed, the collection became an archive covering Bloody Sunday, the hunger strikes, peace initiatives and other events.

Peter’s unique historical collection has attracted interest from major museums, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum in London and the Guernica Peace Museum in the Basque Country, but he has chosen the Tower Museum in Derry to be its home.

“He hopes what he has created will be “a motivator for peace and reconciliation and common understanding”.

Peter said: “Some of my collection may upset people but we can’t re-write history. My only wish is that people see it and learn from it.”

Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Colr. Maolíosa McHugh, said Peter Moloney’s artefacts are a ‘gem of a collection’.

“I am old enough to remember the events and the locations included in this fantastic collection,” he said. “Indeed, the artefacts are so important to the city as ‘a resource in every sense.’

“In a non-judgemental way, we can look back and be fascinated by the tapestry of material included in this collection.”

Jim O’Hagan, Chief Executive of LibrariesNI, said he was delighted to be involved with the “Peter Moloney Partnership” and was really looking forward to “promoting it for years to come.”

Robin Percival, chair of the Bloody Sunday Trust, said that the Museum of Free Derry was ‘over the moon’ that Peter had made his comprehensive collection of nearly 50,000 items available – not least for younger generations.

“At the Museum of Free Derry, we welcome young people from across Ireland.

“They want to know about their own history. Peter’s donation will, therefore, enhance the experience for our young people. It is a tremendous resource for education.”

The collection was recently physically transported to Derry from Peter’s home in Camden, London, and is now under the care of the Tower Museum.

The Tower Museum is working in partnership with LibrariesNI and the Museum of Free Derry to develop a programme of activities to highlight the significance of the collection and create access to it for a diverse range of audiences.

Already, LibrariesNI have agreed to take custodianship of the 2,000 books and 3,000 journals which Peter has collected over the years – making these available as a reference collection that will be accessible to the general public.

Peter added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank my family and friends who have assisted me with the collecting process over many years.

“I would also like to pay tribute to LibrariesNI for the invigorating and exciting conversations I have had with them when initially considering donating my collection.”

On Tuesday, April 10 at 7pm, Peter will deliver a talk at the Tower Museum highlighting aspects of the collection from an insider point of view and recounting some tales of his travails while collecting items during ‘troubled times’.

The event is free and places can be booked by contacting Tower Museum on Tel: 028 71372411.