The Museum of Free Derry is an innovative and challenging project, and an integral part of Ireland’s radical and civil rights heritage. It tells the story of how a largely working class community rose up against the years of oppression they had endured, and how they suffered for their resistance.

Bloody Sunday and The Museum of Free Derry

The museum tells the story of Bloody Sunday, the day when the British Army committed mass murder in the streets of the Bogside. It tells the story of how the people of Derry, led by the families of those killed and the wounded, challenged and largely overcame that injustice in a campaign that has become an inspiration throughout the world. It tells the story of others who are still campaigning for the same truth.

The Museum is a public space where the concept of Free Derry can be explored in both historic and contemporary contexts.  Free Derry is about our future as much as it is about our past. The struggle of Free Derry is part of the wider struggle in Ireland and internationally for freedom and equality for all.

Civil rights and Derry

The civil rights movement in Ireland has its deepest roots in Derry. It was here on 5 October 1968 that the issue of civil rights in the north first came to the attention of the world when the police attacked a peaceful demonstration in Duke Street. It was here that the first no go area was declared in January 1969, when the defiant slogan ‘You Are Now Entering Free Derry’ appeared on a gable wall in the Bogside. 

It was here on 30 January 1972, Bloody Sunday, that 14 unarmed demonstrators were shot dead and 14 others injured by the British army in the streets around this building.

Dedication

In taking on the might of the state, the powerless challenged the way that things had always been and dared to dream a different world where justice, equality and freedom were the entitlement of all. In this museum and archive rests part of their legacy. Their epitaph is the continuing struggle for democracy. This museum is dedicated to all who have struggled and suffered for civil rights everywhere. 

  • Early Map of Derry

    The Bogside

    The history of the Bogside has been characterised by the relationship between two communities – one within the walls, safe, secure and powerful; one without, powerless, dispossessed and oppressed.

  • Protesters stage a sit-down protest in Ferryquay Street, November 1968

    Civil Rights

    In 1955, Rosa Parks refused to sit at the back of a bus in Birmingham, Alabama. In 1957, the National Guard had to escort nine black schoolchildren past racist protestors in Little Rock, Arkansas. In March 1960, 60 black anti-apartheid protestors were shot dead in Sharpeville, South Africa.

  • The original hand-painted slogan, January 1969

    Free Derry

    A slogan taken from a Berkeley University sit-in was written on a gable wall: ‘You Are Now Entering Free Derry’. Radio Free Derry broadcast from Rossville Street Flats. Free Derry was born.

  • Battle of the Bogside

    On 12 August, thousands of Apprentice Boys prepared to march through a Derry seething with anxiety and discontent.

    As the march passed the Bogside, it was greeted by jeering and stone throwing. The police, backed by loyalists, tried to force the protesters back.

  • Towards War

    By April 1970, when Derry Republicans commemorated the Easter Rising, clashes between young people and the British army had become a daily occurrence.

  • British Army raid into Free Derry.

    Internment & Free Derry

    As violence spiralled, the British Government, pressed by unionist leaders at Stormont, introduced internment without trial. The measure had been used against Republicans in every decade since the foundation of the state.