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.
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.
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.