The Museum of Free Derry was set by the Bloody Sunday Trust up to tell the story of events that occurred in and impacted on the ‘Free Derry’ community in the latter part of the 1960s and early part of the 1970s. These were momentous events that shaped the city and also impacted greatly across the north and internationally, playing a major role in shaping the years that followed.
We built the museum in order to help our own community to come to terms with their own history, and to help others to understand what this community experienced. We hope that this will act as an encouragement to other communities to do the same, and will then be an even greater input into the ongoing and vital debate on how we remember and deal with our recent troubled past. It is a core belief behind MoFD that we must deal properly with our recent history, not only as a means of recording and presenting it as history, but also as a means of reconciliation. The diverse perceptions of history in the north have always been a cause of friction and distrust between the various communities, and we believe that the best way to resolve this is not by trying to create a single, compromised and sanitised history, which takes something away from everyone involved, but by encouraging all the different communities to tell their own stories in their own way so that others can come to see them, and then hopefully understand and acknowledge their legitimacy.
The permanent exhibition in the Museum of Free Derry, which re-opened in February 2017 after a major overhaul, now covers a brief background history of the Bogside, the experience of what was to become the Free Derry area under the discrimination of the Unionist government at Stormont, the reaction to that oppression, which took shape during the 1960s when people in Derry and across the north took to the streets to demand equality and change, the violent reaction of the Stormont government and others to those demands, Free Derry and the Battle of the Bogside, the re-introduction of the British army to the streets of the north, the descent into war, internment, the massacre of Bloody Sunday and Operation Motorman, the military invasion of Free Derry and the vindication of the Bloody Sunday families’ campaign with the publication of the Saville Report in 2010.
Sought Outcomes for OTP’19
The Museum of Free Derry is a museum about the struggle for civil rights. For many, this means the struggle in the 1960s for equality in voting, housing and jobs, but we are always trying to remind people that this is a struggle that is not yet over, and that there are many civil rights struggles still happening around us today. One such is the LGBT struggle for full equality here. Our reason for involvement in OTP19 is to help further communicate this message, and to remind people that this is all one struggle, from the 1960s to now, for equality for everyone.
The Museum of Free Derry reopened in February 2017 in a new, purpose-built building. The new building houses the permanent exhibition and reception facilities on the ground floor, which will be open for those attending the event organized as part of OTP19. On the first floor we have a multi-use space which can hold up to 60 or 70 people for a speaking event, but is also designed for film shows, temporary exhibitions etc. How it will be used for OTP19 will be decided in the coming months.
The museum is located in the Bogside, just a few minutes’ walk from Derry city centre, and an easy distance from all local amenities such as the bus station, car parks, hotels, shopping, restaurants etc. There is no dedicated parking at the museum, and visitors are generally encouraged to use city centre parking, though there may be some parking directly outside on the day of this event.
The building is fully accessible, with disabled access toilets, lift etc