St. Finian's Community College

5th and 6th year students visit Derry

Our 5th and 6th year students got a wonderful tour around Derry as part of their History and Politics & Society class.
5th and 6th year students visit Derry

Last month Ms Atkins and Ms Sinnott took the fifth and sixth year History and Politics & Society classes to the city of Derry. Derry is the birthplace of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement. The focus of the tour was the Bogside, where rioting broke out in August 1969, marking the beginning of the 30-year-long conflict known as 'The Troubles'. It was also the site of Bloody Sunday, where in January 1972 fourteen people were killed and fourteen injured by the British Army’s Parachute Regiment during a peaceful march against internment.

First on our itinerary was a visit to the Museum of “Free Derry”, located in the heart of the Bogside. It was out of growing frustration and anger at police brutality and the lack of change that in January 1969 inhabitants of the Bogside dubbed the area “Free Derry”, declaring it a no-go area for police.

At the museum, students were given a first-hand account of life in the Bogside during this turbulent period. Our guide was the brother of one of the victims of Bloody Sunday, and he explained what life was like for his family and other Bogsiders on either side of the atrocity. Students also learned about how family members campaigned for many years to have the soldiers responsible for the killings prosecuted for their crimes.

The second part of the trip was a walking tour of the Bogside, which was given by the family member of another Bloody Sunday victim. Students were able to see the route taken by marchers and where the victims were shot by the members of the Parachute Regiment.

Students also saw the many murals which help to commemorate the atrocity and tell the story of what happened that day. We also visited the gable wall where the iconic slogan “You are now entering Free Derry” was written in January 1969.

Our guide placed these events within the wider context of the Troubles. The history of Northern Ireland is a core part of the Leaving Certificate History course and as such the tour enabled students to deepen their understanding of material studied. The tour also dealt with core themes covered by the Politics and Society course, such as government and policing, the justice system, civil rights, protest, social reform, peace and conflict resolution.

Our walking tour culminated at the memorial commemorating the victims of Bloody Sunday and the work of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). This is a poignant reminder of the tragic loss of life on that day and over the course of the Troubles, but also reminds us of the need to preserve peace among the people of Northern Ireland. Our guide finished by telling us about the impact of the Good Friday Agreement, which secured a peaceful settlement to the conflict and brought hope to the people of Derry.

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