Curator's Choice: Paul Doherty on the belt worn by his father on Bloody Sunday

Paul Doherty interviewed by Mark Sheerin | 02 April 2013

Curator's Choice: Guide Paul Doherty chooses a bullet scarred belt from the Museum of Free Derry in Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland...

Colour photo of a gallery guide in front of a glass case
Paul Doherty together with his father's belt (top left)© Culture24
“I’m a taxi driver as well as a tour guide with the Free Derry Tours which goes from the museum here.

I’ve been doing it for more than a year now and I find when people find out you were one of the people who was actually affected by Bloody Sunday, and by the conflict in general here, they feel like they’re getting...not value for money, but a first-hand experience of someone who was affected by that.

They seem to enjoy it and I sort of enjoy what I’m doing as well, telling the story. Actually it sort of helps you, you know - it’s good to tell the story as part of the tour, because it’s very interesting for people coming here and listening.

Here we’re looking at my father, Patrick Doherty. It’s his belt. It’s a belt that was given to the museum by my mum some years ago.

It’s the one my father was actually wearing on the day, and you can see, at the top of the centre, where the bullet went into his lower back and the bullet then travelled through his body and came out through his heart.

My dad was 32 years of age. He worked in Dupont, here in Derry. He was a very firm supporter of the civil rights objective and he was a very firm supporter of the anti-internment movement as well.

So he went on the march that day with my mum. They got separated some way along the road and he ended up at the area of the Rosswell Street flats. And that’s where he actually lost his life on the day. So he was actually the second-last person to be murdered.

I was eight two days after Bloody Sunday and I had an older sister who was 11. I also had two brothers of ten and nine, and my younger brother, who was seven months old. My sister was nearly three.

So obviously they don’t remember anything about it. I have some memories of the day but not a terrible lot.

I just remember my parents leaving and I remember me ma coming back and bringing the news. When she came back to break the news the house was already packed with people who’d obviously heard what had happened, a lot of relatives and friends as well.

So I can vividly remember that: her coming back and she actually addressed my sister and told my sister what happened and, aye, it’s been hard over the years but you learn to live with it.

It took a lot of families a long time to come to terms with their grief. It was only after the 20th anniversary when we got together, at the end of the Bloody Sunday justice campaign, which ended with the Saville Inquiry and so on. A lot of the families have stayed very strong over the years.

When our loved ones were murdered, they couldn’t fight for themselves. But the families were left behind. In my opinion it took a lot of the families up to 20 years to really come to terms and get the strength to start the campaign.

The museum is a very, very good idea. It tells the story from the civil rights era right up to Bloody Sunday, so it’s good for people to come in and see the visual artefacts, as well as reading all about the victims and what happened on the day and so on.

It's become very, very popular. You’ve probably heard it’s being expanded over the next 12 months, so it’s a good time to head here. The museum’s going to be here for a very, very long time.”

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