28 Sept 2022

Bloody Sunday: 'The British State allowed or ordered its soldiers to murder its citizens, that has never left me'

Eamonn Lynch: Bloody Sunday eyewitness

Knights of Malta putting casualty in ambulance. Liam Curley in Jacket and Bernard Feeney in Knights of Malta uniform

Knights of Malta putting casualty in ambulance. Liam Curley in Jacket and Bernard Feeney in Knights of Malta uniform

On the day of Bloody Sunday, Eamonn Lynch, grandparents James and Mary Lynch from Buncrana and Hugh and Alice Feeney from Ture, was 18.

Eamonn joined the march as it was making it's way to its planned destination, Derry's Guildhall Square.

Eamonn recalled: “We suddenly noticed we could not get through at William Street, which had obviously been blocked off [by the British army].

“At that, the march was re-routed to Free Derry Corner, which left a residue of about two or three hundred young people, of which I was one, who wanted to let the British army know they were not welcome. I was involved in the riot, which went on for an hour or maybe a bit more.

“Around 4pm, all of a sudden, the British army broke through their own barricade and came after us. I was fairly near the front of the riot, so, my nearest escape was Chamberlain Street. I turned left off William Street into Chamberlain Street, with the intention of running through to the Rossville flats' courtyard.

“As I was running up there, coming to the end of Chamberlain Street, I heard shots being fired and I knew straight away they were British army shots. The SLR was a very distinctive sound and I heard it many, many times.

“My immediate thought was taking cover. At that courtyard, there was a wall you jumped down to, with only a small bit, a parapet that looked out on the courtyard. I jumped into there and got shelter from the shooting.

“There was a lull in the shooting and I sat there. There was a guy who was not with me but who I knew beside me who was doing the same run as me. During the lull, I heard a voice shouting and I put my head gingerly above the parapet. I saw a guy across the courtyard and I recognised him. He was called Mickey Bridge.

“I did not know Mickey personally but I knew him from seeing him in Derry. He was a boxer. He was was a few years older than me, so I had a certain amount of respect for him. He was shouting and pointing and shouting at the British army, 'You bastards. You shot that young fella' or words to that effect.

“I looked and I saw the body lying that he was pointing at. I did not know at the time but it turned out to be young Jackie Duddy. As he shouted at the army, a shot rang out and Mickey fell. It turned out, Mickey was wounded in the leg.

“So, I got back below the parapet obviously. That was an awful thing, no-one was able to help anyone. If I had run out, I was just going to be shot.

“We waited a while, then we thought, 'Right, let's get out of the Rossville Street flats' because the shooting seemed to have stopped then. We got over towards Free Derry Corner, then over towards the Bogside Inn and eventually I got home. I lived in Bishop Street, we had a bar in Bishop's Street.

“When I got home, I went out into the bar. My dad was ill at the time but he always used to sit and watch RTÉ out in the bar. He was watching the news and he filled me in that there were a number of people killed and I told him what I had witnessed and I became aware that what I witnessed was only a small part of what happened.

“And it was only years later, I actually managed to join up the dots between what I witnessed with Mickey Bridge, the body and the white handkerchief story with Fr Daly and the other three or four people who were there, helping to get young Duddy , who died on the way to hospital, that was Jackie Duddy and where he was shot.

“The day after, it was as if, automatically, I was drawn done to the Bogside again and when I went there, everyone seemed to have been drawn there. There was this deafening silence.

"People were just walking around stunned in small groups. There was something eerie about that and yet, it was like we were coming together to pay homage, because at that stage, we were becoming aware of what had actually happened.

“It was not unusual to hear of people getting shot by the British army. In 1971, Seamus Cusack and Dessie Beattie were shot and I witnessed the shooting of Billy McGreanery, all innocent people, but to be shot in those numbers, during a march, in full view of everyone was the unusual thing.

“The State was allowing or ordering its soldiers to murder its citizens, soldiers paid by taxpayers, that has never ever left me.”

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