A new social media page where residents of Creggan, past and present, share fond memories of the estate has attracted a huge amount of interest.
Creator, Tony McCourt, 71, said a similar Facebook page exists for the Brandywell area so he felt it was only right to set one up for Creggan.
Within a day it had 1,700 members and less than a week later it has amassed over 7,000.
Built in the 1950s, Creggan is one of Derry’s best-known estates. It has been home to an abundance of artistic and sporting talent, including Olympic athletes, a Eurovision winner, a Top Ten rock band and international footballers.
In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Creggan became a byword for political resistance all over the world.
On the Memories of Creggan Facebook page, people have been sharing cherished photos of relatives, historically significant portraits of the Troubles, images of friends playing on the street, tales of famed characters from the estate, all sorts of myths and legends true and untrue, and everything in between.
Former Creggan residents who have emigrated all over the world, including those from America and Australia, have joined the page to reminisce and share old tales from their childhood.
“Everybody is enjoying it,” Tony explained, “they’re all sharing old memories.”
Friends contacted Tony to tell him that they can’t get their mothers off the page, one of the ladies is 92-years-old and is “loving all the old photos so much”.
He added: “They’ve said they’re getting no housework done and no wains are being watched because they’re all too busy on the page. People are talking about their schooldays and friends who haven’t been in touch for many years are reconnecting.”
Tony spent most of his childhood in Creggan and lived there until he got married at the age of 25. His brother, Peggy, still lives in Creggan and Tony has happy memories of “great neighbours and friends”.
“The page brings back good memories. Nobody had anything but everybody shared what they had with each other.”
The Troubles were never far from peoples’ minds, and people had their own troubles, but Tony prefers to recall the joyful times.
“There was a lot of heartbreak at that time. But I like to remember all the positive experiences I had growing up. Playing football in the street all day when there were barely any cars around.
“I remember the first TV on the street, it was the Kennedy’s and we used to go in to watch the FA Cup final. I also remember watching Popeye and the Lone Ranger.
“I had a bad leg at one time and I remember a friend of mines carrying me to Grianan Fort and back again.”
Moving forward, Tony would simply like to see people use the page in a positive way. “There are no real rules, we’re just asking people to keep it clean and to refrain from any insults.
“Everyone is finding it funny going through all the old photos and that’s what it’s all about.”
With that said Tony was off to the attic to unearth a few more boxes of photographic treasures from his boyhood.
Peggy McCourt has lived in Creggan Heights for sixty-two years, asked what the estate means to him, he proclaimed: “Creggan means community.”
He explained: “It was tight-knit no one had very much but what they had they shared be it a cup of milk to a drop of sugar, or can you lend me ma three slices of bread.
“We all grew up in the Creggan, most of the families came from the Springtown Camp so hardship was a way of life but they made sure their wains were fed and watered, even going without themselves.
“Then came the civil rights movement, then a full-blown war on the streets but again the Creggan community rallied around those who were affected by the conflict.
“So many young people were first interned just because they were Catholic, many were arrested, put though interrogation centres and ended up in prison.”
Peggy continued: “The hunger strikes took their toll on many families but no matter what went on Creggan grew into the best estate in Derry – in the world.
“Growing up was hard at the time we lost so many friends and family members but it was a fun place to grow up, friendships formed that still last to this day. The friends I had sixty odd years ago are as strong as when we first met.
“No video games, all street games, football, rounders, even cricket, hopscotch, all these plus many more sitting out till 9 or 10 telling ghost stories, then you ran home the living day lights scared out of you.
“Creggan is more than a council estate, it's a way of life, it's in your blood, we don’t even have to look anywhere for heroes, Creggan is full of them they are called ma’s and da’s.”
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