Sunday 19 November 2017

Collector seeks good home for 38,000 items in Troubles archive

A postcard depicting unionist opposition to Home Rule. Photo: PA
A postcard depicting unionist opposition to Home Rule. Photo: PA
A UDA poster from 1975
A French poster supporting republicans in Northern Ireland.
Peter Maloney

Brian Hutton

THE largest-known private collection of memorabilia charting the bloody history of Northern Ireland is being offered free to a good home.

Despite spending most of his life building up the remarkable 38,000-item archive, retired London-based architect Peter Moloney wants to hand it over to a suitable institution that can preserve it.

The often unsettling record of the recent conflict – including political propaganda, pamphlets and posters – has already attracted interest from world-class museums, such as London's Victoria and Albert.

But Mr Moloney (63), who painstakingly gathered the memorabilia from the age of 15, said he would like it to be on public view in Ireland.

"I would like to think it would be a motivator for peace and reconciliation and common understanding," he said.

"We have to face our past to make sure we don't go there again."

Born in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and raised in London, Mr Moloney lectured widely in the UK, Europe and the US on the conflict and started his collection originally as a means of illustrating his talks.

"Then I just became fascinated because some of the images were so powerful," he said. "I thought it was important that I get my hands on as much of it as possible to try and safeguard it."

Among the pieces are more than 3,000 political journals, 2,000 books, 15,500 images of banners and murals, 2,000 posters and 1,000 badges.

It has become so large, and with some artefacts under threat of disintegrating, he has decided it needs a permanent home with professionals looking after it.

London's Victoria and Albert is borrowing some of it for an exhibition called 'Disobedient Objects', while other items are on loan to a show touring Ireland by Healing Through Remembering.

Mr Moloney hopes the collection will eventually be preserved in Derry. His father is from Co Clare and mother is from Derry.

Earliest items include an 1886 leaflet about a London gathering for Home Rule and postcards of the 1916 Easter Rising.

But most of the collection dates from the North's civil rights movement in the 1960s up to the early years of the peace process.

Irish Independent

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