Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

It's the biggest private Troubles collection – and he's giving it away

Peter Moloney with just some of the 38,000 pieces of memorabilia he has collected over the last 45 years

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

After 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.

Mr Moloney (63), the son of Irish emigrants who gathered the memorabilia from the age of 15, said he would like the collection to be on public view in Ireland.

There are more than 3,000 political journals, 2,000 books, 15,500 images of banners and murals, 2,000 posters and 1,000 badges, cartoons and stickers.

Earliest pieces include an 1886 leaflet about a London gathering for Home Rule.

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

There are artefacts from Bloody Sunday, the hunger strikes, peace initiatives, campaigns against plastic bullets and internment.

There is also an old Irish 10p stamped by the UDA as part of a loyalist sabotage campaign on the Republic's currency, Ulster Says No lighters and Orange Order Christmas decorations.

Born in Buncrana, Co Donegal, to a father from Clare and a mother from Londonderry, and raised in London, he lectured widely in Europe and the US on the conflict.

Since 1969 he has made pilgrimages to Ireland every year to gather mementoes.

The labour of love was not without its dangers. The father-of-two was hauled in for questioning by special branch detectives dozens of times as he returned to London with additions to his archive.

"They were a bit confused, wondering what side is this guy on," he recalls. "And a confused branch man is a rare animal to deal with.

"I would prefer it to be in the north of Ireland and preferably Derry, as Belfast already has the Linen Hall (collection)."

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