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'It was never the same after Army killed mum'

Published 19/05/2016

Kathleen Thompson’s children, Patricia Murphy, Erne and Minty Thompson
Kathleen Thompson’s children, Patricia Murphy, Erne and Minty Thompson
A treasured portrait of Kathleen, killed in 1971

Patricia Murphy's mother Kathleen Thompson was shot dead by soldiers in her back garden in Londonderry in November 1971 as her six children slept inside.

The Army initially claimed they had killed a gunman. It is believed Patricia was banging her bin lid to alert neighbours to the Army's presence in the area.

"Mum put us to bed that night. I was wakened with the commotion in the house. My daddy was sitting on the stairs sobbing. We had our nightdresses on. We were taken to an aunt's house. The next day we were told my mother was dead.

"We went back to school, to dancing classes and piano. My father tried to keep everything as normal as possible, but it was never the same.

"There was no mammy in our house anymore. It was tough for my daddy when we were moving on, leaving home, and he still was (locked) in that night.

"He never was the same man after it.

"There had always been laughter in our house, always music.

"My mother loved the radio. She knew every Beatles song. She loved her style, she loved her culture.

"She was a devout Catholic. She was at Mass every day but she had a great spirit. Had she lived, she probably would have pushed us to do more with ourselves.

"She always said, 'Education costs nothing to carry'.

"I have moved out of the house 34 years, yet, passing, I still won't look into that part of the garden."

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