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Memoir of Bloody Sunday victim's son hailed by TV writer McGovern

By Donna Deeney

The creator of hit TV series Cracker and The Lakes has described a poignant memoir written by a man whose father was killed on Bloody Sunday as "profoundly moving".

Tony Doherty's father Patrick was among those killed on January 31, 1972, and his new book describes his childhood leading up to the day that changed his life.

This Man's Wee Boy will be launched tomorrow evening by Jimmy McGovern, who was also behind the drama Sunday, telling the story of one of the city's darkest days.

Written from the perspective of the young boy he was at the time, Mr Doherty's book covers life in the Brandywell in Derry where he grew up from 1967 to 1972, as well as the funerals of the 13 people killed on Bloody Sunday by the British Army.

It is this final chapter that gives the book its title, and Mr Doherty still find the memories hard to bear.

"This is a chapter of the book I will never be able to read, and to write it I had to keep it at arm's-length, because recalling the details took me right back to that time - and the memories were and are too painful," he said.

"It was only through talking to my sisters and brothers that I was able to tell the story in its entirety because between us we had blocked so much out.

"I began the chapter with trepidation because I knew how it would affect me, and when it was done I deliberately left it to others to edit."

Mr Doherty documented and collated his memories into a draft version of the book and sent it off to in an email to Mercier Press late on a Monday evening.

By 10.30am the following day the publishers contacted him to say they loved what he had written.

The publishing house was not alone, as McGovern was equally impressed. He described This Man's Wee Boy as "a wonderful memoir. So simple, so truthful and, at the end, so profoundly moving".

Mr Doherty said: "I didn't want to write the book as an adult and I was able to recall in great detail what life growing up in the streets of the Brandywell was like when I was a young boy.

"I remember the time we moved house from Moore Street to Hamilton Street with great clarity even though I would only have been around five years old.

"The ceiling in our house fell in so we had to move, and it was John Hume who got us the house in Hamilton Street. I remember seeing him in the street and shouting over to him: 'Hi, are you John Hume, are you getting us a new house?'

"And I remember the day we moved and a whole procession of weans going from Moore Street to Hamilton Street with our stuff, like kettles, pillows, all kinds of small stuff.

"I remember, too, very clearly my first experience of death which was when a young friend of mine, Damien Harkin, was knocked down by a British Army lorry.

"My father sat me down with the paper the day after, and I think it was the evening edition of the Tele, and showed me Damien's photograph and I remember saying: 'What's Damien Harkin doing in the paper?'"

McGovern will be guest of honour at the launch tomorrow, which takes place at Long Tower Primary School at 7pm.

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