On Saturday past (11th June) the families met to mull over artefacts we have for exhibition and plans to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the McGurk’s Bar Massacre on 4th December 2011.

Everything was brought to the table: hand-carved Celtic crosses, opinions, much-loved photographs, old newspaper clippings, concepts and, of course, many, many now-not-so-secret archives. Brainstorming is out – so we were told – and idea showers are in.    

Gerard Keenan, who lost his mother and father, Sarah and Edward, in the blast had not only devised an idea for a mural but also engaged one of Ireland’s top muralists for the job.

An old photograph of McGurk’s Bar, kindly offered from the McGurk family archives and pictured right, will be our guide. Our canvas we hope will be the grubby cement under and to the side of the North Queen Street flyover. We intend to bring the facade of the pub back to the street and include simple porcelain portraits of our family members. There will be a small plaque as a tribute but no statements as we know better than most how people on all sides can draw back into their tribes if words are viewed as partisan.

The doors of this meeting were thrown open to the public and, thankfully as it turned out, a local councillor, Conor Maskey, attended. The poor fella was bombarded with questions and requests. He left with a to-do-list to boot and promptly phoned the following business day when he could follow-up what we sought.

So we have had to professionalize and formalize the unit as funding will have to be sought to action these plans. We have voted a chair, secretary and treasurer from the families who will have their hands full managing such a strong-willed and vocal bunch of campaigners.

I will have to take a back-step from all this work over the next four months if I want to realize what I have planned for the 40th Anniversary. If you want to know what these plans are…

You should come to the next planned public meeting in July 2011 (details to follow).

Bring your memories, artefacts, opinions or ideas. All are welcome.

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