Page last updated at 07:30 GMT, Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Safe home for iconic image of Bloody Sunday

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Handkerchief waved by Bishop Daly as the body of Jackie Duddy was carried to safety on Bloody Sunday
The handkerchief is now on display at the Museum of Free Derry

It is an iconic images of the Troubles.

The hunched figure of Father - now Bishop - Edward Daly waves a white handkerchief as he attempts to escort marchers carrying the fatally injured Jackie Duddy away from the gunfire during Bloody Sunday.

The 17-year-old was the first person to die that day, and the handkerchief - which had been used to staunch his bleeding - was later returned to Jackie's family along with his clothes.

Kept safe by his family for almost 40 years, it was presented to the Museum of Free Derry by his sister Kay on Friday.

"After Jackie's death it was given to my father, William, and he had it until he died in 1985.

"Since then I've had proud charge of it," said Kay.

For the last 20 years, Kay has carried the handkerchief everywhere with her in her handbag.

"I always called it my comfort blanket," she said.

"I had it with me during the Saville Inquiry, and it was reassuring to me to have it with me.

"It was as if some of Jackie was still there."

It was as if some of Jackie was still there
Kay Duddy

Kay said she had always intended to donate the handkerchief to the museum once the Saville report was published.

"I always had it in the back of my mind that once we had the report, that was the time to do it.

"I was on my way to Mass just after Christmas, and someone tried to mug me.

"He pushed me, and made a grab for my bag, but I held onto it.

"I was so shook up - it was the thought that if he had succeeded in taking my bag, the handkerchief would have been lost forever.

"So that was kind of a wake-up call," she said.

"I had to balance out the feeling I would have of being without it, with the knowledge that it was in safekeeping and in its rightful place.

"With hindsight, I probably should have done it years ago."

Mural, Bogside, Derry
The iconic image now forms one of the murals in Derry's Bogside

The handkerchief was presented to the museum on Friday.

"Bishop Daly was there, and he told me he had found it quite moving when he discovered I still had the handkerchief, that it was still in existence.

"It still has his name on it, where his mother had embroidered it because they had a shared laundry in the seminary."

"It's just such an iconic part of Bloody Sunday - it tells the story," said Kay.

The museum's manager, Adrian Kerr, said he was delighted to have the handkerchief on display.

"Everybody knows that image.

"It's one of the most iconic images not just of Bloody Sunday, but of the last 40 years, and it is incredible to have something relating to it.

"It is also one of the key artefacts in telling the story of Bloody Sunday," he said.

"People are particularly surprised it's still in existence - I think they are surprised it's survived for so long.

"It's a strange set of coincidences that left it with the Duddy family, but I'm constantly surprised by what does survive.

"That's why it's so important to have a museum like the Museum of Free Derry.

"Our feet are well within the community, because we're using the community's own artefacts to tell their story," he said.

Last weekend marked the 37th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, and Kay Duddy believes the handkerchief's place in the museum is something her brother would have approved of.

"If he's watching up there, he'd say it's where it should be," she said.

"All we want now, what we're hoping against hope for, is truth and justice from the Saville Report.

"For the last 37 years Jackie has had the stigma that he was a petrol bomber attached to him.

"It's so important that's removed. As I always say, the world and his mother has to know, and that stigma has to be removed - for all the families," she said.

"Jackie was buried 37 years ago, but he hasn't been laid to rest."

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