“Those Are Real Bullets is a sad but instructive tale about the way in which centuries of inertia, as well as a modern failure of political imagination, was responsible for this tragedy. . . . A powerful indictment of the dead hand of history that lies so heavily on Northern Ireland.”Anthony Day, Los Angeles Times
Those Are Real Bullets
Bloody Sunday, Derry, 1972
978-0-8021-3879-8 • $16.00 • Paperback • Mar. 2002
At dusk on January 30, 1972, Barney McGuigan lay on the pavement in a pool of his own blood and brains, his head blown open by a paratrooper’s bullet. Peggy Deery was near death in the hospital, the back of her leg torn away. Frantic relatives searched the morgue for their loved ones.
On that day, known ever since as Bloody Sunday, British paratroopers opened fire on unarmed Irish Catholic demonstrators in Derry, killing thirteen and wounding another fourteen. Five were shot in the back. A crucial turning point in the recent history of Northern Ireland, the killings galvanized Catholics in their struggle against the British presence in Ulster. A formal inquiry immediately after Bloody Sunday exonerated the British soldiers, despite hundreds of eyewitness accounts that none of the victims were armed, and left many questions unanswered. Now, for the first time, here is the definitive account of what actually happened on that day.
In Those Are Real Bullets, veteran journalists Peter Pringle and Philip Jacobson reconstruct the escalation of the Northern Irish conflict from nonviolent demonstrations to rubber bullets and tear gas to live, high-velocity rounds. They introduce each of the victims, men like McGuigan, who was not an IRA gunman, or even a young stone-throwing rioter. Forty-one years old and the father of six, McGuigan was killed when he went to the aid of Paddy Doherty, a young man who had been shot from behind while crawling on the sidewalk to avoid the gunfire. The authors also take us behind the lines of the British paratroopers, showing how the army’s steady escalation of brutality in Northern Ireland led inevitably to the violence in Derry.
Offering a gripping and harrowing narrative, Those Are Real Bullets provides an intimate portrait of a city in revolt and powerful insight into the full human impact of the tragedy. It also places the day in the larger historical context of the Troubles and is essential to understanding how the failed military response plunged Northern Ireland into three decades of conflict.