New home sought for historic Northern Ireland collection

The largest known private collection of memorabilia charting the bloody history of the North is being offered free to a good home.

Despite spending most of his life building up the remarkable, 38,000-item archive, retired London-based architect Peter Moloney wants to hand it over to a suitable institution that can preserve it.

The often unsettling record of the recent conflict — including political propaganda, pamphlets, and posters — has already attracted interest from world-class museums, such as London’s Victoria and Albert.

However, Mr Moloney, 63, the son of Irish emigrants who painstakingly gathered the memorabilia from the age of 15, said he would like the collection to be onpublic view in Ireland.

“I would like to think it would be a motivator for peace and reconciliationand common understanding,” he said.

“Some of the pieces half of the community will hate and others the other halfwill hate. Some will be shocked and some will even cry over them. But we have to face our past to make sure we don’t go there again.”

Among the memorabilia are more than 3,000 political journals, 2,000 books, 15,500 images of banners and murals, 2,000 posters, and 1,000 badges, as well as cartoons and stickers.

Earliest pieces include an 1886 leaflet about a London gathering for Home Ruleand postcards of the 1916 Easter Rising.

Most of the collection dates from the North’s civil rights movement in the1960s up to the early years of the peace process.

There are artefacts from Bloody Sunday, the hunger strikes, peace initiatives,campaigns against plastic bullets, internment, extradition, and the Prevention ofTerrorism Act.

Mr Moloney, whose father is from Co Clare and mother from Derry, was born in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and raised in London. He lectured widely in Britain, Europe and the US on the conflict and started his collection originally as ameans of illustrating his talks. “Then I just became fascinated because some of the images were so powerful,” he said.


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