Author discusses Bloody Sunday

John Bloor

Don Mullan, an Irish author and eyewitness to the events of Bloody Sunday, spoke to students and faculty in the Connelly Cinema last Monday.

Mullan, who was born to Catholic parents in Derry, Northern Ireland, grew up in a turbulent time in Irish history.

“I hope to educate students about an important event in modern Irish history that I have personally witnessed,” he said.

Bloody Sunday occurred on the afternoon of Jan. 30, 1972. An estimated 20,000 people marched through the streets of Derry in peaceful protest against internment, a policy by which people suspected of paramilitary activities were arrested and detained without trial.

The protest turned violent as British paratroopers opened fire on the crowd, killing 13 Catholic marchers and wounding 14 others.

Mullan, then a 15-year-old boy, took part in the march and witnessed the violence first-hand. In a photograph of the tragedy, he can be seen kneeling over the body of a man killed by the paratroopers.

The tragedy and, more importantly, the way British officials described it in the official inquiry caused a number of young Irishmen to join the armed resistance to the partition of Ireland. Mullan himself was too young to join the movement but said, “If I was 17 instead of 15, my life probably would have taken a turn.”

Instead, Mullan continued his involvement with the Northern Ireland Civil Rights movement and now works to further civil and human rights issues both in Ireland and abroad.

He currently works as a freelance journalist and writer, has authored several books, and co-produced “Bloody Sunday,” a film which won the Audience Award at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival.

His acclaimed bestseller, “Eyewitness Bloody Sunday,” helped launch a new inquiry into the event of Jan. 30, 1972, intending to present an accurate and unbiased record of the tragedy.

Kevin McCarthy, A&S ’04, was responsible for inviting Mullan to campus. As a member of the Irish Cultural Society executive board, he contacted Mullan, who agreed to visit on his next trip to the United States.

Mullan visited the University a few days after presenting his latest documentary in New York, titled “An Unreliable Witness.”

“With so many members of the student body being of Irish descent, we were very fortunate to have someone as knowledgeable and personable as Don,” McCarthy says, “He’s a man whose life experiences are not only extraordinary but historical. His storytelling ability is that of a true Irishman.”