Looking at my last few posts, Dublin has been the focus, which makes it seem like that was the only place we went. However, we traveled all over the Republic of Ireland and went to Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, I got to interact with and see so many of the political murals, and one that really stuck with me was The Death of Innocence: Annette McGavigan. This mural is located on Rossville Street in the Bogside of Derry. The photo to the right here is a photo of the mural as it is today (or more accurately as it was when I took the picture during our walking tour).
Annette McGavigan was only fourteen years old when she was shot in the back of her head as she was running from a riot; she was the one hundredth victim of The Troubles (Irish Studies). She is the namesake and subject of the mural, The Death of Innocence.
Throughout my studies during our semester before travel, we learned a lot about The Troubles. We read Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane (which I recommend). We also watched Bloody Sunday and Hunger. In other words, I knew about the violence, the pain, the links to African-American Civil Rights; however, walking those same streets, hearing the personal stories from our walking guide and museum guide (another must-see is the Free Museum of Derry), seeing the clothing and personal items of the victims, I felt as I didn’t know enough.
It was also at this time that I had just learned about yet another shooting that had happened back home (in the States). So, as you can imagine, I was a bit emotional. It was on this same walk that I saw this mural, The Death of Innocence. In the mural, “the girl, deliberately standing in what the artists considered an innocent pose, is a representation of all the children who have been killed during the Troubles, both Protestant and Catholic. Her shirt is the lightest color in the mural and her arms are angled in, both serving to draw the viewer’s eye to her first. She stands out in front of the debris, separated from her turbulent environment” (Irish Studies). Later on, changes were made to the mural. “The gun in the mural, which takes up the entire length, was painted broken and is an important symbol of the renouncement of violence. The gun is also boxed off from the girl, separated from the rest of the mural. The mural also includes a crucifix in the right corner and a butterfly in the left. Both are symbols of resurrection. The butterfly was originally left unfinished to signify how far the peace process still had to come” (Irish Studies). You can see what the mural initially looked like to the left on David Lansing’s website.
Lansing, David. “The Death of Innocence: Annette McGavigan”. davidlansing.com. 8 July 2013. http://davidlansing.com/the-death-of-innocence-annette-mcgavigan/
Irish Studies. “’The Death of Innocence’”. http://irishstudies.sunygeneseoenglish.org/the-death-of-innocence/