Northern Ireland news

Derry man blinded by rubber bullet immortalised in song

Before coronavirus lockdown, Children in Crossfire founder Richard Moore travelled around the world to see first hand the work being done by the charity.
Seamus McKinney

Richard Moore, the Derry man who was blinded when he was struck by a rubber bullet as a ten-year-old boy in 1972, has been immortalised in song.

The ballad, written in the English folk music tradition by award-singing folk singer/writer Sean Cooney, will be given its first public airing on BBC Radio 4 this Thursday.

As a ten-year-old on May 4 1972, Mr Moore was hit by a rubber bullet which left him completely blind. However, he refused to allow the handicap to hold him back and has led a complete and full life.

Following a successful business career, he established the Children in Crossfire charity to help vulnerable children across the world. Before lockdown, he frequently travelled around the world to see first hand the projects the charity was assisting.

Read More: Man blinded by rubber bullet as boy accepts British soldier's apology

He has owned a bar, been a director of Derry City football club, played as a successful musician and, more recently, established Northern Ireland’s biggest community radio station, Drive 105.

In 2006, he met 'Charles' the soldier who fired the rubber bullet which changed his life and the two have become firm friends. The Dalai Lama, who is also a friend, has described the Derry man as his “hero”.

The Dalai Lama has described Richard Moore as his "hero".

The song was written for the BBC Radio 4 programme 'A Life in Song' which examines the process of song writing. Writer, Cooney – who sings with English folk outfit The Young’uns - talks through the challenge of approaching the subject of one of his songs before it writing it.

Cooney’s song recalls Mr Moore’s childhood in the Creggan including the killing of his uncle, Gerard on Bloody Sunday.

“I saw the terraced houses down along the football field/ Not knowing they would be the last thing I would ever see.”

The lyrics reflect Mr Moore’s attitude to his blindness.

“I was only ten, I’d all my life to live/From the moment I was blinded, I was ready to forgive”

Richard Moore founded Children in Crossfire to help vulnerable children around the world. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

The song recalls his forgiveness of Charles with Mr Moore’s own often quoted words “Forgiveness was the gift that came and gave itself to me.”

Mr Moore said he was overwhelmed and wept on first hearing the song. He said he was still trying to accept that a song has been written about him.

“It’s a bit weird. I am a musician myself and I have a profound admiration for anyone who can write a song because I would love to do it myself. It’s quite breath-taking really.

“I don’t always realise what my story means to people but the song showed me something of the value people put on my story and that is a lovely thing. There were so many emotions. It was overwhelming the first time I heard it; I felt very privileged, humbled,” he said.

'Richard Moore' will receive its first public broadcast on BBC Radio 4 this Thursday (11.30am).

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