Derry’s journey from the darkest days of the Troubles to the light of the peace process and onwards is charted in a new memoir by former newspaper editor Pat McArt.
War, Peace and the Derry Journal, published on Thursday by Colmcille Press, is the story of Mr McArt’s journey from his native Letterkenny to become editor of the Derry Journal in 1981.
With some of the most influential figures in the north from the area, including former SDLP leader, John Hume, former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and former bishop Dr Edward Daly – Mr McArt had a front row view of Troubles, the peace process and the transformation of Irish society over the next quarter of a century.
In his book, the Letterkenny man details his sometimes tetchy relationship with Mr Hume and his eventually close relationship with Mr McGuinness.
Remembering his first day in the new job, he said: “I can recall vividly that first day in Derry. Black flags were flying from just about every window in the huge housing estates in Creggan, Shantallow and the Bogside, and as far as I could tell there was pro-hunger strike graffiti on just about every strategically-located gable wall.
“Heavily armed British army jeeps were everywhere. They all had a soldier with a semi-automatic machine gun popping out of a whole cut in the roof.”
- News Letter and Derry Journal owners Johnston Press put up for sale
- New book on John Hume reveals his plan to quit as SDLP leader in 1992
The memoir also charts the huge changes which beset the newspaper industry over the last 40 years. He was in the editorial chair at the Derry Journal - one of the world's oldest newspapers - as it moved from being a family-owned publication to becoming part of a huge newspaper chain when it was bought out by the Daily Mirror.
In his foreword, Colmcille Press’s Garbhan Downey the publication’s insight.
“If you want to acquire a true impression of what happened in north west Ireland between the nadir of the Troubles and the beginning of the new peace, there is no better starting point.”
War, Peace and the Derry Journal is being launched at the Guildhall on Thursday with guest speaker, former Irish Times’ London editor, Martin Cowley.