your September 1 issue, I read with great interest
your article on secret war graves. Everything that
could be said has been said to condemn this awful
murder. The author of secret war graves wrote another
article in An Phoblacht in 1992 - The
Lower Ormeau Road - A Community in Grief. If my
memory serves me correctly your journalist was asked
to write that piece because it was about the community
from which he came. Write it he did, with great sensitivity
and an eloquence which is chacteristic of all his
no one from the lower Falls, the community in which
the McConvilles lived has come forward to speak publicly
in any way. I come from the community where the McConvilles
resided at the time they resided there and I have
a few words to say in defence of that community. I
feel I need to say something in our defence because
so much bad press has come our way due to this awful
murder. For example, Jean McConville's son-in-law
Mr. McKendry wrote a book which was no PR exercise
for the people of the lower Falls. This is understandable,
but on a recent holiday I picked up an English language
newspaper and I was horrified at the reading of it.
The journalist implying in some sense that our whole
community was in some way at fault.
moved into the new state-of-the-art Divis complex
in 1969, and shortly after that the Falls Road went
up in flames. Our street - Ardmoulin St., the half
which ran from Milford St. to the Falls, all moved
together on the same day on to the same balcony -
Guilford Walk. There were no new faces among us. Ours
was a close knit community with some families having
lived in the same area cheek by jowl for generations.
Those were tough impoverished times. We didn't need
to read Frank McCourt's book to gain an insight into
poverty we lived it. It is my recollection that no
one neighbour would have seen another stuck. A family
with ten children was no big deal; I myself am number
six in line.
lower Falls was and still is Republican to the backbone,
and can hold its head up and take its place among
all other communities who have fought and suffered
this last thirty years. The fact that this awful murder
happened is no slur on our community. Just as the
awful tragedy in Soham was no slur upon that community.
can find no one in the 'lower whack' who knew the
McConvilles on anything other than nodding terms.
On Guilford Walk I lived less than one hundred yards
away from the McConvilles on Farset and I can say
with my hand on my heart that I never knew Mrs. McKendry
(Jean's daughter) either from school or from being
about the area as a teenager. The McConvilles lived
among us but were not of us - blow ins- and I mean
to offend no one by saying that. However, when I pick
up a tabloid newspaper or see upsetting scenes of
excavations on our television screens my heart is
sore for the McConvilles.
wish their memories of the lower Falls were like mine.
As for Jean McConville may her soul rest in peace.
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