Collector wants to gift huge Troubles trove to home city

A UDA poster from 1975, which is amongst Peter Moloney's collection.
A UDA poster from 1975, which is amongst Peter Moloney's collection.

The owner of a monumental 38,000 piece collection of Troubles related artefacts - believed to be the largest private hoard in existence - wants his lifetime labour of love to be kept in Londonderry.

Peter Moloney, who is from Londonderry via Buncrana but moved to London with his family in the late 1950s, believes the political memorabilia has a “huge capacity” for aiding reconciliation and greater mutual understanding in Northern Ireland.

Speaking about what is effectively the product of a 48-year obsession, Mr Moloney said: “I think there is a huge capacity for the collection to be used as part of a healing and reconciliation process.

“Living in a polarised society, people saw the graffiti and the murals in their own area but wouldn’t have seen the other side, And to be able to see both sides, you can see strength and passion on both sides and it might give people pause to reflect: Why did people feel like that?”

Mr Moloney says 38,000 items have been catalogued so far but he estimates he has an additional 3-4,000 items yet to be put on an inventory.

Approximately, 40 per cent of the collection relates to the unionist community including artefacts from the Home Rule crisis of 100 years ago and UDA and UVF posters and literature from the more recent political conflict here.

Mr Moloney says some big archival hitters have already been in touch with him regarding acquisitions but he wants to bequeath the items to a body or organisation in Londonderry capable of exhibiting or archiving it.

“I would prefer that it went to Derry. I’ve had today (Monday) the city university in Dublin (DCU), the National Library in Dublin, the Linenhall Library, they’re all interested but would much prefer it was in Derry because Dublin and Belfast already have big centres of that material.

“Derry has the Free Derry museum and the Apprentice Boys museum. They’re quite localised. My collections is probably outside the scope of both their collections,” he said.

The retired architect who worked for a lifetime in Hackney and Camden says his mother’s people were Gallaghers from Londonderry and his father’s, Moloneys, from Clare.

“I was born in Buncrana and the family moved to Derry in 1954 and then on to London in 1958,” he explains.

“The family had a pub up in Butcher Street where the Tower Hotel is now. Gallaghers. It became know as ‘The Diamond Bar,’” he adds.