Mars Bar holds massacre memories

By Freya McClements
BBC News

Image caption, John Kelly is now Education and Outreach Officer at Free Derry Museum

"I have a Mars Bar which is 38 years old, which my mother bought for Michael."

In 1972, Michael Kelly was a 17-year-old from Creggan whose main interests in life were pigeons, music, and his girlfriend.

He was training to be sewing machine mechanic in Belfast, and travelled down on the bus every Sunday evening with the chocolate bars his mother always gave him for the journey.

On 30 January, 1972, Michael was killed when the British army opened fire on a civil rights march, one of the youngest victims of Bloody Sunday.

His older brother John still keeps one of the chocolate bars in his memory.

"My mother was very protective of Michael, because he almost died of a virus when he was three.

"It put him in a coma for three weeks, and I remember us all kneeling around the bed praying for him.

"He was 17 years old when he was murdered, but still that day he asked his mother for permission to go to the march.

"He was 17, he was old enough to go, but still he asked out of respect for his mother, and we all persuaded her to let him go.

"I remember before the march started saying to him, 'If anything happens, don't hang about', and those were the last words I said to him.

Image caption, Marchers come to the aid of the injured Michael Kelly

"To see him carried out of the house and to the hospital and to see him dead, it was awful.

"My mother was at her sister's house in the Bogside when Soldier F was killing Michael. She had followed the march to keep an eye on him.

"We know it was Soldier F because the bullet lodged in Michael's spine, and it was traced to his gun.

"My mother saw the Paras coming in and she saw Michael and called out to him, but he didn't hear her and ran on to the barricade, where he was shot dead.

"She was looking out of the window for her son and he was below her feet, shot dead.

"They were awful times. My mother was no good for herself or anybody else afterwards.

"She remembered nothing for five years after Michael was killed, and I thought she would be a victim of Bloody Sunday too.

"I was trying to keep my mother alive, and find justice for my brother," said John.

"She was there for the start of the Saville Inquiry, she walked in at the front side by side with Mrs McKinney, Willie's mother, and I was so proud to see her there.

"But she became ill in 2003, and she would ask on a daily basis what was happening about Michael.

"She died in June 2004, but a few weeks before I lied to her and I told her the case was won and they'd said Michael was innocent, so she died happy.

"She said she wanted all the bits and pieces belonging to Michael buried in the coffin with her.

"Everything was put in - the suit he wore that day, his textbooks, and his half-eaten Wholenut bar.

"The Mars Bar, well, I kept that for myself."

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