At an incredible 38,000 items, Peter Moloney’s collection of memorabilia following every step of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, is the largest such collection. He is currently seeking a new home for the collection. He's offering it free of charge; he just wants to make sure it ends up in the right place.
3,000 political journals, 2,000 books, 15,500 images of banners and murals, 2,000 posters, and 1,000 badges, cartoons, stickers, Christmas decorations, postcards, photographs, lighters and more gadgets and propaganda make up the collection. He’s been building it for 45 years, ever since he was 15.
"I felt a lot of this material – some of which is quite frightening as well – I thought it wouldn't survive. I thought it was important that I get my hands on as much of it as possible to try and safeguard it,” Moloney told the BBC.
"I would like to think it would be a motivator for peace and reconciliation and common understanding."
The collection has already attracted interest from multiple world-class museums, like London’s Victoria and Albert.
Earliest pieces from the extensive record include an 1886 leaflet about a London gathering for Home and Rule, and many of the artifacts come from Bloody Sunday, hunger strikes, peace initiatives, internment and much more.
"Some of the pieces half of the community will hate and others the other half will hate, some will be shocked and some will even cry over them,” Moloney warns. "But we have to face our past to make sure we don't go there again."
Born in Co. Donegal and raised in London, Moloney has traveled to Ireland twice each year, making several trips to Derry, Belfast and other cities to gather memorabilia. Many of his excursions weren’t easy.
“He was questioned by special branch detectives at least 35 times – and was once held overnight – as he returned with the latest additions to his archive, both republican and loyalist,” BBC news reports.
They were growing quite confused, wondering which side Moloney was on. But he believes that his detailed collection represents the good and bad of both sides.
The Guernica Peace Museum in Spain have asked for portions of the collection, but Moloney prefers that it stay intact and also in Ireland – preferably in Derry.