Nothing about Creggan is ordinary. In its ‘pre-history’, it was so beautiful that it is said to have inspired one of the greatest hymns ever written. In Victorian times, it housed a nobleman so dissolute that his own coachman was driven to kill him with an axe. And in the early 20th century, the back roads of Creggan were used to smuggle one of the most wanted men in Britain, Éamon de Valera, into and out of Derry.
In later years, a housing development was built on the rocky ground of Creggan. But again, this was no ordinary estate. For one, it was massive — home to 15,000 at its height. More notably, it was to foster a glut of artistic and sporting talent, including a Eurovision winner, a Top Ten rock band, international footballers and Olympic athletes. And, of course, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Creggan was to become a byword for political resistance all over the world.
The conflict left Creggan much to mourn: six of the Bloody Sunday dead were from the estate; all 13 were buried from St Mary’s Church on Fanad Drive. William Best, a teenage soldier from Creggan, was shot dead while home on leave visiting his mother. His neighbour on Rarhkeele Way, Michael Devine, was to die on hunger strike in Long Kesh less than a decade later.
There was also, however, much to celebrate. When Dana returned home in her Eurovision triumph, the entire town turned out to welcome her. European boxing CHAMPION Charlie Nash got a similar reception. And the street parties of the Creggan 50th Festival were so popular they prompted a visit from Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
Creggan: More Than a History contains all these stories and much more. It's a book which will take you from medieval raths to modern-day no-go areas, from Jacobite camps to burning barricades, from fields of grass to supergrasses. It's a book which through its contributors and interviewees, relates the passion, pride and humour that make Creggan a place apart. It's a book which, like the people who inspired it, can be occasionally sad, sometimes joyous and frequently controversial - but never ordinary.