Growing up in Derry as the Ceasefire Babies generation sometimes takes its toll. The young, bright and hopeful teenagers, raised by parents still haunted by the Troubles, have been told since infancy and on a very stoic tone of voice, stories of an uncanny violence.

In Derry/Londonderry, no one raises an eyebrow when the words ‘petrol bomb’ are uttered. There was a time when it was part of everyday life, and still today the ghost of the civil war lingers like a bad smell. 

But is it healthy to feel nothing? The young people of the Londonderry YMCA take a moment to reflect on their home town, the emotions it inspires them and how its inhabitants should regard the legacy of the past.

I would describe Derry as ‘okay’, meaning it has its ups and downs, and the weather isn’t great. I would describe is as funky because you get to see people with aesthetics that are quite inspiring. I would also describe it as fun because of all the events that the Council is trying to bring to the city.


Derry can be a positive place at times, but there’s so much negativity. The problem is that we are so used to it that to us it’s not negativity, it’s just the normal way. Even for me – it’s as if I came to realise that there was an abnormal amount of intolerance like racism and homophobia, and I don’t find it normal but there is just so much of it. I sometimes hear family members saying things that I think are dodgy. I ask myself what they mean by that and why they would say those things. All their information come from unreliable sources like social media or some random Google search. I’ve heard these people contradict themselves on so many topics because their sources are so weak. They will start a sentence with “It’s not that I don’t support them… but” and then go on a rant about their reasons to despise certain minorities.


Growing up, I found it ordinary that people would throw petrol bombs and shoot people. My dad always told me stories about people he knew who were killed or shot dead because they were Catholics, sometimes members of the IRA, and they happened to find themselves in a Protestant area at the wrong time. When walking to town, I was always warned not to wear the Union Jack because Catholics hate the flag and don’t want to see it. It’s very common to hear stories about two religions fighting here. We have been violent towards each other for so long that violence is in everyday life now.


Derry people seem to normalise things because they come from a city that has been through the worst. We hear stories of people being petrol bombed, of riots breaking out on both sides and of people committing suicide day after day. People tend to normalise these things because they’ve been hearing about them since before they could remember. It is always making its way into the headlines, and it is being heard on every radio station.


Normalising can severely affect a person’s mental health. It can make human emotions move sporadically and affect home life. It has become a big part of our society though, especially in the last couple of years. But I think that all it does is create negative views and opinions.


It isn’t healthy to become so tough that bad things don’t affect you, because I think it really changes your perspective on the world and how you should be treated. Bad things happen, and it’s ok not to be ok because acknowledging that will help you grow and teach you how to cope for the next, inevitable time when something else happens. Being ‘tough’ usually means bottling up your emotions and not showing how you truly feel. But at the end of the day, everyone has sensitivities and emotions. Bad things should affect you because it means you’re human.


This project was produced as a collaboration between Londonderry YMCA and Headliners NI by Lisneal students: Elle-Leigh, Rebecca, Charlie-Marie, Holly, Cory and Connie.
Thank you to Education Authority Northern Ireland for making these projects possible.