A survivor of the Claudy bombing has said appearing on stage to tell her story in a new play has been a “healing process”.
Marjorie Leslie, who survived the IRA bombing but was badly injured and lost the Achilles tendons in the heel of one of her feet, appears in a production titled ‘The Crack in Everything’.
The play, written by playwright Jo Egan, tells the stories of six children who lost their lives in the Troubles.
Marjorie tells the story of Kathryn Aiken, an eight-year-old girl she used to baby-sit who was one of the nine people killed when three IRA bombs exploded in Claudy on July 31, 1972.
“Taking part didn’t really bother me because I’ve been in the public eye quite a bit because of Claudy,” she told the News Letter. “But what it did do was rekindle the 31st of July and I had a bit of bother coping with that emotionally. As far the acting is concerned, that didn’t bother me. But there were times I was very emotional.”
She continued: “I’m primarily there speaking about Kathryn. She went in a van with me (to hospital) because obviously I was injured by the second bomb. Kathryn’s grandfather — everybody called him Granda Aiken — came into Altnagelvin and held my hand and stood beside me. When the consultant came over, he took off his mask and just shook his head. Granda Aiken put his arms around me and we knew then that Kathryn was dead. I’m telling that story and I’m telling the story leading up to the bomb going off.”
The other stories told in the play are those of eight-year-old Damien Harkin, who was killed by an army lorry on July 24, 1971; Annette McGavigan, a 14-year-old shot dead on September 6, 1971; Julie Livingstone, a 14-year-old killed by a plastic bullet on May 13, 1981; Kathleen Feeney, a 14-year-old killed by the IRA on November 14, 1973; and Henry Cunningham, a 16-year-old killed when three UVF gunmen opened fire on a van on August 9, 1973.
Marjorie said she had benefited from meeting the other families involved.
“I’ve met some fantastic people,” she said. “Growing up in the countryside, I would see these things on the news but I never knew, really, what those people have been carrying. This has been part of a healing process. We’re all in this together.”
The play opened at the Playhouse Theatre in Londonderry on Wednesday, and continues with a matinee today, before opening at the The Brian Friel Theatre in Belfast, from December 5-8.