The wounds of Bloody Sunday


Sir, – Diarmaid Ferriter’s article on Bloody Sunday brought back for me a more recent memory (“Bloody Sunday 1920 changed British attitudes to Ireland”, Analysis, November 21st).

As a surgical intern in Jervis Street hospital in 1978, I had the task of admitting an elderly man for his elective procedure.

During my physical examination , I could not help but notice a very prominent, old scar on the right side of his neck. There were two scars in fact; the first at the front to the right of his larynx and another one to the back, just above the trapezius muscle.

He told me that he had sustained a bullet wound on November 21st, 1920, as he stood in the crowd at Croke Park. He thought it was a machine gun bullet which passed through the front of his neck (the entry wound) and came out at the back (the exit wound).

I agreed with him that he was very fortunate that his carotid artery, trachea, and spinal cord were not injured as the bullet must have passed millimetres from these structures.

He had been brought to Jervis Street for repair of his wound.

This calmly related history was remarkable; but equally extraordinary was the fact that he was now lying in the same ward, and at the same end of the ward, facing the same large picture of the Sacred Heart, where he had found himself during the recovery from his bullet wound 58 years previously.

Now that a hundred years have passed since that wound was inflicted, I am sorry that, due to pressure of work, I had not lingered longer to hear more of his recollections of that fateful day. – Yours , etc,