EDDIE Doherty was born on February 23, 1941 to Edward and Elizabeth Doherty. He was the fourth of six children. As a young boy Eddie attended St Paul’s Primary School in Cavendish Street off the Falls Road.
When Eddie left school he started working for the Corporation on the bins. He stayed there until 1968 when he began working at boarding up buildings that had been damaged in the Troubles. As a way to earn an extra bit of money for the family he also worked nights as a barman.
At the age of sixteen Eddie met and fell in love with his future wife Marie. They courted for six years before getting married in 1962. Five years later their first child was born, quickly followed by three more. Eddie and Marie had three sons – Eamon, Patrick and Ciaran, and one daughter – Brenda.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News, Eddie’s sister Kathleen McCarry said: “Eddie was born during the Blitz. I remember my mother telling the story of how one night everyone had to run and evacuate, my daddy thought she had Eddie and she thought daddy had Eddie. When they got to St Patrick’s chapel they realised he was left behind, they ran back and found Eddie buried underneath the rubble, he was only six months.
“Eddie was rushed to the Mater Hospital where he was tended to. Years later after he was murdered my mammy would say, ‘Why did God not take him then, why did he let me raise him for 31 years?’”
Describing Eddie’s home life Kathleen said: “Eddie was the joker in the family, a real prankster, there was always laughter when our Eddie was about because he was forever carrying on. He used to land in for his lunch to my mummy with all the other binmen, she would have to feed them all.
“Eddie lived for his family, on payday he would give Marie his unopened pay packet, she would then buy him his cigarettes for the week. Not too many men did that in those days.
“They bought a wee house in Iveagh Street. Eddie was only two pay packets away from paying off his house. Marie was just the love of Eddie’s life, they were very happy.”
Discussing the impact on Eddie’s children Kathleen said: “The kids were so young when their daddy died, they are lovely kids but they had a very hard life.
“Marie never told the kids that their daddy was dead. I think it was to spare their heartache or maybe it was for her to try and get over things, whatever it was I know she must have had her reasons. Patrick told me that when he was around five years old he was playing in Iveagh street and there were two Saracens in the street. He said a soldier called him over and said ‘We shot your da.’ Patrick said ‘No you didn’t, my daddy is in England’ the soldier replied ‘We shot your da’ and they started to sing ‘Where’s your papa gone?’
“He ran into the house and said ‘Mammy that soldier is after telling me they shot my daddy.’ Marie went to the barracks and complained. One-day years ago I was in the Park Centre when Patrick rang me. He said: ‘I was just thinking, life can be very unfair. When I think of all my cousins, they’ve all got on with their lives. If my daddy had been alive our lives would have been so different and that really hurts me.’ God love those poor kids.”
Discussing the events leading up to Eddie’s murder on August 10, 1971 Kathleen said: “The first day of internment was bad here, my husband’s father had sent word down from Turf Lodge for us to get up and stay with him on the ninth night, which we did.
“The next morning we headed home to get fresh clothes for the kids, we saw our Eddie just beside Kelly’s Bar. I said come on in and get a wee cup of tea, but he said no, he wanted to get to a phone and ring Marie and check on the kids, they were all in Ardglass.
“He said ‘Kathleen, I’m away’ but I didn’t want him being on his own so I walked with him for a bit, things were very bad. Eddie was in an awful state about Father Mullan and Mrs Connolly and the others being shot, and I said ‘Ach, Eddie don’t be getting yourself into a state,son.’
“We walked to Ardmonagh Gardens and I left him, Eddie went on to my daddy’s. About two hours later, around half three, I saw Eddie again at my daddy’s, I told him to watch himself going down the road and he said he would.
“He left my daddy’s and went on to our sister Theresa’s where he had a cup of tea, he left Theresa’s at 4.35pm and walked towards Kelly’s Bar and down the Whiterock Road on the graveyard side. He got as far as the gates facing Brittons Parade when he saw Billy Whelan, he crossed over to speak to him. He asked Billy if the Giant’s Foot was clear and Billy said it was.
“Billy says the next thing he knew Eddie was lying at his feet, they shot him when he was standing talking. People said that Eddie lived for a while but he never lived, he died instantly, he fell flat on his face and was badly marked. They (the army) shot him in the back.
“That happened around 5pm. I was sitting feeding my daughter Linda at 10pm when the news came on, they were talking about the riots in Belfast, next thing the man on the news said ‘There was a man who was operating in Ardoyne and his body was dumped in Whiterock they said he was named as Eamon Doherty, I froze, I knew it was Eddie. My father-in-law came in and tried to offer me a whiskey, I wouldn’t touch anything like that, then it dawned on me that there was something wrong.”
Kathleen immediately rushed over to her father’s house. “I ran over to my daddy’s and there was pandemonium in the house. No soldier, no police came to tell us about Eddie, it was a fella he went to school with, Jim Parks, he came up on his motorbike much later and told us.
“Then the nonsense started, saying he was petrol bomber and a gunman, blackening his name. Forensics proved that was lies.”
After Eddie’s murder his family was torn apart with grief.
Recalling those dark days Kathleen said: “My mummy died of a broken heart seven years after Eddie and for seven years we just watched her deteriorate. She went from this strong woman who washed the dead, delivered babies, did amazing things, to a woman who was lost. When Eddie died it just finished her. Things were never the same.
“My mother’s father was shot dead in 1922 and now her son – how much could one woman take?
“There were times we couldn’t find her and would have to go out looking for her, we would find her at the grave washing it down.”
Nine years after Eddie died, his wife Marie also died of a heart attack. “She was only forty,” said Kathleen. “It was terrible, those poor kids were left without their parents. We all loved the kids so much. Marie’s family took them, they were a lovely family who did their best by the kids.
“People would have said to me that our Eddie was in the wrong place at the wrong time, but no he wasn’t, he was on his own road, going from his own house to my mammy’s and then back home again. So no he wasn’t in the wrong place, he was exactly in the right place where he belonged.”