Susan McKay

In the only photograph of Jean McConville, taken in 1965, she stands beside a row of her children. She’s pregnant, her arms folded, hands hidden, wearing an apron. Her head is tilted, dark wavy hair pulled back and eyes scrunched up against the light. In the foreground, often cropped out, is her husband, Arthur. He is sitting down so you can’t see how tall he was. ‘They used to joke that 12 was their lucky number,’ their daughter Helen McKendry told me. ‘He was 12 years older than her, and 12 inches taller, and she had 12 pregnancies.’ Jean McConville was ‘disappeared’ by the IRA in December 1972. Few remember her life. Even the memories of her children, most of whom were very young at the time, clash and contradict.

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