Our tribute to Lyra McKee

It was with deep shock and sadness that we learned of the killing of freelance journalist Lyra McKee in Derry, Northern Ireland last Thursday 19th April.

Lyra McKee

Main image: Photo released by Lyra’s family | AFP – Getty Images

Lyra was shot dead while covering riots in the Creggan area of the city, just one day after Reporters Without Borders announced the rising dangers facing journalists across Europe.

Lyra was widely regarded as a very talented journalist and writer, known for being passionate about stories no-one else cared about. Just 29 years old, much of her work focussed on the legacy left by twenty years of conflict in Northern Ireland and its affect on those who lived there, including her own generation whom she nicknamed ‘Ceasefire Babies’. She grew up in north Belfast, just off a road which was known as ‘murder mile’ during the Troubles because of the many sectarian killings that took place there. Her work often investigated how trauma affected those who had lived through the violence, as well as those whom she said were “spared the horrors of war….but not spared their after-effects”.

Lyra’s work was published by The Atlantic, The Independent, Narratively and Buzzfeed, among other local and independent media outlets. In 2016 she was named in the Forbes 30 Under 30, and in 2018 she signed a two-year book deal with Faber and Faber who described her as “a rising star of investigative journalism.” Her first book, ‘The Lost Boys’, about the disappearance of children in Belfast in the 1970’s, was due to be published in 2020. She also worked as an editor for silicon valley-based media news site MediaGazer.

Since her death, numerous tributes from friends and colleagues describe a witty, hugely gifted, kind and determined woman, and a journalist of “courage, style and integrity”. In the New Statesman, Siobhan Fenton recalls Lyra as someone “who was passionate about supporting fellow journalists, who went out of her way to be kind-hearted and to offer support when she sensed others were going through difficult times.”

In recognition of the impact she made as a journalist in such a short time, we’ve posted links to some of her key stories and talks:

  1. The Atlantic, 2016
  2. Narratively, 2017
  3. Talk at TedExStormontWomen, 2017

Lyra’s death is a huge loss to journalism. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, colleagues, and all those who knew her.