Peace Comes Dropping Slow: My Life in the Troubles


Denis Bradley

The long-awaited engaging and inspiring memoir of Derry peacemaker Denis Bradley.


April 2024


Denis Bradley was born and raised in Buncrana, just 12 miles from the border with Northern Ireland. On joining the priesthood he found himself assigned to the cathedral parish in Derry city, arriving in the summer of 1970 as the streets were descending into chaos with the outbreak of the Troubles.

An eyewitness to the wanton violence of Bloody Sunday, Bradley was spurred to become involved in the ‘backchannel’ as one of three men who would provide a secret link between the IRA and the British government for thirty years.

Fervent in their belief that dialogue would bring peace, they brokered the crucial 1993 meeting between IRA men Martin McGuinness and Gerry Kelly and a British Intelligence agent codenamed ‘Fred’. This was a vital step on the road to negotiations which would lead to the ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement.

Throughout it all, Bradley worked to combat addiction and homelessness in his adopted community, and made the difficult decision to leave the priesthood to marry.

Once played out in the shadows, Bradley’s pivotal role in Northern Ireland’s peace process is finally illuminated in this engrossing memoir.

Praise for Peace Comes Dropping Slow

‘Fascinating … intriguing.’ – Derry Journal

‘The secret audacity that lit [the] fire of peace.’ – The Irish Times

‘Dark humour and incisive analysis elevate Denis Bradley’s Northern Ireland peace memoir … a humane, unpretentious affair.’ – Sunday Business Post 

‘This is an informative, inspiring, honest, thoughtful and challenging book. I hope it will be widely read by a large number of people.’ – Rev. John Dunlop

About the Author

Denis Bradley was born in Buncrana, County Donegal, but has spent most of his adult life in Derry city. He is a former priest, who has also worked as a counsellor and set up shelters for the homeless and treatment centres for alcohol and drug addiction. He was the first vice chairman of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, set up to oversee the actions of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and as a member of the so-called ‘backchannel’, who acted as go-betweens for the IRA and the British government, was instrumental in helping bring about the Good Friday Agreement.


1. Beginnings
2. A New Parish
3. Adapting to the Times
4. The Awfulness of Violence
5. Bloody Sunday
6. Conversations
7. A Kaleidoscope of Tragedy
8. The Bogside Association
9. The Backchannel
10. Changing Times
11. A Crucial Meeting
12. Disappointment
13. Driving the Peace Process Forward
14. A Seemingly Impossible Vision
15. New Challenges
16. A New Beginning for Policing
17. Legacy
18. Apologia