Memorial to Dundalk pub bombing victims unveiled
A memorial commemorating the victims of a bomb attack on a public house in Dundalk was unveiled at lunchtime today (Dec 19), 32 years to the day since the explosion which claimed two lives in the Co Louth town.
The explosion outside Kay’s Tavern, Crowe Street, Dundalk on Friday, December 19, 1975 immediately killed 60-year-old Hugh Watters, a tailor from St Clement’s Park, Dundalk while Jack Rooney (61), a local authority employee and fireman of Oaklands Park, Cox’s Demesne, Dundalk died on December 22 from injuries sustained in the attack which left over 20 others injured.
Funded by the Remembrance Commission established by the Irish Government in October 2003 and by Dundalk Town Council, Free Spirits was created by sculptor Leo Higgins working in bronze and stainless steel. It is located at Dundalk courthouse directly opposite the scene of the bombing.
The design featuring a ladder, fireman’s helmet and tailor’s needle along with seven doves was selected after a competition overseen by a panel including Margaret English and Maura McKeever, daughters of Mr Watters and Mr Rooney respectively.
Unveiling the monument, Cllr Jim D’Arcy, Chairman, Dundalk Town Council said it was a “fitting memorial to an awful incident” and also served as a “powerful reminder of a very different time for Dundalk and the wider border area”.
“While we should not become slaves to history, in order to learn from the past and to ensure we don’t repeat the awful mistakes made, we must be constantly aware of where we have come from and it is in this context that the memorial should be viewed.
“It not only recalls the very particular and tragic pre-Christmas incident 32 years ago which resulted in the deaths of two fine local men but also reminds us of a time when all of us on this island lived under a dark cloud of danger – especially in Northern Ireland and along the border.”
“At the time of this attack in Dundalk, the Taoiseach of the day, Liam Cosgrave termed it a ‘foul deed’ and ‘barbarous crime’ and it is difficult to quibble with his description or with the words of the serving Minister for Defence and Louth TD, Paddy Donegan, who spoke at the site shortly after the bombing of it being ‘another horrible chapter in a horrible era’.”
Cllr D’Arcy also put the Dundalk bombing in context by noting that it was the second fatal bombing in the Republic within three weeks while three people – including a 14-year-old boy - were killed later on the same night in a gun and bomb attack just over 10 miles away at Donnelly’s bar in Silverbridge, Co Armagh.
“Those were awful times and in remembering them, I feel it is also appropriate that we reflect in appreciation on the huge strides that have been made towards peace during the last 10-15 years. In Dundalk’s case, there is a new-found confidence about our town’s future prospects and this is very closely tied to the end of the Troubles which impacted heavily here.”
An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, was represented at the unveiling by his Aide de Camp, Capt Michael Treacy while Pauline O’Shaughnessy, Secretary of the Remembrance Commission also attended.