Images Of Ireland

Omagh August 1998

 

At 3.10pm on August 15th. 1998 a bomb went off on a Saturday in the heart of one of our towns.
The town is called Omagh and it's a small town. Saturday is the busiest day of the week.

Many of us dared to hope that bombs and killing were a thing of the past here, but it wasn't to be.
Those that planted the bomb gave false information about its whereabouts and this resulted in people being moved towards the bomb instead of away from it.

It was the worst atrocity that has ever happened here, 28 people killed, another died later
250 injured,  many lost limbs, eyes or will be scarred for life.
Of the dead most were woman,  teenagers, children and some babies.
A grandmother, her daughter who was about 8 months pregnant with twin unborn girls
and her 18 month old child were  all killed (3 generations).
Three schoolboys on a day trip from Buncrana, A young Spanish boy and his teacher.
A child out getting shoes because she was going to be a flower girl at a wedding,
Another baby. All dead. I could go on and on painting the picture of the tragedy in this town.
16 people were buried one Wednesday and 8 the next day.
In an instant our country was turned upside down and forever changed.

The whole event was so unreal our people just didn't know what to do or where to turn for comfort.
Our local radio stations became a great source of strength,  allowing people to write in or phone  to express their feelings or ask for special songs.  Many expressed their feelings in poetry.

It was difficult dealing with my own feelings that week. I was greatly saddened and felt terrible sorrow for the victims and their family but at the same time I had a deep hatred for the inhuman act carried out by these madmen. Writing these two short poems one to the victims and one to the terrorists helped me a wee bit.

To The Victims
Sacrificed on the altar of Intolerance
In the horror, that evil men do, But
when there’s brighter days in Ireland
We will still remember you
To The Terrorists
Self-proclaimed heroes
You make my skin crawl
You represent no one
No one at all

 

Thanks to Declan Green for sending in this poem.. It is filled with beautiful wee descriptions of normality which really emphasize the "unreal horror" of the bomb.

OMAGH By Declan Green

Morning's mist lay heavy round the outlands and the fields
While a  young brood mare stood silent by the old shed on the hill
The dew shone damp upon the grass and crickets chirped no more
Silence of a short-lived night before the summer storm

Our lambs had not yet risen from their mother's downy wool
Their coats still moist and matted from the evenings warm repose
Far off a Kerlew cried his last as morning's light exposed
A sleeping heartland full of hope and rising with the dawn

Breakfast at the Daugherty's a warm and special place
The kids were up at day break to prepare the weekend slate
Saturday was market day the whole world gathered round
As friends and anxious sweethearts  led the race to Omagh town

Carol brushed her fresh cut hair and tied it with the bow
That William sent last Christmas when he swore he'd never go
Sean Patrick and the Ryans met beside the tattered gate
Where cousin Frank from Boston fell from being out too late

The Millers stopped by Sacred Heart to walk along the Strule
So thankful for the card long sought from Jenny off at school
And Finton from south Tempo rarely made it north to town
He parked up by the Cappagh church and skipped the weekend crowd

The broken clouds seemed higher as they passed o'er Creggan way
And mirrored still the Camowen flowed quietly by the leigh
Sun rays often hidden peeked behind 'ol Nimbus dim
Where darkness gathered brutal force would cast its web of sin

The peace within the heartland was a short-lived summer dream
As symtex spewed its hatred forth to darken lives so green
And all the world was shattered as the timer struck its mark
And left Omagh in mourning and the good without recourse

Our children are the future bright they don't deserve to die
For a cause they neither understand nor share with you and I
So let this horror be the last let ring a peace profound
And God have mercy on our fallen friends in Omagh town

Copyright 1998 DeclanG@aol.com

 

One of the most requested songs by listeners on the radio in the weeks that followed the bombing was "Our Town" written and sung by Iris DeMent.
The song about a dying town took on a  whole new poignant meaning.
I have an
Iris DeMent page on this site with more information and photos.

Our Town (Iris DeMent)

And you know the sun's settin' fast
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts
Go on now and kiss it goodbye
But hold on to your lover' cause your heart's bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town
Goodnight

Up the street beside that red neon light
That's where I met my baby on one hot summer night
He was the tender and I ordered a beer
It's been forty years and I'm still sittin' here

But you know the sun's settin' fast
and just like they say nothing good ever lasts
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
'cause your heart's bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town
Goodnight

It's here I had my babies and I had my first kiss
I've walked down main street in the cold morning mist
Over there is where I bought my first car
It turned over once but then it never went far

And I can see the sun settin' fast
and just like they say nothing good ever lasts
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
'cause your heart's bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town
Goodnight

I've buried my Mama and I've buried my Pa
They sleep up the street beside that pretty brick wall
I bring 'em flowers about everyday
But I just gotta cry when I think what they'd say

If they could see how the sun's settin' fast
and just like they say nothing good ever lasts
Well, go on now and kiss it goodbye but hold on to your lover
'cause your heart's bound to die
Go on now and say goodbye to our town, to our town
Can't you see the sun's settin' down on our town, on our town
Goodnight

Now I sit on the porch and watch the lightnin' bugs fly
But I can't see too good, I got tears in my eyes
I'm leavin' tomorrow but I don't wanna go
I love you, my town, you'll always live in my soul

But I can see the sun's settin' fast
And just like they say, nothing good ever lasts
Go on, I gotta kiss you goodbye
But I'll hold on to my lover 'cause my heart's 'bout to die
Go on now and say goodbye to my town, to my town
' l can see the sun has gone down on my town, on my town
Goodnight, Goodnight

1992 Songs of Iris/Forerunner Music, Inc. ASCAP

Visit My Iris DeMent page Click Here

Another song that meant a lot to people was the beautiful "Broken Things" writen by Julie Millar and sung by Omagh girl Juliet Turner.
The song is on the new CD
Across The Bridge of Hope which was released to raise funds for the victims of Omagh.

A lot has been done to help the victims. One of these events was a large concert in the Waterfront to raise money. I went along with my wife, it was a really good night and helped raise 30,000 pounds.
Two of those who appeared were
Mary Black & Brian Kennedy.

 

(I have tried to make sure the above facts and figures are accurate, please let me know if there are any errors)

 

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Owen Brennan
Copyright 1998 belongs with the original authors. All rights reserved.
Revised: August 09, 2002.