Last Sunday May 6th, on a bright but chilly Sunday evening, the families of all nine men killed in Loughgall, County Armagh by nameless, faceless paid British killers on 8th May 1987 took part in a National Commemoration. Volunteers Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Paddy Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig McKearney and Gerard O’Callaghan were members of the East Tyrone Brigade IRA. Civilian Anthony Hughes was also killed that evening and his brother, Oliver, was seriously injured. Four of the men came from the Galbally/Cappagh area whose P. H. Pearse 1916 Society was proud and honoured to host this, the largest of a series of commemorative events. The focus of the commemoration was very much on allowing the families of all the dead to be the centre of remembering their fathers, sons, brothers, husbands and loved ones, to allow their voices to be heard.
Crowds had begun to gather well before the appointed time, many keen to view the display which honoured all those from Tyrone who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in the fight for Irish Freedom. Just after 5pm a twenty member Flag Bearing Party, made up of 1916 Society members from all across Ireland, formed up. As well as all the flags associated with centuries of struggle, they carried nine large photographs of the men to be commemorated. The large crowd of over fifteen hundred set off on the two mile march to the Republican Monument in Cappagh villag accompanied by bands from Toome and Portadown.
A large crowd awaited the parade in Cappagh and after its arrival Brian Cawley, Chairperson of Tyrone National Graves, got proceedings underway. Then, in the centrepiece of the commemoration, family members of all those killed at Loughgall spoke, in turn, of their loved one. Each of them spoke movingly about the loss, the hurt, the pain, the pride, the joy, the fun and happy memories shared. Amongst the musical tributes we also listened to how so many dreams and hopes for the future had been so cruelly robbed away from them by the terrible events of May 8th 1987. Wreaths were laid on behalf of friends and comrades East Tyrone, 1916 Societies and Tyrone National Graves. A rousing version of our Amhrán na bhFiann brought the commemoration to a finish.
The crowd made its way back to Galbally for refreshments, with the names and the memories of these nine men fresh their minds. Many old acquaintances were re-newed, many stories of over twenty five years re-told. All were in agreement that these men’s memory had been very fittingly commemorated. [ENDS]