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Jerry's father died of a broken heart when IRA killed his son, says widow

By Majella O'Sullivan

Published 13/06/2016

Detective Garda Jerry McCabe and his wife Anne
Detective Garda Jerry McCabe and his wife Anne

The IRA murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Limerick 20 years ago caused his father Johnny to die of "a broken heart", his widow Ann McCabe has said.

Mrs McCabe told a special commemorative event for her late husband in his native Ballylongford, Co Kerry, she had no doubt 'granddad' never recovered from the tragedy of Jerry's death.

Yesterday, as the village commemorated an Irish national hero who had given his life in the line of duty, his widow commented: "It has often been said of a person that she or he died of a broken heart. In John McCabe's case it was literally true. Granddad McCabe never got over Jerry's murder. It broke his heart."

Mrs McCabe unveiled a plaque outside what was once the McCabe family home, newsagents and grocery store on Bridge Street.

She was joined by her children John, Mark, Stacy, Ian and Ross, grandchildren, and Jerry's sisters Marie, Eileen, Nuala and Kay, and his brother Mike.

Her late husband's partner, retired Garda Ben O'Sullivan, who suffered 11 bullet wounds on that fateful day in Adare on June 7, 1996 was also present. They were providing an escort for a post office delivery van in the Co Limerick village when their car was riddled with gunfire.

Pearse McAuley from Strabane and Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O'Neill and Kevin Walsh from Limerick were jailed for manslaughter after appearing at the non-jury Special Criminal Court.

All four men had originally been charged with Detective Garda McCabe's murder, but the State was forced to accept the manslaughter plea when key witnesses refused to co-operate after IRA intimidation.

Two other members of the gang are still on the run.

Sinn Fein campaigned for the early release of the Provo killers as part of the peace process, despite initially denying IRA involvement.

A Garda Ceremonial Unit, led by piper Danny Houlihan, marched yesterday from St Michael's Church to the former McCabe house on Bridge Street.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan was represented by Assistant Commissioner John O'Mahony. The Garda Representative Association, which sponsored the plaque, was represented by its president Kieran O'Neill.

Mrs McCabe said the family was honoured to be in Ballylongford to remember "our Jerry", describing it as a place that held so many special memories for them.

"We spent many happy times in Ballylongford with Jerry's beloved dad, Johnny and his dearly loved mother, Lizzie. Standing here in this lovely village I probably don't have to tell anyone of the mixed emotions this unveiling has brought to me and our family.

"Jerry had a great respect and passion for Ballylongford and its community. He loved its people and its characters and often spoke lovingly of them."

Retired Garda Ben O'Sullivan recalled his happy memories of visits to the north Kerry village.

"Any time we were even in close proximity to Ballylongford in the course of our duties we'd come here. I remember coming here when this was a shop and Johnny and Lizzie were running it. It was like calling in at home because there was a 'céad míle fáilte' readily available to anybody, regardless of who they were," he said.

Family friend, Muirne Hurley Goode, whose father Cormac was stationed with Garda McCabe, sang 'Neidín', Jerry's favourite song that she sang at his funeral.

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