Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Mountbatten’s grandson: I forgive the IRA

Timothy Knatchbull with his bride Isabella Norman
Timothy Knatchbull with his bride Isabella Norman
Timothy Knatchbull is taken into an ambulance after the IRA bomb attack in 1979 which killed his uncle Lord Mountbatten
The remains of Lord Mountbatten are removed after the IRA bomb attack on the boat, Shadow V, in Co Sligo

The grandson of IRA murder victim Lord Louis Mountbatten has written an unflinching account of the atrocity.

Mountbatten's grandson Timothy Knatchbull was just 14 when he survived the bomb blast at Mullaghmore in Co Sligo. However, his twin brother Nicholas, grandmother Lady Brabourne (82), and 15-year-old local boat boy Paul Maxwell, along with Lord Mountbatten, were killed by the explosion on August 27, 1979.

But 30 years on Mr Knatchbull says he has learned to forgive the IRA killers. And his book — From A Clear Blue Sky — is described by the publisher as “a book about reconciliation that asks searching questions about why human beings inflict misery on others, and suggests how we can learn to forgive, to heal and to move on”.

Mr Knatchbull now lives in America where he has a career as a documentary film-maker for the Discovery Channel. His book will be published by Hutchinson to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the atrocity.

The IRA used 50lb of gelignite planted under the engine to |blow up the Shadow V just outside Mullaghmore harbour. By a miracle Timothy survived and was plucked from the water unconscious and seriously injured, deafened, his eyes scorched and his lungs filling with blood.

He was taken to Sligo General Hospital along with his parents Lord John and Lady Patricia Brabourne, who were also both seriously injured. Later the news was broken to him that his twin Nicholas had been killed.

It was to be another 16 years before Mr Knatchbull underwent bereavement counselling, which he believes helped him come to terms with the tragedy.

The murders put the Troubles on the world political stage as it came on the same day that the IRA killed 18 paratroopers in two explosions near Warrenpoint.

Mountbatten had been a regular visitor to Mullaghmore for nearly 30 years and he stayed for many weeks each summer at his wife's family estate, Classiebawn.

Though there was some low-key security, Mountbatten was considered at low risk from terrorist attack and Shadow V was routinely berthed at Mullaghmore.

Thomas McMahon from south Armagh was later convicted of his murder and was jailed for life.

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