Greysteel: Dignity and silence on a night of sad reflection
Several hundred people turned out to the site of the Greysteel massacre last night in an show of solidarity with the grieving families.
Only the sound of school children singing broke the silence as the families of the murdered, clergy and community remembered the horrific scenes 20 years before when UFF gunmen shot seven dead at the Rising Sun bar and and fatally injured another.
Scores of candles and bouquets of flowers sat before a memorial stone to the slain just a few feet from the bar.
The strength and fortitude of the people of Greysteel was paid tribute to in an earlier mass at the Star of the Sea church just outside the village.
The congregation spilled out into the hallway as both locals and visitors flocked to remember those who so brutally lost their lives.
Relatives of those who were killed – John Burns, Moira Duddy, Joe McDermott, Victor Montgomery, James Moore, John Moyne, Stephen Mullan and Karen Thompson – have maintained a dignified silence since their murders 20 years ago.
A representative from each family presented a candle to represent their loved ones during the service.
Former SDLP leader John Hume was also welcomed as "someone who did so much to bring peace to this country".
Ministers from other denominations were present, including Church of Ireland Canon John Blair and Presbyterian minister the Rev Jim Gray who read the first lesson.
Retired Bishop Edward Daly, who presided over the funeral masses in 1993, returned for the mass last night.
Father Stephen Kearney, who was one of the priests present on the night of the shootings, also returned to deliver the homily.
He paid tribute to the "quality" of the people of Greysteel.
"You saw yourselves as ordinary people who were asked to carry the pain inflicted by men who were driven by hate, bitterness and inhuman lust for cruelty," he said.
"You did that by supporting each other, by being so conscious of the pain that was in other homes like your own that rather than crying out revenge, or even justice you accepted your own pain and used it as the tonic that gave you sensitivity to others and strength to comfort them."
He also paid tribute to the media for "the good work they did in the reporting of those tragic events and the aftermath".
"We all tend to forget what life was like 20 years ago," he said.
Commenting on the public silence maintained by the relatives of the Greysteel victims, he said: "There is a current trend to get people to tell their story. Often what happens is that the 15 minutes of glory in front of the TV camera can become a very costly price for baring a human soul.
"We are not actors in a soap, or celebrity participants in reality TV shows.
"Often it is those who carry the greatest burdens have the least to say."