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Loughinisland massacre: Despite tragedy, the spirit of village is still unbroken

By Deborah McAlesse

Published 10/06/2016

The Heights Bar in Loughinisland where the shootings took place
The Heights Bar in Loughinisland where the shootings took place
Relatives of the Loughinisland massacre speak at the Ramada Hotel, Shaw’s Bridge, after the findings of the report were published
O'Tooles Bar (The Heights) in the Co. Down village of Loughinisland. Six men were shot dead by two UVF gunmen, while they were watching the 1994 World Cup on television.
Those murdered were Barney Green, 87; Adrian Rogan, 34; Malcolm Jenkinson, 53; Daniel McCreanor, 59; Patrick O'Hare, 35; and Eamon Byrne, 39.
Loughinisland families press conference takes place in the Ramada Hotel in Belfast
Six people were killed at The Heights Bar at Loughinisland in 1994
The Heights Bar in Loughinisland where six men were shot dead
O'Tooles Bar (The Heights), in the quiet Co Down village of Loughinisland where UVF gunmen burst in opened fire, during a World Cup match on June 18, 1994.
Victim Barney Greene was oldest man to die in Troubles at 87
Malcolm Jenkinson
Adrian Rogan
Don McCreanor
Patsy O'Hare
Eamonn Byrne
Loughinisland: Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire confirms collusion between police and loyalist killers. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Scenes from the aftermath of the atrocity
Funeral of Adrian Roghan
Scenes from the aftermath of the atrocity
Scenes from the aftermath of the atrocity

That summer evening in June 1994 I was a guest at a wedding in a hotel just a few miles from Loughinisland village.

I can remember the confusion when the music and carefree laughter was abruptly replaced by panic and tears as news of a shooting in the small village bar spread throughout the wedding hall.

Guests with family in Loughinisland ran into the hotel foyer where they crowded around two pay phones making frantic calls home to make sure loved ones were safe.

A couple of years after the atrocity my family moved to Loughinisland, to a house a short distance from the Heights Bar.

We were "blow-ins", newcomers with no real connection to the village. But the people of this beautiful village, still raw with grief, generously accepted us as part of their close-knit community.

Over the years the resilience and strength of this community has never failed to amaze me.

Despite the shadow of being associated with such a terrible atrocity, the people of Loughinisland have refused to let it define them. It has never destroyed their spirit.

Nobody in this village passes without a wave or a bright smile.

While in my adult years I moved away from the village, I still proudly claim to be a Loughinislander - even if only a blow in.

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