Belfast Telegraph

Day of emotion as families unveil quilt tribute to Northern Ireland Troubles victims

By Donna Deeney

Three mothers and an aunt of four children killed during the Troubles have unveiled a quilt in their memory at a poignant service held in Fivemiletown.

Donna-Maria Barker, whose son James (12) died in the Omagh bomb in 1998, stood alongside Gina Murray whose daughter Leanne (13) was killed in the Shankill bomb in 1993.

Also at the emotionally-charged service in Fivemiletown Methodist Church was Georgina Gordon, whose daughter Lesley died when a booby-trap bomb left under her father's car exploded outside their home in Maghera in 1978.

Mavis Clark was there to remember her nephew, Alan Jack - who was a baby of just five months old when he was killed in a bomb in Strabane in 1972.

Yesterday's service came a day after Ms Barker made her first visit to Omagh since her son died to view the town's memorial to the 29 victims of the atrocity.

The four children's names were at the heart of the quilt, which also commemorated the lives of 58 adults who perished in the Troubles.

This was the fifth annual Service of Remembrance organised by the South East Fermanagh Foundation, and among the 500-strong congregation were many relatives of those whose names are included in the quilt.

Among them was David Megaw, nephew of Johnny Megaw who was among those who killed in the Enniskillen bomb in 1987.

He said: "It is good to know that my uncle is being remembered in this way.

"He died in the Enniskillen bomb which is coming up to 30 years ago but to have his name included in this quilt means so much."

Peter Millar was only a one-year-old boy when the Claudy bombs claimed the life of his grandfather David in 1972 but, along with his brother James, they both felt touched that his name will be remembered.

"This is such a special occasion and while I didn't actually know my grandfather because I was just one when he was killed, I felt it was very important to come here," he explained.

"It is important that his name won't be forgotten about."

Also named on the quilt is David Harkness who was 24 years old in 1992 when a roadside bomb at Teebane destroyed a van carrying 14 construction workers who had been repairing an Army base in Omagh. Eight of the men, including David, were killed.

One of his sisters, Ruth Forest, said: "David was the only brother to five sisters and he was the youngest in our family. It was very, very important to us all that we came to the service - it was so emotional but it was fitting tribute to all the innocent victims of the Troubles. It was shocking and quite sickening to hear all the names being read out - it brings it home to you all the people who have lost loved ones."

"It is lovely to have David named on this quilt because we will never forget him but for people who never knew him, who will see this quilt, they will think about him and wonder who he was and that is so important."

In a poignant tribute to her sister, Eva Martin - a UDR Greenfinch who died in a mortar attack on an army base in Clogher in 1974 - Linda Nelson reminded the congregation of the family's loss at that time.

She said: "Eva was hit with rocket fragments and died instantly in the arms of her husband Richard. That night I answered the door to the two local policemen who brought the devastating and shocking news of Eva's death. That memory will remain with me forever - it was a horrible time."

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