Belfast Telegraph

Memorial window rededicated as victims of La Mon massacre commemorated 40 years on

By Stewart Robson

A memorial window dedicated to the victims of the La Mon Hotel bombing will be unveiled in a new location today on the 40th anniversary of the attack.

Twelve people were killed and 30 injured when the hotel was firebombed on February 17, 1978.

The stained-glass window, which had been in Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council headquarters for 18 years, has been moved to the new council offices at Lagan Valley Island.

It will be rededicated at a special service today.

The ceremony will be attended by families, survivors, representatives of the emergency services and civic and political leaders.

Co Antrim-based artist David Esler, who designed the window for the council, said he had vivid memories of working on it.

"I was commissioned to design the window and to tell the narrative of the event itself, including the people who were involved," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It was to bring a sense of hope as well as a sense of locality and place."

The window includes a peacock symbol, which harks back to the Peacock Room of the hotel where the attack took place.

Each of the 12 feathers on the symbol represents a life lost, as well as tributes to the emergency services and local clergy.

Before designing the window, Mr Esler engaged with some of the families affected by the atrocity in what he said were highly emotional meetings.

"I did feel pressure designing it," he admitted.

"I'm involved a lot in situations where people have lost loved ones.

"We treat that with great respect and care.

"We like to do it on a personal basis and meet the people face to face while getting to know their story and what's in their hearts.

"While I knew the background to the story, meeting with the families brought it home to me. The pain was very much relevant despite the bomb occurring in 1978."

He added: "What I learnt was while people went through similar experiences, they have different approaches to healing and forgiveness and that is very difficult for the people involved.

"I encountered various degrees of each of those things.

"I was humbled by what I heard, and understood the different stories.

"There's not one narrative, there's lots of different reactions and some that are ongoing still. It's quite poignant."

The Dunadry artist, who will be attending the rededication today, oversaw the removal of the window from its previous home.

Deputy mayor of the council Hazel Legge said it was appropriate to move the window to coincide with the relocation of the council.

"I think it's extremely important to remember the atrocity in this way," she said. It was a dark time in Northern Ireland's history and I don't think it should be forgotten, and the families don't want it to be forgotten either."

All those who died in the La Mon bombing were attending the annual dinner dance of the Irish Collie Club.

Three of the 12 people killed were married couples and seven were women.

They were all Protestants and included a reservist in the RUC.

Belfast Telegraph

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