Belfast Telegraph

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

A service has taken place to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the La Mon Hotel bombing.

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

A memorial window dedicated to the victims, 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 was rededicated at the service.

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

Andrea Nelson, who was 14 when her parents Paul and Dorothy were murdered in the bomb, told the BBC the service was very moving and that it had brought back memories of the time.

She said: "As the years go on you become more accustomed to saying, "No, I don't have my parents."

"Losing them at such a young age we lost a lot of our childhood.

"Luckily, they were able to pour a lot of love into the first 14 years we had with them and we have kept that with us for 40 years."

She added: "The service was very moving and they talked about how the impact had reached out into the community.

"It affected the people who were involved in the fire service and hospitals, those were were hurt and even those who were not, were all really badly affected."

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.

"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."

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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