Belfast Telegraph

Mountbatten tragedy saw people rally to find strength during time of horror, cleric tells memorial

Paul Maxwell’s mum Mary Hornsey with daughter Lisa McKean
Paul Maxwell’s mum Mary Hornsey with daughter Lisa McKean
Paul Maxwell
The service
The wreath laid by Paul’s parents

By David Young

The bomb attack that killed Lord Mountbatten and three others marked a day when innocence was lost, a memorial service has heard.

People came together in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, on the 40th anniversary of the blast that claimed the lives of the Queen's second cousin, two members of his family and a boat boy from Enniskillen.

Church of Ireland archdeacon Isaac Hanna told those gathered on a rainswept clifftop just outside the seaside village that no family should again have to experience the trauma endured by those bereaved by the IRA attack in August 1979.

The parents of Paul Maxwell, the Co Fermanagh teenager who was working on the Shadow V boat when it blew up, were among those who came to remember the victims.

John Maxwell and Mary Hornsey, sitting either side of their daughter Lisa McKean, listened as Archdeacon Hanna spoke of a day when horror visited the community.

Rescuers and medics who responded to the bomb joined them, as did former staff of Classiebawn Castle, the holiday home where Lord Mountbatten stayed on his frequent fishing trips to Ireland.

As well as killing the great uncle and mentor of Prince Charles and 15-year-old schoolboy Paul, the bomb also claimed the lives of Lady Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten's daughter, and his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull.

During the service John Maxwell read verses from Seamus Heaney's Cure At Troy.

"So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge," he said.

"Believe that a further shore is reachable from here."

He then joined Paul's mother to lay a wreath at the green cross memorial overlooking the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ms Hornsey later placed a single yellow rose on a plaque dedicated to the victims, kissing the flower before letting go.

Archdeacon Hanna, who was joined by parish priest Fr Tom Hever for the cross-community service, told the gathering that the people of Mullaghmore stood with the bereaved.

"The events of 40 years ago are hard to imagine as we look out over this scene," he said, as Paul's parents listened from the front row.

"And yet they speak of innocence lost, they speak of a time when horror visited this coastline and this place, they speak of a time of confusion and fear.

"I also want to say they speak of a time when a community rallied around those that had lost loved ones, when this community stood with this family in particular and all those who had been affected in some way, and said: 'This was not done in our name'.

"We stand with you and there is comfort and strength in knowing that you have this support in this place at this time."

The archdeacon said the bombers had not succeeded if their goal was to strike fear into people.

"Fear can have a stifling effect on those who are coerced and are intimidated in any way, and perhaps that was the intention that day.

"However the opposite has been the effect," he said.

"Today is as much about rededicating ourselves to the cause of justice, the cause of reconciliation and the cause of freedom so that no person should have to go through what you as a group have gone through."

Afterwards Ms Hornsey said the service had been of great comfort to the family.

"I think it was absolutely wonderful that the community came out today and organised this lovely service of remembrance," she said.

"I would like to say thank you to all of those people who took part in this.

"It has helped us enormously because I feel that in this service there was love and support for our family and we appreciate that. I feel really privileged to be here with all these people, to hear their singing and their words of comfort, and to meet people who had actually been here on that day."

Belfast Telegraph


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