The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?

3 July 2002 - The Irish Attorney General has directed the Coroner for County Louth to hold a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.  . . . . Please return for updates and important developments.





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The late Michael Cunningham's Investigation of 1978.


In his book Monaghan County of Intrigue, which was published privately in 1979, the late Mr. Michael Cunningham had much to say about the May 1976 murder of Seamus Ludlow. Though not strictly press coverage, we reproduce it here because it gives an independent view of the cover-up that followed the murder of Seamus Ludlow. 

Mr. Cunningham was given the runaround by the Dundalk gardai and coroner's office during the course of his private investigation in 1978 and he supported much of what the Ludlow family was saying at that time. 

Also, Mr. Cunningham provides information that was not generally known, even within the Ludlow family, about possible British Army undercover activities in Dundalk on the night that the murder was committed.

Mr. Cunningham wrote:

"The response of the public to appeals by the Gardai for information following the finding of the body were swift and to the point. The description and name of a member of the British Army who was in the Lisdoo Arms on the night of the murder were given to the Gardai. So too was the registration number of a car seen outside the premises at approximately 11.40 on that night. The Gardai were further informed that there were three men in the car while it was outside the premises. No known effort was made by the authorities to publicise this information. Significantly photographs of the eight SAS men who were arrested four days later south of the border were not published. . .

". . . I went during August 1978, to the County Coroner, Dr. Scully's premises near Clogherhead in County Louth and asked for details of the inquest on Seamus Ludlow. His secretary informed me that Dr. Scully was not the Coroner at the time and that I should go seek the information from Dr. Collins in Drogheda. I did so, but was told by Mr. Collins that all the files were with the man in Clogherhead. He suggested that I go to Dundalk Garda Station. The next day I went to the Garda station, but the only man who might be of help was out and there was no way of knowing when he might be back! The Garda I spoke to also informed me that the crime had not been committed in the Dundalk Garda district but in the Dromad district. I went there, but the man who had dealt with the case was on leave and the others could be of no help. I went home with no official details of the case.

"Subsequently, I wrote to the Coroner asking for details of the inquest, but did not even have the courtesy of an acknowledgement. I asked an acquaintance, who taught for 27 years in Dundalk, to try and get me the details I sought. He too was given the run around and again could not even get the date of the inquest. The Seamus Ludlow case became interesting and sinister.

"On Tuesday, 7th November 1978, I went back to Dundalk and asked in the courthouse about the date of the inquest. They knew nothing about it, but told me to go to the office of the Garda Superintendent in the local police station, as it was his office which dealt with inquests. Back again to the Garda station, where I was told that Superintendent Fahy was out and could not be contacted. One of the first questions I was asked was, "Are you from the press?" When I replied "No", the garda asked why I wanted information about the inquest. He told me he could not give me any information about the case and suggested that I write to the Superintendent. As a last resort I again asked for the date on which the inquest was held, but without success. This lack of cooperation was frustrating but it sent me to the scene of the crime. Locals told me that a bullet had been found when Seamus Ludlow's body was removed from the bank or hedge. They believed other bullets had been recovered from the body and suggested I visit the home of one of the deceased's married sisters, Eileen Fox.

"The story here was both sad and revealing, giving me an insight into the politics of law enforcement during the Coalition period in Government. Like the rest of the family, Mrs. Fox was not at the inquest for the very good reason that she had not been informed of the day or hour. Neither was her sister, Nan Sharkey, with whom the deceased had resided prior to his murder, nor his two brothers who worked in Dundalk. The only member of the family to get any type of notification was Kevin Ludlow, who was away at work in Newry when notification of the inquest was left at his house. It would appear that the authorities did not want any member of the family present. The Minister of Defence, Mr. Donegan, did call and sympathized with the mother and other members of the family of the murdered man. That in essence was the response of officialdom to the death of a loyal worker for the Fine Gael party. . .

"I wrote to the Government Information Office to find out if I was entitled in law to purchase copies of inquest reports. My request was transferred to the Department of Foreign Affairs, who subsequently informed me that I was entitled to purchase inquest reports at 1.43 per document. Armed with this knowledge, I wrote again to the Coroner and enclosed a cheque to cover all reports of the Ludlow inquest. I also wrote to Superintendent Fahy in Dundalk Garda station asking some questions relating to my experiences and also a question about the calibre of bullets used in the murder. Two replies arrived on the same day, but the key factor of the calibre of the bullets was missing from both. The reason Fahy gave for failing to give the information was: "Because this matter is still under investigation, I am unable to disclose this information". The Coroner could not give the details because there was no ballistics report produced by the Gardai at the inquest. The report did disclose that Dr Scully was in fact Coroner at the time of the inquest. It was his first inquest.

"The post-mortem report by the State Pathologist, John F. A. Harbinson, disclosed that the deceased had been shot three times, and three bullets were recovered. No information was given which would indicate whether they were fired from the same gun. The report did tell of powder marks on the deceased's left hand and on his coat, which led the pathologist to conclude that the shots were fired from close range. After dealing with the wounds and clothes the report continued: "I also viewed the shoes, which looked remarkably clean in view of the muddy nature of the lane in which the body was found.

"There were no reports of traces of blood on the road or the lane, thus indicating that the shooting happened elsewhere, and the body was transported to the spot where it was found. If this was correct, all the more reason for forensic tests to be carried out on the cars and clothing of the armed men arrested in the same general area of County Louth four days after the body was found. . .".


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