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The Dundalk Democrat: 26 December 2007:

Relatives gather for unveiling of Dundalk bomb memorial

By Anne Marie Eaton

Exactly 32 years ago to the day that a car bomb exploded on Crowe Street bringing death and destruction to Dundalk's Town Centre, relatives of the deceased and injured gathered for the unveiling of a new memorial, Free Spirits.

The explosion outside Kay's Tavern on Friday, December 19 1975 immediately killed 60-year-old Hugh Watters, a tailor from St. Clement's Park, Dundalk, while Jack Rooney (61), a local authority employee and fireman of Oakland Park, Cox's Desmesne, Dundalk, died on December 22 from injuries sustained in the attack which left over 20 others injured.

The families of both men joined with Dundalk Town Council to choose a suitable memorial design which was funded by both the Council and the Remembrance Commission.

The memorial Free Spirits was created by sculptor Leo Higgins.

The design features a ladder, fireman's helmet and tailor's needle along with seven doves.

A substantial crowd turned out for the unveiling ceremony which included an ecumenical blessing as well as some words from Town Council Chairman, Jim D'Arcy and Maura McKever, daughter of the late Jack Rooney, on behalf of the breaved families.

An Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern TD, was represented by his Aide de Camp, Capt. Michael Treacy while Pauline O'Shaughnessy, Secretary of the Remembrance Commission also attended.

Cllr D'Arcy said the memorial was a "fitting memorial to an awful incident" and also served as a "powerful reminder of a very different time for Dundalk and the wider border area".

He added: ""It not only recalls the very particular and tragic pre-Christmas incident 32 years ago which resulted in the deaths of two fine local men but also reminds us of a time when all of us on this little island lived under a dark cloud of danger - especially in Northern Ireland and along the border."

Maura McKeever thanked people for attending the ceremony. She described the sculpture as "a fitting memorial to our fathers and will serve as a permanent reminder to future generations of what happened here so close to Christmas on 1975."

Mrs McKeever eminded the crowd that it was not only the Rooney and Watters families which were affected by the bombing.

"I would like to remind you also of the 20 people who were injured, some very seriously on the night of the 19th of December 1975 and the tragic death of Nancy Brennan in a car accident on the same night as she was travelling into Dundalk responding to an emergency call to man the telephone exchange."

Violinist Roisin Crawley who played In the Bleak mid Winter at the beginning of the ceremony brought the event to a conclusion with Angels We Have Heard on High.

Above: This photograph, scanned from The Dundalk Democrat, shows Maura McKeever and Margaret English, daughters of the deceased Jack Rooney and Hugh Watters, pose either side of the plaque at the base of the new memorial to their murdered fathers.

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Produced in association with the Ludlow Family.

Last edited: 30 December 2007 23:24:14

 Visit the Ludlow family's websiteVisit Justice for the Forgotten  Statement by John Oliver Weir

Download the Barron Report (pdf file) on the Dundalk bombing.

Download the Barron Inquiry Report into the 17 May 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings, (pdf file)

Barron Report: on the Dublin Bombings of 1972 and 1973, can also be downloaded in pdf form

Download the Barron Report into the murder of Seamus Ludlow from the Oireachtas website (pdf file)

Copyright © 2007 the Rooney, Watters and Ludlow families. All rights reserved. Revised: December 30, 2007 .