The Murder of Seamus Ludlow in County Louth, May 1976. Towards a public inquiry?
Introduction to the murder of Seamus Ludlow and the official cover-up.
The recent Campaign for Truth and Justice.
Other Ludlow Family Sites.
The Sunday Press, 9 May 1976:
"Santa" NO CLUE Town is outraged.
The murderers of "quiet man" Seamus Ludlow - shot three times in the chest at close quarters and left slumped across a hedge a week ago - have left the children of Dundalk without their favourite Santa Claus.
For Seamus, a 48-year-old worker in a timber yard, was the man who for many years acted as Father Christmas to hundreds of young children in the Border town. He used to go from door to door in the big Marian Park estate for a number of years distributing presents on behalf of the local tenants' association. And he was also the number one Santa Claus in demand for functions throughout the town.
But it was not only the children of Dundalk who were appalled by his mystery murder last week. For Seamus Ludlow was a man with no enemies, who worked tirelessly on behalf of charitable organisations and was a friend to anybody who needed his help.
He was last seen alive shortly after midnight on Saturday night last outside Smith's garage just north of Dundalk. He was thumbing a lift, as he had done countless times before, to his home at Thistlecross, Culfore, a few miles away.
But this time he never reached home. His body was found around three p.m. on Sunday thrown across a hedge in a narrow laneway about half a mile from his home, on the Dundalk-Newry road.
About £7 was found in his pocket, his shoes were clean and there were no signs of a struggle - facts which lead the 30-strong murder investigation team operating from Dundalk Garda Station to believe that he may have been murdered elsewhere and dumped near his home.
Supt. Dan Murphy of Dublin Castle, one of the principal officers involved in the investigation, said in Dundalk yesterday: "We still have no idea of the motive of this murder. We are conducting house to house inquiries by way of questionnaires over a wide area.
The late Mr. Ludlow, who was not married, lived with his 80-year-old widowed mother, Mrs. Annie Ludlow, and one of his three sisters, Mrs. Nan Sharkey. Every week when he got his wages, he dutifully handed them to his mother and she gave him back an "allowance". Said Mrs. Sharkey, mother of ten children, yesterday: "It has been a terrible shock to all the family and, indeed, to the town. Seamus was so good, he never did anybody any harm in his life. He was always playing jokes on the children, who adored him.
"He had a bad chest and had been off work for six weeks, only returning to work over a week before his death. He was a great singer and mouth organ player and loved to go and have a couple of pints after work."
One of his two brothers, Mr. Kevin Ludlow of Marian Park, said: "Seamus was too good to live. He was so well-known and loved and had no enemies. He was not involved in any organisations, political or otherwise. Personally, I think whoever killed him knew him because only somebody from around the area would know of the existence of this narrow laneway, which was almost covered with briars. I also think more than one person was involved, from the way my brother's body was thrown onto the hedge, I cannot understand why anybody would want to do such a terrible thing to him."
The dead man's nephew, Jimmy Fox (16), who worked with him at the timber yard of Mr. Danny Phillips at Ravensdale, said: "Uncle Seamus never got into arguments and was an honest hardworking man. If they had known him for half a day, they would never have killed him. He was full of fun and trickery."
Meanwhile, as the gardai last night stepped up their investigations, Supt. Murphy renewed a garda appeal for help from the public in solving the mystery murder. He said: "Mr. Ludlow was thumbing a lift on the road for some time, he had to be picked up, killed and then dumped from the car. Somebody must have seen or heard something. No matter how trivial any information may seem, we would like to have it.
"From our investigations so far, nobody heard any shots. The crucial period would seem to be between midnight and 1.30 a.m. and around that time about 600 people would have been leaving a dance at nearby Ballymascanlan Hotel.
"We still hope somebody may have heard something," said Supt. Murphy, who is heading the murder hunt, together with chiefs Supt. Andrew Murtagh and Supt. Richard Fahy.