Forty years since loyalist bomb rocked ‘Cross bar

December 1, 2014

Forty years have passed since a loyalist bomb attack on a Crossmaglen public house injured dozens and subsequently claimed the life local man Thomas McNamee.

Saturday last marked the 40th anniversary of a no-warning UVF bomb attack on McArdle’s Bar, in which dozens were injured and one victim subsequently died of his injuries.

It was just minutes to closing time on 29th November 1974 when a package left in the hallway of the Blaney Road bar exploded.  A significant number of the estimated 30 or so customers inside at the time sustained injuries ranging from superficial to serious.  The sole fatality, Thomas McNamee, died almost a year later on 14th November 1974, as a result of the injuries he sustained in the no-warning attack.

Crossmaglen GP, Dr. Jack Crummie, attended the injured that night.  Recalling the event sometime afterwards, he said he would never forget the scene: “I attended quite a number of injured people, I remember Tommy Loye being badly injured.  There was total confusion with people running everywhere.  The ceiling of the bar had completely fallen in on the poor folk underneath.  Everyone weighed in to help.  I will never forget the dreadful smoke and dust, it was everywhere.”

Mr Loye himself spoke of his injuries at the time: “Everything happened in an instant.  I was knocked out, apparently with a flying chunk of wood which fractured my skull and left me with poor hearing to this day,” he recalled.

“Cullyhanna priest Fr. Moran, I was told later, gave me the Last Rites.  I remember wakening up in Craigavon hospital thankful to be alive.”

Earlier that same evening, Hughes bar in Newry was also targeted by a loyalist gang. The Church Street bar was packed with customers ahead of a planned darts match when a 40lb bomb was planted at the entrance to the premises.  Minutes later the explosion ripped through the building.  Among the many seriously wounded was 21-year-old John Mallon who died from his injuries in hospital a short time later.

On Friday evening last the family of John Mallon led a short commemoration at the scene of his death, now known as The Cavern, where a memorial in his honour was unveiled.