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Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Unquiet Graves: Cullyhanna screening of award-winning documentary

Director Sean Murray’s acclaimed documentary ‘Unquiet Graves, The Story of the Glenanne Gang’ won the prestigious Royal Television Society award for Best Documentary at a glittering awards ceremony, held in The Mac Theatre in Belfast on 7th November. 

Cullyhanna man Alan Brecknell, a case worker with the Pat Finucane Centre, was instrumental in bringing the documentary to Silverbridge earlier this year, and those who missed out then, will have another chance to catch this award-winning documentary at a screening in Cullyhanna on Friday 22nd November.

Unquiet Graves details how members of the RUC and UDR (a British Army regiment) were centrally involved in the murder of over 120 innocent civilians during the recent conflict in Ireland and reveals how members worked hand-in-hand with known sectarian murderers in the targeted assassinations of farmers, shopkeepers, publicans and other civilians in a campaign aimed at terrorising the most vulnerable in society. 

Now known as the “Glenanne Gang”, the group of killers rampaged through Counties Tyrone and Armagh and across into the Irish Republic in a campaign that lasted from July 1972 to the end of 1978.

Alan Brecknell and Sean Murray accept the award for Best Documentary for Unquiet Graves at the recent Royal Television Society awards.

The documentary is based on Anne Cadwallader’s bestselling book Lethal Allies, British Collusion in Ireland (Mercier Press, 2013) which is based on over twenty years of research by The Pat Finucane Centre into the activities of the gang based in and around the home of a RUC reservist in Glenanne, County Armagh. 

The film charts families’ search for truth and some form of justice. Its narrator is Oscar-nominated Stephen Rea and concludes with a haunting rendition of Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney’s poem The Strand at Lough Beg, written to remember Colm McCartney, Seamus’ cousin was killed with Sean Farmer as they returned from the All-Ireland semi-final in August 1975.

Some of the comments made by the judging panel were that Unquiet Graves was “a powerful documentary and such an important story to be told” that it was “beautifully directed with thoughtful use of music and dramatic re-constructions” and that “the programme structure was excellent and very well researched.”

The film has screened to large audiences all over Ireland, Britain, Canada, Italy, Australia and the USA with outstanding reviews.

Sean Murray, director of Unquiet Graves, with Alan Brecknell of the Pat Finucane Centre, and author Ann Cadwallader.

In March 2018 the film was shown in Silverbridge where more than 700 people attended the screening. This was significant for many as it was the attack on Donnelly’s Bar in Silverbridge which initiated The Pat Finucane Centre’s research into the “Glenanne Gang”. Three people were killed on 19 December 1975 and many others injured, some seriously when the gang attacked just after 9pm.  Those killed in the attack were Michael Donnelly, the fourteen year old son of Gerry and Marie Donnelly who owned the bar, Patsy Donnelly from Culloville and Trevor Brecknell from Cullyhanna.

The community of south Armagh will again have the opportunity to see this award-winning documentary on Friday 22 November in St. Patrick’s GFC Club, Cullyhanna at 8pm. 

There will be a short ‘Question and Answer’ session after the screening with the Director Sean Murray and Alan Brecknell. There is no cover charge for the event but all donations will be accepted on behalf of the Pat Finucane Centre.