The lives of 17 people brought to a “violent, shocking and untimely end” were remembered on Sunday as their loved ones, and survivors, gathered for a memorial service marking the 30th anniversary of the INLA bombing of the Droppin’ Well in Ballykelly.
Less than a quarter of a mile away from where the no-warning bomb blasted through the village bar on December 6th 1982, survivors and victims’ families gathered to remember what the Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, Right Reverend Ken Good referred to as a “very dark night in this community”.
Bishop Ken Good told those who packed the historic church of Tamlaghtfinlagan that those left behind - survivors and all those who helped on the night of the bombing - and victims “are not forgotten”.
Bishop Good praised emergency personnel, civilians, local clergy and police for their “brave and gallant efforts” that cold December night, but acknowledged the “shafts of light that shone through” because of them. “We salute each of them,” said the Bishop.
Limavady Parish Priest, Monsignor Bryan McCanny prayed for those who were “bereaved, suffered and left traumatised” by the atrocity.
Mons. McCanny said, during prayers, all those those who “died so tragically” were remembered, and said they “hold a special place in our hearts, especially in this community”.
After the hour-long church ceremony, attended also by villagers, local dignitaries, politicians, representatives from the emergency services, members of the British Army and the Cheshire Regiment and the Cheshire Regiment Association, which organised the ceremony; the congregation made the short walk to the Droppin’ Well memorial garden, beside the church. There, against the backdrop of a lone piper, a number of wreaths and floral bouquest were laid under the names of those who were killed. A memorial oak tree, with the help of families turning the soil was also planted.
Speaking after the ceremony, Bishop Goode said: “It was moving to see people in tears, men as well as ladies so it is still a very deeply felt and troubling time for people. Memories have come back and resurfaced so I just hope this was a comfort to people and a reassurance their loved ones hadn’t been forgotten and that we go forward together in hope.”