Droppin’ Well bombing remembered 32 years on

The scene of the BallyKelly Droppin' Well bombing in 1982.
The scene of the BallyKelly Droppin' Well bombing in 1982.

A survivor of the Droppin’ Well bombing in Ballykelly has described how he will never forget the night of December 6, 1982 when the INLA attack claimed the lives of 17 people.

Martin McCann from the village was among those who survived the atrocity, which killed six civilians and 11 soldiers. He attended the annual commemoration in Ballykelly at the weekend; a service he describes as a “comfort”.

Martin McCann pictured in 2012 looking over old newspaper clippings of the Droppin' Well bombing. (2904SL05)

Martin McCann pictured in 2012 looking over old newspaper clippings of the Droppin' Well bombing. (2904SL05)

“Everybody who is there knows how you feel because we’re all going through the same thing,” Martin told the ‘Journal’. “It does help that everyone is in the same situation. You take comfort from that. We’re all there for the same reason, unfortunately.”

Martin was 17 years old and working as a barman at the Droppin’ Well the night the bomb exploded. The teenager walked away from the no warning blast, uninjured - but not unaffected.

“It never goes away,” said Martin. “It’s always there in the back of your head. You wake up with it everyday.”

Bishop of Derry, Donal McKeown spoke at the commemoration in Ballykelly. He said a very large proportion of the population is under 24 and has little or no memory of the Troubles at all.

“In the lives of those who were involved in any way at the Droppin’ Well bomb, the traumatic events of those days will be seared into their memory. But for nearly half our population, the event that we remember today occurred before they were even born.”

Bishop Mckeown said what is important is how events are remembered, and that is a significant factor in helping younger people to envision the future.

“I doubt if the 17 dead in the Droppin’ Well would want us to recall them and their terrible death in a way that perpetuates hatred or bitterness. That would mean that neither they nor we could be at peace,” said Bishop McKeown.