Droppin' Well survivor, Martin McCann. (0412SJ88) Photo: Stephen Latimer
Droppin' Well survivor, Martin McCann. (0412SJ88) Photo: Stephen Latimer

A Ballykelly man who survived the Droppin’ Well bomb which killed 17 people has issued an impassioned appeal for dedicated counselling services 30 years on.

Martin McCann from Ballykelly was just 17 when the INLA bomb ripped through the village bar on December 6, 1982. The teenager walked away from the no-warning blast, uninjured physically, but scarred for life.

Martin bravely told the ‘Journal’ yesterday about the horror of that night, and that he is haunted by it daily.

A young barman at the time, Martin was blasted 15 feet across the room when the bomb exploded. He said memories of that night are “always there”.

“They never disappear and that will never change,” he said. “It’s not meant to go away.”

Even today, said Martin, some people are reluctant to talk about the bomb.

“That’s the way it’s been,” he said. “You get on with your life. You go to work, and just get on with things.”

This Sunday, Martin will attend a memorial service at Tamlaghtfinlagan Church in Ballykelly to remember the victims of the Droppin’ Well bombing.

“Without a doubt it will be emotional, but I’m lucky. I’m a survivor. There were people who never walked away from the bomb, but I did. There will be people going to gravesides ths Sunday, so I am very lucky,” said Martin.

Only in the past year, almost 30 years on, did Martin start counselling with ‘Cunamh’, a community-led mental health project in Derry, which he credits with helping him to deal with what happened, and which gave him the courage to speak out in a bid to help others.

Martin also revealed through social networking sites, he has struck up relationships with the loved ones of victims from the Droppin’ Well bomb, and others who have had similar experiences. However, he still believes a dedicated service on the ground is needed.

“There should be a dedicated counselling service for survivors because, as far as I know, there is nothing in Limavady,” said Martin, “and I am sure there are people who are worse off than me. I’m lucky I didn’t lose anyone.”