Mountbatten bombing anniversary ‘a reminder of dark days’, service told
The 40th anniversary of the bombing that killed Lord Mountbatten and three others serves as a stark reminder of dark days no one wants to return, a service for the victims has been told.
The commemoration of the fishing boat blast that killed the Queen’s second cousin, two members of his family and a local boat boy should be used to rededicate people to the causes of reconciliation and justice, a cleric said.
Church of Ireland Archdeacon Isaac Hanna told those gathered on a rainswept clifftop just outside the seaside village of Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, that no family should again have to experience the trauma endured by those bereaved by the IRA attack in August 1979.
The parents of Paul Maxwell, the Co Fermanagh teenager who was working on the boat when it blew up, were among those who came to remember 40 years on.
John Maxwell and Mary Hornsey, sitting either side of their daughter Lisa McKean, listened as Archdeacon Hanna spoke of a day when “innocence was lost”.
Rescuers and medics who responded to the incident joined them, as did former staff of Classiebawn Castle, the holiday home where Lord Mountbatten stayed on his frequent fishing trips to Ireland.
As well as killing the great uncle and mentor of Prince Charles and 15-year-old schoolboy Paul, the bomb on the Shadow V also claimed the lives of Lady Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of Lord Mountbatten’s daughter, and his 14-year-old grandson Nicholas Knatchbull.
During the service, John Maxwell read verses from Seamus Heaney’s Cure At Troy.
“So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge,” he said. “Believe that a further shore is reachable from here.”
He then joined Paul’s mother to lay a wreath at the simple green cross memorial overlooking the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Ms Hornsey later placed a single yellow rose on a plaque dedicated to the victims, kissing the flower before letting go.
Archdeacon Hanna, who was joined by parish priest Tom Hever for the cross-community service, told the gathering that the people of Mullaghmore stood with the bereaved.
“The events of 40 years ago are hard to imagine as we look out over this scene,” he said, as Paul’s parents listened from the front row.
“And yet they speak of innocence lost, they speak of a time when horror visited this coastline and this place, they speak of a time of confusion and fear.
“I also want to say they speak of a time when a community rallied around those that had lost loved ones, when this community stood with this family in particular and all those who had been affected in some way, and said, ‘this was not done in our name’.
“We stand with you and there is comfort and strength in knowing that you have this support in this place at this time.”
The archdeacon said the bombers had not succeeded if their goal was to strike fear into people.
“Fear can have a stifling effect on those who are coerced and are intimidated in any way, and perhaps that was the intention that day, but the opposite has been the effect,” he said.
“Today is as much about rededicating ourselves to the cause of justice, the cause of reconciliation and the cause of freedom so that no person should have to go through what you as a group have gone through.”
Afterwards, Ms Hornsey said the service had been of great comfort to the family.
“I think it was absolutely wonderful that the community came out today and organised this lovely service of remembrance,” she said.
“I would like to say thank you to all of those people who took part in this.
“It has helped us enormously because I feel that in this service there was love and support for our family and we appreciate that.
“I feel really privileged to be here with all these people, to hear their singing and their words of comfort, and to meet people who had actually been here on that day.
“A friend of Paul’s who is now 55, Paul and this friend Matty, they were best friends, he has never had another (best) friend since Paul died, so hearing all that and meeting old friends and people I have not seen who were actually here on the day of the explosion has meant a great deal because of their love and support, and the people of Mullaghmore have been absolutely wonderful.”