Weekend of events to mark Drumnakilly ambush
Republicans from throughout Ireland will converge in the village of Loughmacrory and in the townland of Foremass, Sixmilecross next weekend to take part in a series of events to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the deaths of IRA volunteers Gerard and Martin Harte and Brian Mullin.
The IRA men were killed as they travelled in a commandeered car while on active service in the small townland of Cloughfin, Drumnakilly on Tuesday 30th August 1988. The inquest into their deaths 1993 heard that over 230 shots were fired at the three men by undercover British soldiers.
The shooting shocked the entire community because Gerard, Martin and Brian were popular figures in the Mid Tyrone area.
Brian was a member of the well known Mullin family from Foremass, known locally as the 'Bards' because his grandfather had been a poet. A bricklayer by trade, Brian was a 'gentle giant' who had a great future ahead of him with his girlfriend, Eileen.
At the time of his death, Martin Harte was captain of Loughmacrory Saint Teresa's Gaelic Football team and was holder of the club's player of the year award. Martin was married to Brian's sister and they had one young son, Declan.
Gerard was also well respected within his local community of Loughmacrory and occupied many key roles both as player and manager with St Teresa's GFC. One of Gerard's greatest achievements was winning a Tyrone junior championship medal while playing corner forward with the Loughmacrory side in 1980. Gerard was also married with a young son, Colm.
The weekend of events will kick off next Thursday evening with the launch of an exhibition in the recently opened Loughmacrory clubrooms. The exhibition of photos and memorabilia will reflect on the lives of Brian Gerard and Martin.
A memorial stone dedicated to Brian will be unveiled at his family home in Foremass on Friday evening at 7pm and this will be followed at 9pm by a memorial lecture in Loughmacrory GFC Clubrooms. This will be delivered by Cavan/Monaghan TD, Caoimghin Ó Caolain.
The memorial lecture will also incorporate the story of the 1983 escape from Long Kesh, told by escapees Seamus Campbell and Joe Corey.
The annual Under 12 football tournament will take place in Loughmacrory on Saturday morning followed by a parade at 4pm. This will be followed by the opening of a new memorial garden in the village. Martin Ferris TD from Kerry will deliver the main oration.
Saturday evening will conclude with a 20th anniversary mass and an Irish Night in Loughmacrory clubrooms with music from local artists and Gerry Cunningham.
On Sunday, a 20th anniversary mass will be held for Brian in Dunmoyle.
The weekend of events have been organised by the Drumnakilly Martyrs Commemoration Committee, in partnership with the families of the three volunteers.
Sean Harte, brother of Gerard and Martin said "News of the shooting at Drumnakilly spread like a shockwave. Many people to this day can remember exactly where they were and what they were doing when the tragic news came through. People also remember the disgraceful scenes of RUC and British Army intimidation of mourners attending the wakes and funerals and the Chinooks landing during the funeral proceedings".
Mr Harte continued
"However, as a family we took great comfort from the fact that the community stood by us, despite the provocation. This was perhaps best demonstrated by the thousands of people from all over the country who turned out for the funerals and wakes. We are extremely proud of our brothers and sons and despite the passage of twenty years we are immensely proud that the community are once again rallying to remember the lads in such a fitting way." ENDS