Above: Mrs. Eileen Fox, Mrs. Nan Sharkey and Kevin Ludlow
laying a wreath on 29 April 2001 at the memorial to their late brother Seamus in the lane where
he was found murdered 25 years before.
Anniversaries are an important time every
year, providing occasions for bereaved families to particularly remember
their loved one who died on a particular date. For one who died in such
tragic and horrific circumstances the annual anniversary is often traumatic
and painful for the living relatives.
For 24 long years of lies and cover-up,
and absence of facts behind the cruel murder of Seamus Ludlow, a largely
forgotten victim of the Troubles, his family remembered their loved one in
private every year on May 2nd. Like that of many other victims of collusion
on the south side of the Irish border their grief was largely ignored by a
State which had long-since turned its back on their loss!
As May 2001 approached, and with it the
25th anniversary of Seamus Ludlow's cruel murder, the Ludlow family decided
to hold a public ceremony at the memorial in the lane off the Bog Road where
Seamus Ludlow's lifeless body was abandoned by his UDR/Red Hand Commando
killers in 1976.
It was 25 years since that cruel
destruction of a human being by men filled with hatred, and a painful 25
years of indifference by the Irish State which did nothing about it!
The commemoration was planned to increase
public awareness of new information that had come to light in recent years:
that the RUC and the gardai had known of Seamus Ludlow's loyalist killers'
identity since 1977 and 1979 respectively at least; that they did nothing to
apprehend the killers who were allowed to kill again and again; that four
men were finally arrested by the RUC in February 1998, and released without
These facts caused outrage in the Ludlow
family circle, which had been lied to and cruelly misled and divided by the
Garda for more than twenty years. This outrage and the demand for honest
answers to the many still unanswered questions were uppermost in the minds
of Seamus Ludlow's family as they quietly made arrangements to commemorate
the life and cruel death of their deceased relative at the spot where his
body was found on 2 May 1976.
On the appointed day over 200 people gathered for this moving ceremony hosted
by the Ludlow family on 29 April 2001. This was the Sunday closest to the
actual anniversary, and it turned out to be a lovely bright summers' day.
People came from Dundalk, Dublin, south Armagh, Newry,
Belfast, Derry, Cavan and
from throughout the border counties area to share with the Ludlow family a
few moments in memory of the man who was murdered at this spot near the
The Ludlow family deeply appreciated the attendance of
good friends and neighbours from both sides of the border: Mountpleasant,
Ravensdale, Faughart, Dromintee, Jonesborough and elsewhere.
Also present were relatives of the late Jack Rooney and
Hugh Watters who were murdered by a no-warning Loyalist bomb at Kay's Tavern
Bar, Crowe Street, in Dundalk on
19 December 1975; by the family of Patrick Mowhan, who was similarly
murdered by a Loyalist bomb in Castleblaney, County Monaghan.
were members of Justice for the Forgotten, the group that represents
most of the victims' relatives and survivors of the Dublin and Monaghan
bombings. Another welcome attendee was Paul O'Connor of the Pat
Finucane Centre in Derry.
The Ludlow family was also delighted to have with them the
family of the late Aidan McAnespie, who was murdered by British forces at
Aughnacloy as he walked peacefully across the border to attend a Gaelic
Also present was a son of the late Maura Drumm, the Vice
President of Sinn Fein, who was murdered in her Mater Hospital bed in
Loyalists in 1976. Mrs. Drumm was actually born just a short distance away
from the Ludlow home, though she spent much of her life in Belfast.
Noted journalist Ed Moloney delivered a
moving oration. It was Ed Moloney who first reported the arrests of the four
suspects in February 1998, when he interviewed released suspect Paul
Hosking. The story appeared in The Sunday Tribune on 8
March 1998. Ed then reported the Ludlow family's
story the following Sunday.
Another distinguished speaker who honoured
the Ludlow family with his participation was Mons. Raymond Murray, author of
the best selling book The SAS in Ireland (published by Mercier Press,
1990), in which he first reported the abduction Seamus Ludlow's
brother-in-law Kevin Donegan by the British Army.
The Donegan family has no idea about how the then Father Murray
heard of this incident, because he did not hear of it from them.
Kevin Donegan was airlifted by British military helicopter
from Forkhill to Bessbrook for interrogation about the murder and the gardai's
line of inquiry. The British Army had earlier called to the Donegan home at
Dromintee and attempted to question his wife Kathleen, a sister of Seamus,
about her brother's murder.
The murder of an Irishman in the southern jurisdiction
should have been no business of the British Army - unless, of course, it was
their business. As for the gardai's line of inquiry, the British Army need not
have worried, because the gardai abandoned their murder investigation after
only three weeks without ever informing the Ludlow family.
Mons. Murray, now Parish Priest of
Cookstown, has been a
well-known crusader for human rights and for the victims of state killings
and collusion for many years, and he long been closely associated with the
victims group Relatives for
Monsignor Murray has been a valuable supporter of the Ludlow
family's campaign since 1998. He kindly supplied a copy of a pathologist's
report which the relatives had never seen before. Monsignor Murray also chaired the
Ludlow family's public meeting at Dundalk Town Hall in 1999 for the
launch of the independent British Irish Rights Watch Report..
Also present was the Rev. Father Brian
McCreesh, a young curate in the local parish of Lordship at the time
of Seamus Ludlow's murder. Father McCreesh, now serving in Kilkerley, County
very kind to the grieving members of the Ludlow family at that terrible time
in May 1976. He helped officiate at the funeral of Seamus Ludlow. His
kindness and the comfort he provided in that time of grief has not been
Father McCreesh, a native of Camlough, South
Armagh, and a brother of the late Raymond McCreesh who died while on
hunger-strike in the Long Kesh H-Blocks in 1981, kindly led the gathering in
prayers for the repose of the soul of the deceased Seamus Ludlow.
The Ludlow family appreciated the great kindness that
Father McCreesh and Monsignor Murray had done by joining them for this
occasion to help them remember and commemorate the late Seamus Ludlow.
I Top I
here is Michael Donegan, with other members of the Ludlow family circle, and
relatives of the victims of the Dundalk
bombing of December 1975, addressing the gathering at the Seamus Ludlow Commemoration, on 29 April 2001.
Jimmy Sharkey stands at extreme right. Also present in the background are
Maura McKeever and Margaret Watters, both daughters of victims of the Dundalk
bombing of 19 December 1975.
Wreaths were laid by, or on behalf of, Kevin Ludlow, Mrs. Nan Sharkey, Mrs.
Eileen Fox, Mrs. Kathleen Donegan and by the families of the late Paddy Ludlow
and Barney Larkin, at the simple memorial to their murdered brother Seamus.
Further wreaths were laid on behalf of relatives of the dead of the
Dublin/Monaghan, Dundalk and Castleblaney bombings.
In the course of his address, Michael thanked many people
and groups, in Ireland, and abroad, for their support for the Ludlow family's
campaign for truth and justice. The list is extensive.
Among the many who deserved appreciation
were: journalists Ed
Moloney, The Sunday Tribune; Anne Cadwallader, Ireland on Sunday; and Aeneas
Bonner, The Irish News; Jane Winter and her colleagues at British Irish Rights
Watch, London; Paul O'Connor and the Pat Finucane Centre, Derry; the Irish
Council for Civil Liberties, Dublin; Monsignor Raymond Murray, Cookstown, and
Relatives for Justice, Belfast; Louth County Council; Newry and Mourne
District Council; Seamus Kirk TD; the late Louth County Councillor Miceal O'Donnell;
Councillors Tommy Reilly and Arthur Morgan; Anne-Marie Eaton and The Dundalk
Democrat; Don Mullan, author and TV3
broadcaster; Professor Bill Rolston, author of "Unfinished
Business: State Killings and the Quest for Truth"; James MacGuill,
solicitor, Dundalk; Toni Carragher and the South Armagh Farmers and Residents Committee;
Bernard Moffatt and the Celtic League; Amnesty International; Karl Winn and
32.net; Justice for the
Forgotten; Liz Walsh of Magill Magazine; Father Brian
McCreesh; the Rooney and Watters families of Dundalk;
Though this dignified commemoration attracted a large
gathering to the small country lane near Ballymascanlan Hotel, the event was
largely ignored by the Irish national press and broadcasters. Only The Irish
News in Belfast reported the event, with no reports in the other national
dailies. The Ludlow family was grateful for some advance publicity provided by
the Irish independent TV3 News and by Anne Cadwallader in the Ireland on
The local weekly Dundalk
Democrat alone produced a detailed report of the Commemoration. This
report can be accessed on another page.
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