Six Pub Blast Victims Buried in Belfast

The Irish Times, Wednesday 8th December 1971
The Irish Times, Wednesday 8th December 1971

For such a short article, its words resounded as I worked this evening, and not only because it recounted the funerals of six of the fifteen victims of the McGurk’s Bar bombing including my own grandmother, Kathleen Irvine.


Blogger John  Ó Néill sent me this article from The Irish Times of Wednesday 8th December, four days after the bombing, as he knew I am about to publish a short paper on Lord Gerry Fitt.

It was a fearful procession. First the father of a young family followed by a schoolboy. Nanny’s next, meeting James Smyth’s before joining the husband and wife who were killed. As mourners shouldered my grandmother and Mr. Smyth’s coffins “some girls… jeered” as they passed Gallaher’s factory.

There were another nine to bury. As many passed the bottom of the Shankill, shrieking and laughing Loyalists sang “Bits and Pieces”.

I spot inaccuracies in the piece. Edward Kane was 29 and from Ashton Street. My grandmother’s cortege joined Mr. Smyth’s in Victoria Parade, the street in which she had lived. The names of Philomena and Maria are wrong.

Journalistic mistakes may be sloppy but they happen.

We all make mistakes.

What resounds for me, though, above the grieving and the scorn is the penultimate paragraph, for in it Mr. McGurk, the owner of the bar who had just lost his wife and daughter, had to answer disinformation which the British state created and promoted in the media.

“A bomb could not have been planted inside the bar” it is reported he said. “There was no suitcase there”.

The fictitious bomb in a suitcase was a lie created by the RUC. The British state sought to criminalize innocent civilians through its disinformation and The [British] Times was content to print its lies just days before.

It is difficult but I hang on Patrick McGurk’s final words. “He said that he would not like the tragedy to create bitterness”.

It is difficult… but I know he is right.



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