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Sunday 21 September 2014

Woman urges review of grenade tragedy that killed her brothers

Published 25/03/2013 | 05:00

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A WOMAN who, as a child, survived a grenade blast that claimed the lives of her two young brothers has said she still suffers terrible nightmares from that day almost half a century ago.

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Margaret Rose Hughes was just five years old when she miraculously survived the explosion on her family's farm in Tullyhattina near Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in August 1964.

Tragically her two brothers – Michael (9) and Seamus (7) – were killed when the grenade, believed to have been from the War of Independence, blew up.

The children were playing when they found the grenade in a shed and it is believed that one of the boys was hammering on it when it went off.

Their mother, Rose Hughes, who has since passed away, was getting the family's tea ready at around 5pm on August 14, 1964, when she heard a "terrible bang outside".

"I rushed out and saw the two boys lying on the ground. Margaret Rose was screaming and bleeding a lot," she told the Irish Independent at the time.

Michael was killed instantly in the explosion while Seamus died in his mother's arms a short time later.

The tragedy shocked the local community and has left a lasting impact on Ms Hughes, who is now aged 53, and the psychological scars are still present today.

"My life since that terrible day has been an ongoing nightmare . . . I can't go out socially or enjoy myself like other women and I am on daily medication," she said.

Ms Hughes, who still lives in the family home, said her parents died without getting an apology from the State over what happened to their family.

She said that while nothing could replace her brothers, some state recognition of the tragedy, even all these years later, would be a "great relief".

Ms Hughes is now appealing to members of the Oireachtas to help her push for a re-examination of the tragedy.

"It doesn't seem right that such a terrible tragedy, which wiped out part of our family, should remain ignored by the State.

"I would be available to give any assistance, or information that is required, for a full cold-case examination of the tragedy."

Irish Independent

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