Wednesday 15 August 2018

Family discovers heartbreaking recording of boy 20 years after death in Omagh bombing

Victim Oran Doherty
Victim Oran Doherty

Leona O'Neill

The sister of one of the youngest victims of the Omagh bomb has revealed how hearing his voice for the first time in 20 years was "beautifully poignant, but heartbreaking".

The family of eight-year-old Buncrana schoolboy Oran Doherty had the emotional experience after finding a toy tape recorder in the attic of their Co Donegal home.

Oran had recorded himself singing songs, telling jokes, talking to his little brother and singing his baby sister to sleep.

After the child's death in the 1998 blast, his father found it too difficult to look at his toys and put them away.

Oran's sister unearthed the recorder at Christmas and the siblings gathered together on Christmas Eve to listen.

For Lisa (38), it was a hugely emotional moment that brought back memories of a brother so loved and missed.

She said the 20th anniversary of the atrocity has been one of the hardest yet.

"That morning I remember him coming in to my room," she said.

"I had been on my holidays in Spain and I had brought back some hard boiled sweets.

"I heard Oran rummaging about in the sweetie packet.

"He woke me, and I asked him what he was doing.

"He held out his little hand and showed me four sweets - he was a bad traveller and thought they helped him with sickness on the bus.

"I told him he could take as many as he wanted, but he said he only needed two for the way up to Omagh and two for the way home.

"But he never came home.

"That was the last time I saw my little brother.

"He was brought home in a coffin.

"Later that day I was in the Main Street in Buncrana and someone told me there was a bomb in Omagh. My heart just sank and I got a sick feeling in my stomach.

"We went to my mother's house and we met my mother in the street.

"She was hysterical.

"Hours went by and we heard that our cousin Emmet, who was with Oran, was found, was injured and was going for surgery.

"Then we heard that Oran was OK and was on the bus home.

"We were so relieved.

"We went to the bus and we watched all the children get off, except Oran.

"As the day went on we knew it wasn't good.

"The next morning daddy called home and my mum told him little Sean McLaughlin was dead.

"My daddy just said: 'And so is our wee Oran'.

"It's a moment I will never, ever forget. It will haunt me forever."

After Oran's death his heartbroken parents put away his toys as they were too painful to look at.

At Christmastime the toy recorder was unearthed which had Oran's voice on it and the family were able to hear him for the first time in 20 years.

"Oran got a little tape recorder and microphone from Santa that year and had carried it about with him singing and talking into it," she said.

"My sister had found the recorder. She asked daddy if she could listen to Oran's voice on her birthday.

"We were in my parents' house on Christmas Eve and daddy came in with it and said we could listen.

"He couldn't listen to it himself.

"It was so hard to hear his little voice.

"I just remembered it so well, him singing songs and talking to his little brother and sister, humming and having a laugh with them, rocking them to sleep and singing them songs.

"He was such a happy little boy."

As the 20th anniversary approaches, Lisa said it doesn't get any easier.

"I'm strong but I think about it more now than I ever did," she said.

"My youngest son Bobby is eight years old, the same age as Oran was.

"There are so many similarities between Bobby and Oran and I definitely find it a lot harder to talk about now.

"No one was ever convicted.

"That would make you angry if you started to think about it.

"If I could speak to the people who did this, I would ask them how they sleep at night.

"I don't know how they can live with that on their conscience, or walk about doing their normal life knowing what they have done.

"I would ask them to be a good human being and put your hands up and say you did it.

"I think they should be honest with the families. We deserve some sort of truth."

Related Video:

Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News