Wednesday 13 December 2017

Wexford village remembers wartime bomb victims

Church bells rang out in a quiet Wexford village today to mark the 70th anniversary of a deadly German bomb attack.

Three women were killed when four Luftwaffe bombs were dropped over the Shelbourne Co-op in Campile at the height of the Second World War.

Decades after the 1940 blast, local people gathered at the site of the former creamery to pray and remember the tragedy.

Their silence was broken by the tolling of bells from nearby churches at 1.50pm - the moment the devices exploded.

This weekend, survivors, relatives and public figures are also set to attend the unveiling of a memorial garden and sculpture at the site.

Councillor Larry O'Brien, one of the organisers of Saturday's event, said the bombing would never be forgotten in the close-knit village.

"The impact was devastating for miles and miles around," he said.

"All those people were back at work the following morning.

"Three of their friends had been killed. They didn't know why the place was targeted or for what reason and we still don't know."

The women, Kathleen Hurley, 27, and sisters Mary Ellen, 30, and Kitty Kent, 26, were in the Co-op's canteen when the bombs fell.

Just minutes beforehand, the room had been full of workers eating lunch.

"At the time the Shelbourne Co-op was the centre of the village, there were hundreds of people working there," Mr O'Brien said.

"If it had happened earlier, there would have been a lot more killed."

A contemporary sculpture of rare Italian marble has been created for the garden by Co Wexford artist Ciaran O'Brien and his German partner Anika Lintermann.

The piece was commissioned by local developers who acquired the site of the old Co-op in 2008 for a housing and retail project.

Among those attending the official opening will be German Ambassador Busso von Alvensleben and Fisheries Minister Sean Connick.

"I think the people in the village will appreciate the German ambassador attending the event," Mr Connick said.

"Terrible things are done in wartime and in peacetime we commemorate the people who tragically lost their lives.

"There were very few bombings in Ireland during the Second World War so to lose three people in one village was a very big event.

"These were three women who went to work and never came back - we should never forget them."

Press Association

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