Sunday 19 November 2017

Eoghan Harris: Following IRA's bloody track from the Bandon Valley to south Armagh

Eoghan Harris

Eoghan Harris

"Ten men in a mini-bus Glimpse a red torchAnd are machine gunned to bits.Flesh rags and blood rags:The narrow mountain roadStrewn with corpsesSlaughtered fish on a slipway,Corpse upon corpse,Workman upon workman,Adorned with works instruments --Sandwich boxes and flasks,Decks of playing cards."-- The Minibus Massacre, Eve of the Epiphany

Paul Durcan's poem on the Kingsmill Massacre came fresh from the furnace of anger and shame felt in the Irish Republic on January 5, 1976, the eve of the Epiphany, on hearing the dreadful news that the South Armagh IRA had taken 10 Protestant workmen from their van, told the single Roman Catholic to run, made the men bunch more tightly together and then shot them down in a scene that seemed straight from hell.

RTE News showed us some of what TS Eliot called the "objective co-relatives", single images that summoned up the horror it spared us: the scattered safety helmets, the lunchboxes, a set of bloodied false teeth.

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