Omagh Bombing: Most of 28 dead were women and children

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The Independent Online
OMAGH WILL be remembered as the bomb that massacred women and children. That much became clear yesterday as the identities of the casualties emerged.

Fourteen women, five men and nine children met their deaths. They included three generations of one family: a woman heavily pregnant with twins, her mother and her 18-month-old baby.

The dead boys included three from the seaside town of Buncrana, over the border in Co Donegal in the Irish Republic, whose families had been playing host to a group of Spanish exchange schoolchildren; hosts and guests were on a visit to the Omagh carnival.

Two of the Buncrana boys were neighbours: Sean McLaughlin, 12, and Oran Doherty, eight. The third boy was James Barker, 12, son of a solicitor whose family moved to Buncrana from England about a year ago. A 12-year- old Spanish boy, Fernando Blasco, and one of his teachers, Rosia Abad Ramos, aged 24, both from Madrid, also met their deaths.

In all the carnage, the Grimes family bore the heaviest single toll. Avril Monaghan, 30, her 18-month-old daughter Maura, and her mother, Mary Grimes, 65, were on a shopping trip to Omagh when the bomb exploded and killed them all.

Mrs Monaghan, from the small village of Aughadarna, a few miles outside the town, was survived by her husband, Michael, and two daughters and a son, the eldest of whom is six. Mrs Grimes, a mother of 12, was from Beragh where her husband, Mick, is a farmer.

The Catholic Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady, who visited the families yesterday, said they were too distressed to speak publicly of their loss. Mr Grimes's brother, James, is a priest in Whitecross, his archdiocese, the archbishop said, adding: "The family are just totally devastated. They are just so shocked."

The tiny village of Beragh lost another member of its community. Esther Gibson, who had recently become engaged, was a young Sunday school teacher for Ian Paisley's Free Presbyterian Church.

The Democratic Unionist leader said that he knew Ms Gibson and described her as "a dedicated Christian and a fine children's worker".

Behind every death lies a devastated family. The Logue family are republican and vote Sinn Fein. Brenda, 17, was a promising athlete and Gaelic football goalkeeper. On Saturday, she was out shopping with her mother, Mary, and grandmother, Philomena. She went into Kells, a clothing store, when the bomb went off. Her mother and grandmother survived, but Brenda was killed.

Her father Tommy, waiting at the leisure centre yesterday morning, said: "I knew all along. The front of the shop had been blown out, no one could have survived that." Her older brother Sean, 20, cried as he said: "I loved her to bits. Now she is with God."

Friends of young Dundee university student Julie Hughes, 21, who was working part- time in a shop in the high street, wept as they remembered her as "bright and bubbly". She, like hundreds of others, ran into the full force of the blast.

Geraldine Breslin, 35, was killed as she ran from the clothes shop where she worked. Her husband, Mark, and 14-year-old son, Gareth, were being comforted at their home in Omagh.

Kevin Skelton is a widower at the age of 43, having lost his wife, Philomena, 39. She was out shopping with three daughters, trying to get one a school uniform from Kells at the time of the explosion.

He said yesterday: "I saw my wife. She was lying on top of the rubble, she was face down and some of the clothing had blown off her ..." His voice faded.

After a while he continued: "I felt her pulse, and knew she was dead. But I have had to wait for almost 13 hours to hear this officially."

Adrian Gallagher, 21, died shopping for a pair of jeans. He had been missing for more than 12 hours before his family were told he was dead. Michael, his father, who had a brother, a UDR soldier, shot dead by the IRA in 1984, said the family was devastated.

He said: "It's all so futile. We all thought we had peace. We all voted for peace, including Adrian. This isn't a sectarian family because bigotry would be the worst sin in this house."

It was no less terrible for families of those who had been maimed. Twelve- year-old Alastair Hall was out shopping with his mother, Gwen, for a pair of school trousers when the bomb exploded. He was taken to a hospital in Londonderry, where he is coming to terms with the loss of a leg.

At the family home his father, Lindsay, produced a 1991 World Cup rugby jersey. "Look at this. Alastair loved to play, now he won't be able to do that again. For God's sake, he was only 12. I am 57, why couldn't it have been me?" He has two other sons, both of whom were yesterday flying home, Michael, 21, from Edinburgh and Gareth, 19, from the United States.

Victims Named

The following names of victims killed in the blast had been released last night:

Mary Grimes, 65, a mother of 12 from Beragh.

Avril Monaghan, 30, from Aughadarna, Mrs Grimes's daughter. A mother of four who was pregnant with twins.

Maura Monaghan, 18 months, Avril Monaghan's daughter.

Geraldine Breslin, 35, shop worker, married with one son.

Julie Hughes, 21, Dundee University student who was working at a photo shop for the summer.

Esther Gibson, in her 30s, a Sunday school teacher who worked in a local factory and had recently become engaged.

Francisco Blasco Baselga, 12, exchange student from Madrid.

Rocio Abad Ramos, 24, from Madrid, school supervisor.

Philomena Skelton, 39, mother of four from Omagh.

Brenda Logue, 17, schoolgirl from Omagh.

Samantha McFarland, 17, voluntary worker in charity shop.

Lorraine Wilson, 16, voluntary worker in charity shop.

Alan Radford, 17.

Anne McCombe, 48, from Omagh.

Adrian Gallagher, 21, from Omagh.

James Barker, 12, from Buncrana.

Sean McLaughlin, 12, from Buncrana.

Oran Doherty, 8, from Buncrana.

Gareth Conway, 18, from Aughiogan.

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