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Mother's emotional return to scene of son's death

Paul Maxwell

The mother of a Co Fermanagh boy killed in the Mullaghmore blast has made an emotional return to the fishing village that she had vowed never to set foot in again 36 years ago.

Mary Hornsey's 15-year-old son Paul Maxwell, from Killenure in Enniskillen, was working as a boatboy when he died after a 1979 IRA bomb destroyed the fishing boat Lord Louis Mountbatten used during his annual holidays in the Co Sligo village.

The still-grieving mother got up at 5am yesterday to travel to nearby Drumcliffe Church to meet Mountbatten's great-grandnephew Prince Charles at a prayer service for peace and reconciliation in nearby Drumcliffe.

Afterwards, she was among those who joined the prince and the Duchess of Cornwall when they met individuals involved in the recovery of the remains of the dead and the treatment of the injured.

Speaking later, Ms Hornsey, who now lives outside Belfast, told The Irish News that the day's events had "meant a great deal to me."

"It is something that I would not have missed for the world. I came here wondering how I was going to handle this. I was full of apprehension about it," she said.

Ms Hornsey revealed that the service had a huge impact on her, adding: "My goodness, what a change."

"I felt the forgiveness in the church and the feeling of warmth and generosity, and extending the hand to others and sort of nearly giving them a hug. It was palpable and it was just a marvellous experience."

She described as "fantastic" the singing of school children, who included Bethany McLoughlin (17), whose grandfather Gerard McKinney was among the 13 Bloody Sunday victims.

"It was just marvellous and I felt I wanted to get up and dance," she revealed.

The tearful mother said that the day's events had been a significant step in her own healing process.

Ms Hornsey said that she had always believed she would never see the village where she lost her son again.

She spoke of how she had returned to Mullaghmore two weeks after the explosion, adding: "I brought some red roses and walked around to the headland where the tragedy had happened and I threw the roses in the water.

"I said ‘goodbye' to my son and the others who had been [killed] there. And I also said ‘goodbye' to Mullaghmore. And I never thought that I would come back, but I did today. And I am glad for it and I mean to come back again," she said.

Ms Hornsey said that the journey had brought back a great many painful memories of the family's time in Mullaghmore and the tragic loss of her child, "because you see the place where it happened."

She had previously appealed to the IRA bombers to apologise for the murders of those on board the fishing boat.

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