Omagh bombing

Daughter of seriously injured Omagh bombing couple writes song about atrocity

Cara McGillion, the daughter of Omagh bombing survivors Donna Marie Keyes and Garry McGillion. Picture by Mary Rafferty, Press Association
By Rebecca Black, Press Association

THE daughter of a couple seriously injured in the Omagh bomb has penned a song about the atrocity.

Cara McGillion (17) said she was inspired to write Empty Promises because it was about a subject so close to her heart.

Her mum Donna Marie was one of the worst injured in the 1998 bomb and was initially given a 20 per cent chance of survival.

Cara's father Garry also suffered severe burns in the blast which came just a week before they had been due to wed.

"I wanted to write about something close to my heart," she said.

"I listened to the stories from my mummy and daddy and the other families."

The teenager said she has been overwhelmed by the response to her song online.

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It is also set to feature in a UTV documentary about the atrocity which is to be broadcast on the anniversary of the bombing, August 15, at 10.40pm.

Cara is set to sing at a memorial event for the bombing on Sunday as part of the Omagh Community Youth Choir. They will sing another song written for the event.

Donna Marie Keyes and Garry McGillion kissing after their wedding at the Sacred Heart Church in Omagh in 1999. Picture by Paul Faith, Press Association

Donna Marie (42) said her daughter's song is very poignant.

"She wasn't born when the bomb happened, but she has lived with it in terms of both her mummy and her daddy," she said.

"It's very poignant.

"She would have got a hard time the odd time about, 'why does your mummy look like that', and when you don't fully understand it, it is hard.

"Writing that song was very therapeutic for her.

"But they have coped very well with it. I am very proud of both my children."

She said the anniversary of the bomb was always difficult for her, and said she sometimes felt guilty because she survived.

"I feel extremely lucky that I am here and that we have been able to have a life," she said.

"It's very hard because at the same time you feel slightly guilty because you know the people that were in town with you, shared that street with you, shared that lovely sunshine – there was a buzz about the town – that they are not here anymore. That is heartbreaking."

The couple, then engaged, had been in Omagh with friends for some last-minute shopping ahead of their wedding which had been due to take place the following week.

A shop sign fell on Donna Marie which Garry struggled to lift off to try and save her. He was also badly burned.

Donna Marie paid tribute to her family and all the medical staff who looked after her.

When Donna-Marie and Garry wed in Omagh in March 1999, they were greeted with crowds applauding.

"It was a really really special day," she said.

"It was really surreal when I got out at a chapel, there were loads of people there, I got a big round of applause.

"It was a lovely day for the family, but even that day we still remembered all the people [that died], but that is just something that we are always going to do.

"It would have been very easy to get angry, there were times that I thought, 'why me', but I always say I am not going to get angry and I am not going to get bitter because if I do that, then they have won.

"They slightly distorted my life, but they didn't ruin it."

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