Sister of Blitz victim remembers her baby brother at special anniversary Mass

Julia McCoey lights a candle in memory of her brother Manuel Loughran who died in the Blitz. Picture by Matt Bohill
John Monaghan

A WOMAN whose baby brother died in the Belfast Blitz said last night she was "delighted to have the opportunity to remember him" at a special Mass in memory of the victims 75 years on.

Julia McCoey (77) was just three years old when her family home at Wall Street in Carrick Hill in north Belfast was "blown to bits" on the night of April 15 1941.

More than 900 people died when almost 200 Luftwaffe planes attacked the city on a night of relentless bombing.

Mrs McCoey's brother, Manuel Loughran, who was just six weeks old, died from injuries suffered in the bombing.

She told The Irish News: "I come from a family of 11 and everyone survived except Manuel.

"My mum rounded up all of us. We had a house in Ardglass and we went there immediately in a neighbour's taxi. My brother was buried in Downpatrick.

"We lived in Ardglass for a while and then eventually came back to live in Carrick Hill when my dad got the house repaired."

She said she always marked the anniversary by lighting a candle in memory of her baby brother.

"I'm just delighted to have the opportunity to remember my brother with this Mass. We just feel we have to do something to remember him."

Several priests celebrated the Mass at St Patrick's Church in Donegall Street near Belfast city centre along with Noel Treanor, the Bishop of Down and Connor.

Parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan said that it was important to remember a "dark shadow which engulfed our country and our continent".

He said: "Many of the victims were never identified and were buried in a mass grave - 123 unidentified victims were placed in graves in the City Cemetery, and there was another mass grave in Milltown.

"They were men, women and children who died because of an insatiable desire for power and gain... the actions of a flawed philosophy."

Fr Sheehan said that night 75 years ago would also be remembered for "ordinary people doing extraordinary things."

"In the midst of darkness there were always, and there always will be, acts of courage and selflessness. Wardens, fire and ambulance services, good neighbours. They were woven like golden threads into the darkness.

"We must continue to inform the present generation of the horror of war. The answer to the most profound questions is not a political theory.... it is the person of Jesus Christ."

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