Northern Ireland news

Tribute to five men killed by IRA bomb on Brougher mountain 50 years ago

William Thomas was one of the BBC engineers killed on Brougher mountain
Mairead Holland

A tribute to five men killed by an IRA bomb in Co Tyrone will be shown online tomorrow to mark the 50th anniversary of their deaths.

The men were killed on February 9 1971 at Brougher mountain near Trillick as they travelled to repair a BBC transmitter.

A bomb, believed to be intended for the British army, was detonated when their Land Rover ran over a trip wire.

The blast hurled debris 400 yards down the mountain and left a five-foot crater in the road.

Three of the men worked for Kilkeel-based firm McMullen and Sons. They were John Eakins (52), a married father-of-seven; Harry Edgar (26), who was single; and George Beck (43), a married father-of-two.

Harry Edgar (26)

Two BBC engineers died alongside them - William Thomas (35), who was married with two children, and David Henson (23), who was known as Malcolm and who was engaged.

Kenny Donaldson of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF), which supports Troubles victims, said it is "absolutely essential" the anniversary is acknowledged.

“Fifty years ago there was a huge loss of innocent lives at Brougher mountain, yet little is known of those events beyond the immediacy of those impacted," he said.

"We felt it absolutely essential that this milestone anniversary be acknowledged and that the families be recognised for the horrific loss they sustained and for which little attention has ever been given.

George Beck

“Five hard-working men, the majority of whom had their own families, perished at the hands of the actions of Provisional IRA terrorists that fateful day. There is no formal recognition of the tragedy at the site, no memorial or plaque was ever placed there.”

A tribute film will be published on SEFF’s Victims and Survivors Facebook page tomorrow morning which will include a short service by Rev Alan Irwin.

It will also reflect on the annual pilgrimage of David Henson’s father Leonard who travels to Brougher o play the Scottish lament ‘Lakeland Hill’ at the scene where his son died.

John Eakins

Mr Donaldson said that having liaised with McMullen and Sons, the BBC and the men's families, a granite plaque is also to be erected at the site.

However, due to Covid restictions this will take place later this year, with a short service of dedication to be attended by relatives including the Thomas and Henson families, from Carmarthen in Wales, and Lancashire in England.

The families will also be guests at a SEFF service of remembrance and thanksgiving the following day when a tapestry in memory of the victims will be unveiled.

Malcolm Hensen

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