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Friday, August 13, 1999 Published at 15:25 GMT 16:25 UK


Special Report

Omagh survivors battle the odds

Claire Gallagher still loves to play piano despite her injuries

Survivors of the Omagh bombing have battled to overcome horrific injuries as they attempt to regain a sense of normality in their lives.

A major new documentary to mark the first anniversary of last year's Real IRA bomb atrocity will be screened on BBC 2 on Sunday night.

The film focuses on the lives of two young people in the year since the 15 August blast in which 29 people were killed and 350 were injured.

The Search for Peace
Steven Coyle and Claire Gallagher both suffered horrific injuries in the explosion which devastated most of Market Street on a busy Saturday afternoon.

Close to death

The film, which is narrated by the Oscar-nominated actor Liam Neeson, shows harrowing scenes captured shortly after Steven was admitted to hospital and follows him on his route towards recovery.

Steven himself may not have realised how close to death he really was in those weeks immediately after the bombing.

Instead of playing with his friends like other boys his age, Steven spent most of the last 12 months in intensive physiotherapy to regain the use of his right arm.


[ image: Steven Coyle: climbing mountains on his way to full recovery]
Steven Coyle: climbing mountains on his way to full recovery
The hard work has paid off for Steven as he is now swimming and he recently climbed Donegal's highest peak, the imposing Mount Errigal.

He recounts his memories of the day the bomb went off. "I was stepping off a kerb - then I just remember being blown up in the air and being blasted back.

"Then I remember looking and my daddy coming over to me and helping me."

Claire Gallagher was only yards from the bomb when it exploded and she sustained facial injuries after being hit by a shrapnel fragment.

Showed fighting spirit

According to medical staff at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, these injuries were among the most serious they had to treat.

Despite losing both eyes, she showed true fighting spirit and was invited to play alongside the world famous Phil Coulter at a special St Patrick's Day reception hosted by President Bill Clinton in the White House.

A lifelong Manchester United fan, she was also in Omagh to welcome the treble winners on their recent visit to the town.

"I become a little annoyed at times but I don't dwell on it," she said. "The way I think of it I'm still here with my friends and family and can still play and talk with my brothers and sisters.

"I'm thankful for that."

The documentary, Omagh - the legacy, is due to be broadcast on BBC 2 at 2205 BST on Sunday to mark the first anniversary of the bombing.



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