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Tuesday, 4 December, 2001, 22:38 GMT
Memorial to bar bomb victims
Wreaths were laid in memory of the victims
Wreaths were laid in memory of the victims
A memorial has been unveiled to mark the 30th anniversary of a loyalist bombing in Belfast in which 15 people died.

Men, women and children lost their lives in the explosion at The Tramore Bar - better known as McGurk's - in North Queen Street on 4 December 1971.

Many others were injured when four loyalists, operating under a cover name for the paramilitary Ulster Volunteer Force, bombed the bar in a Catholic area of the city.

Only one of the bombers - the driver of the getaway car - was ever convicted.

People helped to find others buried in the rubble
People helped to sift through the rubble

The families are now calling for an inquiry into the atrocity, which some felt had been largely forgotten.

Pat Arthus was just 14 when her mother, Kathleen Irvine, died in the explosion.

Pat was playing out in the street when the bomb went off.

"I remember running down to the scene. It was just completely flattened," she said.

"People just came from everywhere. They were on their hands and knees. They were passing the rubble one by one. They were in a big line.

"You heard them shouting: 'There's one, there's one'.

"It was just total chaos. Soldiers threw their guns down on the ground to help the people from the New Lodge Road dig."

The atrocity shocked people in the area
The atrocity shocked people in the area

Later, she went home and found her grandmother in the house crying, after learning that Pat's mother and father had been caught up in the bomb.

Her father was seriously injured.

"After that was like a total blur, because people were coming in and out of the house," she said.

"There were that many different stories being told.

"My granny gave me and my brother wee jobs to do about the house. To go in and make the tea, tidy up, to try and keep us busy.

"But you were hearing people saying things like they were bringing people out in black bags. It was terrible, it really was."

She also recalled the pain of seeing her father, who has since died, cope with the loss of his wife.


This was a family-run bar and it was people like my mummy and daddy that went to talk with each other and just pass the time of day

Pat Arthus

"I remember at night after my mummy had died, listening to my daddy crying and calling for her. I remember my granny, she was 80-odd years of age, going into him," she said.

"When I looked into the room she was cradling her son in her arms. 'It's all right Johnny,' she said. 'It's all right'.

"This seemed to go on every night, where he cried and he relived the whole explosion. It was a very sad time."

Some reports at the time suggested the bar was frequented by political activists, that the bomb belonged to an IRA team in transit and was a republican 'own-goal'.

But this was rubbished as "ridiculous" by local residents.

Pat said: "You were saying to yourself: 'Who killed my mummy? Why did my own people kill my mummy?

"At the back of your mind you knew it wasn't our own people that had done it.

"This was a family-run bar and it was people like my mummy and daddy that went to talk with each other and just pass the time of day for a pint or an orange and then come home again."

Seven years after the bomb, a UVF man received 15 life sentences after he was convicted of the bombing.

On Tuesday night, a number of events were held to mark the anniversary of the atrocity.

  • A memorial was unveiled on the site of the bar

  • Mass was held at St Patrick's Chapel, Donegall Street. Fifteen wreaths were placed on the altar to remember the dead.

  • Relatives and friends of those who died led a candle-lit procession to the site of the old pub

  • A photographic exhibition was held at the local recreational centre, covering media reports of the event.
  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Pat Arthus talks to the BBC
    about the bomb which killed her mother
    BBC NI's Rosy Billingham:
    "The building simply collapsed"
    See also:

    20 Oct 00 | Northern Ireland
    Buddhist meets victims of violence
    13 Jun 00 | Northern Ireland
    Prince meets Troubles victims
    26 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
    Victims' groups get 700,000
    Links to more Northern Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


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