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Omagh One August

Almost twenty years ago this month; on Wednesday 15th August 1998, an act of terrorism known as the ‘Omagh Car Bombing’ took place, in Omagh town, [ Irish Óghmaighan or Ómaigh meaning “The virgin plain” ], in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. The bombing was carried out by a group calling themselves the Real Irish Republican Army, (IRA), latter a Provisional IRA break away splinter group, who totally opposed the IRA’s ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement or Belfast Agreement. Latter had been agreed on 10th April 1998, and overwhelmingly further approved in two referendums in both the North and South of Ireland, in May 1998.

The Good Friday Agreement gives prominence to the ‘principle of consent’, which affirmed the legitimacy of an aspiration to a United Ireland, while recognising a current wish for the majority of people living in Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom (UK).

The bombing, on that day, killed 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) and injured 220 others. This death toll was higher than any other, one, single incident of terrorism during the period that history records as ‘The Troubles’, (1968-1998).

Omagh One August

By Thurles Author & Poet Tom Ryan ©

On the eve of the Sabbath in August, they crucified Jesus again,
Bombing the good and the gentle, the women, the children, the men.
Our people are weeping forever, their blood on the streets of shame,
As history and history makers mock with the old refrain.

Oh, more than our tears for the trouble, oh, more than mere words for the dead.
Oh, heaven and pity embrace us and gentleness rule us instead.
What now for the Gentle Seer?  What now for life’s joyful song?
And I long, how I long for the music that is neither right nor wrong.

On the eve of the Sabbath in August, when we the people have died
Innocence bombed to oblivion on the altar of dubious pride.
On the eve of the Sabbath in August, forever in time to be,
The good, the innocent, the gentle will praise humanity.

Will triumph, as triumph they must, when sad, shameful history is done,
When hearts, now fashioned in metal, are loving in unison.
On the eve of the Sabbath in August, whoever, whatever to blame,
Oh, love now where is your grandeur? Oh, history where is your shame?

End

Tom Ryan, “Iona”, Rahealty, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.

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