A Dromore woman robbed of her parents and sister in what she called “an obscene crime” spoke at a memorial service last week of the day “everything changed” for her family.
Almost exactly 40 years ago, on April 7, 1976, Carol Mackey’s sister Noeline (27) and their parents William (64) and Elizabeth (58) Herron died in an IRA firebomb attack on their Market Square drapery store.
It was, said Mrs Mackey - among those gathered at Dromore Orange Hall for the dedication of a new memorial to the murder victims - the saddest day of their lives.
The killings stunned Dromore, the town coming to a standstill for the funerals that followed.
“Many friends and neighbours were struggling to accept the shocking truth, that terrorists had callously taken a family from their midst, without any warning,” said Mrs Mackey, as she paid tribute to her loved ones, deprived of fulfilling their lives, she said, as a result of “the immoral and senseless actions of a number of individuals who one could only describe as terrorists”.
She added: “Family was so important to our parents, who were the perfect role models for us as we grew up. Our memories of them are precious.
“We hope this tablet will show how much the family appreciate the respect, kindness and support shown to them over the years.
“Its dedication reminds us of the strength of their faith, and will perpetuate the memory of the Herron family for future generations.”
Leaders of the Loyal Orders, with whom Mr Herron was associated, attended Thursday’s ceremony, conducted by the Rev Stanley Gamble, 40 years to the day after the murders.
Paying tribute to Dromore Orange Hall Committee for facilitating the memorial, Orange Grand Master Edward Stevenson added: “Forty years may have elapsed but the passage of time will never conceal the barbarity of the republican perpetrators and their heinous - but ultimately futile - campaign of violence.
“Mr Herron was one of over 300 of our members murdered during the Troubles . . . we will always remember our murdered brethren and will always offer support to their families, who continue to live with the suffering and painful legacy inflicted by terrorism.”
Royal Black Institution Sovereign Grand Master Millar Farr, said: “Many families with strong Loyal Order connections suffered grievously at the hands of terrorists. Tonight, we stand together in condemning those atrocities and the people who carried them out. We also want to support the family at this time and show them we understand their pain.”