herald

Saturday 1 November 2014

Losing my mum is a wound that won’t heal

a WOMAN who lost her mother in the Dublin bombings when she was just 11 years old has told how she believes the tragedy also claimed the life of her father.

Fiona Ryan lost her mother, Maureen Shields, in the Talbot Street blast on May 17, 1974.

She believes her dad died of a broken heart just two years later.

Unbeknown to her family, Maureen, a mother-of-three, had travelled into town that day in order to have a key cut and was set to surprise her husband Leo, who worked in Guiney’s.

“It’s always tough, it’s been 40 years. Sometimes it feels like a lifetime and sometimes it’s like it only happened yesterday and I’m 11 again,” Fiona told the

“After the blast Daddy rang home to let us know he was all right. We were so relieved. We never thought we had any reason to worry about Mammy.”

But as the hours passed without their mother’s return, the family became desperately concerned.

“My brother Aidan went into town and started checking the hospitals and the morgue. My poor father wasn’t able to go back in,” said Fiona.

FORGOTTEN

“In the early morning we got the call to say Aidan had identified her body.”

“My dad wasn’t able to cope after that. He died a year and nine months later. His death cert says it was a bronchial condition but I believe it was a broken heart.

“He couldn’t cope without her and it was heartbreaking to see him deteriorate.”

The suddenness with which the tragedy was forgotten has always stayed with Fiona.

“We were just like forgotten people. It wasn’t spoken of, just three months after it happened, everything was wound down. We just had to get on with things,” she said.

“But 40 years on and I still find it difficult to talk about. It’s like you have a scab and someone scratches it and each time it opens into a deep crevice of a wound that never heals.”

Fiona believes that without closure, the wounds of that day will never heal.

“After 40 years we need this. There has to be accountability. I made a very conscious decision when I was 13-years-old,” she said.

“The bombs took my mother, the bombings took my father, they were not going to take me.”

hnews@herald.ie

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