Claudy “an explosion too loud for your eardrums to bear”

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On this day on July 31st 1972 nine people lost their lives in a bomb attack on the village of Claudy in Co. Derry.

No one captured the ordinariness and extra ordinariness of life and death in that village that morning than the late poet James Simmons, who composed the the following lyrics:

 

The Sperrins surround it, the Faughan flows by,

at each end of Main Street the hills and the sky,

the small town of Claudy at ease in the sun,

last July in the morning, a new day begun,

How peaceful and pretty if the moment could stop,

McElhinney is straightening things in his shop,

and his wife is outside serving petrol, and then

a girl takesa cloth to a big window pane.

 

And McCloskey is taking the weight off his feet,

and McClelland and Miller are sweeping the street,

and delivering milk to the Beaufort Hotel,

young Temple’s enjoying his first job quite well.

 

And Mrs McLaughlin is scrubbing her floor,

and Artie Hone’s crossing the street to a door,

and Mrs Brown looking around for her cat,

goes off up an entry – what’s strange about that?

Not much – but before she comes back to the road,

That strange car parked outside her house will explode,

and all of the people I’ve mentioned outside

will be waiting to die.

 

An explosion too loud for your eardrums to bear,

and young children squealing like pigs in the square,

and all faces chalk white and streaked with bright red,

and the glass and the dust and the terrible dead.

 

For an old lady’s legs are ripped off and the head

of a man’s hanging open, and still he’s not dead.

He is screaming for mercy, and his son stands and stares

and stares, and then suddenly disappears,

And Christ little Katherine Aiken is dead,

and Mrs McLaughlin is pierced through the head.

Meanwhile to Dungiven the killers have gone,

and they’re finding it hard to get through on the phone.

 

Click play below to listen to this song:

 

 


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About Author

Eamonn Mallie

I am a regular contributor to discussion programmes on TV and radio both at home and abroad. An experienced political editor and author specialising in Politics, Security and 20th Century Art.

3 Comments

  1. Statement from Martin McGuinness on the 40th anniversary of the Claudy bombings, includes:
    “The deaths and injuries caused in Claudy on 31 July 1972 were wrong.
    “The events of that day were appalling and indefensible and they should not have happened…
    “It is my firm view that we need to find a better way of dealing with the legacy of the conflict which goes beyond individual acts of commemoration or remembrance and begins to deal with the very real hurt that exists throughout our society.
    “All of the families of those who died or were injured deserve and are entitled to the truth about the deaths of their loved ones.”

    Jim Allister responds: “Let McGuinness now tell us all he knows about Claudy.”

  2. Very profond lyrics. I have family live in and around Claudy and that fateful day is remmbered with such clarity and sadness. The apoligists for the IRA and their political spokesmen have to come clean about their actions that day…We hear the word ‘equaility’ used alot but if there is to be equality for all then there has to be equality for all the victims of our troubled past, wheither that be for the Bloody Sunday victims or the Bloody Friday voctims.