A new memorial tablet in honour of a Dromore family murdered by IRA terrorists will “perpetuate” their memory for future generations, a close relative has said.
Carol Mackey paid tribute to her parents and sister at a memorial service yesterday evening conducted by Rev Stanley Gamble to mark the 40th anniversary of a fire bomb attack which stunned the Co Down town.
In April 1976 an incendiary device destroyed the family’s Market Square drapery store and the family home above it, killing William Herron, 64, his wife Elizabeth, 58, and daughter Noeline, 27.
Speaking at the dedication of a granite memorial stone at Dromore Orange Hall, Mrs Mackey paid a poignant tribute to her deceased relatives.
“Everything changed for our family on the morning of Wednesday, April 7 – the saddest day of our lives,” she recalled.
“The immoral and senseless actions of a number of individuals, who one could only describe as terrorists, resulted in the murder of our much loved parents and sister.
“Dromore came to a standstill for their funeral. Many friends and neighbours were struggling to accept the shocking truth, that terrorists had callously taken a family from their midst, without any warning.”
She said the “obscene crime” deprived her parents and sister from fulfilling their lives, including spending cherished time with their family and future grandchildren.
“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 appreciates 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.”
Mr Herron was closely associated with the Loyal Orders as a member of Closkelt LOL 415 and Closkelt RBP 449. The latter’s banner pays tribute to the late draper.
The leaders of both the Loyal Orange and Royal Black Institutions participated in the memorial service.
Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson said: “The sheer awfulness of the Herron family atrocity caused shock waves not only in Dromore but right across Northern Ireland and further afield.
“Forty years may have since elapsed, but the passage of time will never conceal the barbarity of the republican perpetrators responsible and their heinous - but ultimately futile - campaign of violence.
“Mr Herron was one of over 300 of our members murdered during the Troubles. As an Institution, 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.
“I pay tribute to the Dromore Orange Hall committee for their hard work and dedication, working alongside relatives, to facilitate this permanent memorial. Our thoughts and prayers remain with the Herron family at this difficult time.”
Sovereign Grand Master of the Royal Black Institution Millar Farr said: “Sadly, 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. And we want to make it very clear that we will always be there to support them in any way we can.”
Three people, including two women, were jailed for the attack. However, in 1985 the two sisters were given early release under the Royal Prerogative.
The Herron family say they continue in their quest for justice.