UVF bomb killed Geraldine, 15, as she bought chips

Brother and sister Geraldine and Anthony O'Reilly from Belturbet. Co Cavan, in happier times. She died in a loyalist bomb in the town in 1972 aged 15. Her brother, who was five years older, survived the explosion.

Brother and sister Geraldine and Anthony O'Reilly from Belturbet. Co Cavan, in happier times. She died in a loyalist bomb in the town in 1972 aged 15. Her brother, who was five years older, survived the explosion.

A Co Cavan man whose 15-year-old sister was killed by a loyalist bomb as she bought chips says his main hope for the future is for peace to continue.

Anthony O’Reilly was particularly close to his sister Geraldine when she was killed by a bomb in their home town of Belturbet on December 28, 1972. It is believed to have been left by the UVF.

Anthony, now 67, says the loss of his sister Geraldine in the 1972 bomb devastated his family.

Anthony, now 67, says the loss of his sister Geraldine in the 1972 bomb devastated his family.

“She was only 15 at the time and she used to come nearly everywhere with me,” said Anthony, 67, who was five years older than Geraldine.

“She was the youngest of the family [of eight]. I was pretty fond of her and she kind of looked up to me. She was a very shy kind of a girl, a nice girl.”

Geraldine hoped to become a nurse or a teacher.

Anthony often wonders how she would have grown up and if she would have had her own family. He wonders too what would have become of their friend Patrick Stanley, also killed in the blast, aged only 16.

Scrapbook photos of Geraldine and Anthony O'Reilly in happier times before she was killed in the 1972 bomb.

Scrapbook photos of Geraldine and Anthony O'Reilly in happier times before she was killed in the 1972 bomb.

On the night of the bomb, Geraldine went with Anthony to leave their eldest sister home to the other side of town.

On the way home Geraldine went into the chip shop while Anthony waited in the car.

Anthony thought he had fallen asleep, but in fact the bomb knocked him unconscious.

“I don’t know how I survived it. I was closer to it than anyone.”

He went looking for his sister but Gardai took him to identify her. “They brought me into the chip shop and I seen Geraldine there lying on the floor.”

He added: “I was feeling shocking bad because I knew then that Geraldine was dead.”

His father and mother were devastated. “They never really got over it. She was the youngest in the family and she was going to be the last leaving the house.”

The Gardai took statements at the time, but nobody had noticed anything. They still call him occasionally but there is no progress.

“Both governments possibly know a lot more about it... they just don’t want to get involved. They want to forget about it.”

The group Justice for the Forgotten in Dublin are campaigning for truth, and Anthony praises support provided by the South East Fermanagh Foundation.

While the recent high profile funeral of Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness angered many who believed his senior IRA role had been too easily set aside, Anthony was more pragmatic.

“I know he was involved in a lot of things - in the IRA and that - but you have to admire him the way he turned round. Only for him and the Good Friday Agreement I think there would be a lot more dead.”

A monument to his sister and Patrick set up in Belturbet brought “a lot of peace” to his family.

“It was great for the last 20 years - the peace and that. I hope it does continue because it saved a lot of lives.

“Sure, what was gained over the whole [of the] Troubles was only two or three acres of graveyards.”