Abercorn bomb 50th anniversary: I’m sitting in the chair with my arms folded, the next thing I’m floating through the air, says compere

Trevor Kelly, who was compere in the Abercorn on the afternoon of the IRA bomb, told how events unfolded for him.

He said: “I had just introduced the cabaret act, Maxton G Beasley, it was about half four, because we finished at five o’clock on a Saturday.

“I had just walked out into the foyer and sat on a chair waiting for him to finish his act, then I’d be driving home to get my tea and come back for that night.

“I’m sitting in the chair with my arms folded, the next thing I’m floating through the air. I didn’t hear a sound but I knew exactly what had happened. It’s still imprinted in my brain even though it’s 50 years ago.

Trevor Kelly on stage with Clubsound

“It felt like I was floating in the air for a considerable amount of time but obviously that wasn’t the case. Then I was lying on the floor. I couldn’t see a thing. There must have been a lot of dust and dirt and stuff flying around.

“I felt my legs to see if they were still there and then I heard George’s voice over the PA telling people to remain calm and file out through the emergency exits.

“I thought to myself, ‘it must be ok in the cabaret room’. I pulled myself up and orientated myself towards George’s voice. I went through the double doors into the cabaret room and started walking. I must have turned slightly to the right because I ended up in the gents’ loo.

“You had to go through two doors – a little air lock – to go into the toilet. When I was in there I could actually see because of the air lock. I looked at myself in the mirror and I’m totally grey from head to toe.

Trevor Kelly performing in the Abercorn

“I went to the window and looked out into the street and saw the devastation out there – the debris was everywhere. There was a woman holding a child in her arms, covered in blood screaming. There were other people lying in the street amidst the debris. I thought I’d better get out.

“I must have been in shock because I came out of the loo, went upstairs to the third floor, got myself cleaned, combed my hair, changed my clothes and then left. I should have got out right away.

“I found out afterwards when we went back in, that had I walked straight through the double doors (of the cabaret room) there was a big hole in the floor above where the bomb had exploded which I could probably have fallen through if I’d taken that route.”

Trevor was a fixture in the Abercorn for around 10 years, before and after the bomb.

He said: “It took a while after the bomb for people to come back. There was a drop off when it happened, but they did come back eventually.”

He said the Abercorn was a place of entertainment where friendships were forged.

Trevor recalled: “The level of entertainment was always very good with the odd exception here and there. Dermot, the owner, did his best to keep it going throughout the Troubles.

“We got people into the Abercorn from both sides of the fence so to speak, there wasn’t any sectarianism that was obvious. Everyone got on very well when they were in the place. They enjoyed the craic and the fun, the music and the entertainment came from all over the world.

“My abiding memory is the friendships that I made, the music that I experienced and learnt from.”

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