‘THE BOMB WENT OFF’
Interviewed on 9 June 2021
Joe Sullivan is a native of Longford who joined An Garda Síochána in March 1967. He retired as a Superintendent. Joe spent many years working in the Cavan and Monaghan area and was there in Killeshandra in May 1974 when when he heard in the distance the Loyalist bombs being detonated in nearby Monaghan Town, killing several people. In this audio, Joe speaks about some of the victims, who he knew personally.
JOHN O’BRIEN: The bodies were gone, and maybe at this stage, because I know you know some of those people personally, the unfortunate people who perished that day and one subsequently. There was Patrick Askin, Thomas Campbell, Thomas Croarkin, Archibald Harper, Thomas John Travers, Peggy White and George Williamson. And some of those you knew personally yourself?
JOE SULLIVAN: I knew three of them. I knew George Williamson, I knew Peggy White, I knew John Travers and I knew Harper, four of them, I knew four of them, personally, I knew them well, yes. Peggy White was a barmaid and my recollection is, now I’m subject to correction, but I think she was walking upstairs.
MR. O’BRIEN: In that pub that we spoke about, yeah?
MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, yes, she was.
MR. SULLIVAN: And I know that Jack Travers was in the doorway or the hallway making a phone call. There must have been a public Was there a public phone in the hallway? At that time there was a public phone.
MR. SULLIVAN: That’s right, but he was making a phone call and the bomb went off outside on the street.
MR. O’BRIEN: You mentioned also that there was a bicycle with a shopping bag on the
MR. SULLIVAN: Yes, George Williamson’s. Now, George Williamson’s bicycle was parked down in Dublin Street, which would be about 100 yards away, up an alleyway with his shopping hung on the bicycle. And some of the neighbours knew who owned the bicycle and He was well known. He was one of those guys who’d come into town every week for his, as they used to say, get the provisions. Do you remember that?
MR. O’BRIEN: Yes, of course, the provisions, absolutely, yeah. And he was a single man I think?
MR. SULLIVAN: He was a single man and he was missing, he didn’t come back for his bicycle. I know that a Garda Cathal Early, he’s the man that went looking for him and eventually more or less put two and two together and worked out that since he was missing and hadn’t appeared for his bicycle around nine o’clock or ten o’clock I think it was in May time, it was May? It was May time, yes. So around ten o’clock at night that he must have been (inaudible) the bomb, and he went up to the morgue. Now, I had gone up to the morgue myself.
MR. O’BRIEN: And what was the scene like in the morgue, Joe? Was anyone recognisable I suppose is the most obvious?
MR. SULLIVAN: No, the answer to that is no, nobody was recognisable. To be quite honest and frank with you and quite candid about it, all there was were bits and pieces of bodies lying on the floor, just bodies left thrown on the floor … And pure black, pure black. You couldn’t recognise anybody, no. There was no bodies, like. They were just literally, mutilated is the word … A shocking scene. There was seven bodies. George Harper (Archibald) was admitted to hospital and he didn’t die for a month afterwards, is that right?
MR. O’BRIEN: Yes, Archibald Harper, yes, yeah.
MR. SULLIVAN: I think he lasted a month. I think a month, yes, as far as I can recall a month.