Rescuers who pulled the dead and injured of the Mountbatten party from the wreckage of the 1979 IRA bombing have said they hope the visit by the Prince of Wales will bring him closure.
Peter McHugh, one of the key figures in getting the bodies and survivors from the water off Mullaghmore, Co Sligo on August 27 1979, said Charles showed signs of relief.
“I suppose it was a very joyous occasion and at times quite an emotional occasion because it just brought back the memories of what happened on the day,” he said. “Obviously being so close to Lord Mountbatten it must have been very difficult for him.”
Mr McHugh, in his 20s when the atrocity which claimed four lives took place, has lived all his life in the village and escorted Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall on their visit.
He was joined by Timothy Knatchbull, who was 14 at the time and survived the blast, and his wife Isabella, as they met hundreds of well-wishers before private meetings with the Maxwell family, who lost their son Paul aged 15, in the terror attack.
“Paul was a very valued member of the community and much-loved, so it brings back those memories,” Mr McHugh said.
“Today is just another step in the healing process.”
Speaking of the impact of the prince seeing the murder site first hand Mr McHugh said: “I think he was hugely relieved that he has come here and I think it will be of huge benefit to him.”
Meetings with rescuers took place in the Pier Head Hotel overlooking the harbour in Mullaghmore where the dead and injured were rushed to on makeshift stretchers after being taken from the water.
Lord Mountbatten was murdered along with three others.
Lady Doreen Brabourne, 83, the mother-in-law of Mountbatten’s daughter died one day later, Nicholas Knatchbull, the earl’s grandson and aged only 14, and his teenage friend Paul Maxwell, from Killynure, Enniskillen, who prepared the royal boat for fishing trips.
Mr McHugh’s mother and sister, both nurses, were among those to give first aid.
A number of people from the area who witnessed the bombing or knew the Mountbattens were visibly moved by the prince’s visit.
Richard Wood-Martin, who helped with his wife Elizabeth to pull Timothy Knatchbull from the water minutes after the blast, was in another boat only about 200m from the explosion on Shadow V.
“There was a puff of smoke, a loud bang and a shower of bits of timber and the boat was gone,” Mr Wood-Martin said.
“How they survived I can’t understand.”
On the rescue of Mr Knatchbull, Mr Wood-Martin, who lives in Mullaghmore, said: “I managed to pull him on to the boat. He was face down in the water.”
His wife added: “He was going down for the last time. I pulled his hair as my husband pulled him on board.
“We had a great reunion. It was a terrible experience.
“We were delighted we could save someone and we hope today will be a closure.”