‘What I wouldn’t give to have Jerry still alive’

Ben O'Sullivan on his retirement from the force in 2001.

Retired garda detective Ben O’Sullivan, left at death’s door by the IRA, yesterday spoke publicly for the first time of the nightmares that haunted him for years after an attack in Adare which claimed the life of colleague Det Garda Jerry McCabe.

Recalling the bloody events of June 7, 1996, the 72-year-old said: “It’s now 20 years on and it still affects me. I have learned to cope with those nightmares that were foisted on me.

“Those nightmares are now in abeyance: The reason being is that time is a great healer and I have healed, thankfully better than I thought I might.”

Scott Medal recipient Mr O’Sullivan tried to hold back tears as he stood by a bust of Det Garda McCabe in Henry Street Garda Station in Limerick, recalling the attack in which an IRA gang surrounded their unmarked car as they escorted a post office lorry with pensions cash and opened fire.

“It is really sad when you realise it all finished in the space of seconds when he was wiped out,”said Mr O’Sullivan.

“It is an atrocity I am more aware of than anybody serving in An Garda Síochána, because I was there. It is a great source of comfort that colleagues have now taken up the mantle, and have not forgotten that atrocity in Adare, have not forgotten Jerry McCabe or me and never will.”

He was joined by Det Garda McCabe’s widow, Ann McCabe, to announce a memorial concert, to aid local charities, which will take place at the University of Limerick Concert Hall on May 26 to mark the 20th anniversary.

A native of Mournabbey, Mallow, Mr O’Sullivan said: “Every time I visit here, Henry Street station, I am reminded. I don’t have to be reminded as I’ll never forget.

“Jerry’s bust here beside me reminds me of 20 years ago. Looking back, it seems like 20 days because it’s so fresh in my memory. I am delighted the McCabe family have recovered to the extent they have from that enormous shock.

“God bless Jerry’s soul. I want to thank the organisers of this memorial concert, under Supt Derek Smart, for acknowledging the atrocity that took place and remembering the tragic loss the McCabe family suffered and for not allowing it to go un-remembered.

“If somebody asked me if I had forgotten it — forgetting something is an impossibility if your memory is ok and thankfully mine is. I have learned to live with it. What I wouldn’t give to have Jerry still alive, but that is an impossibility.”

Mrs McCabe thanked the Garda organisers of the concert to commemorate a “beloved husband, and father”. She said: “We will never forget what happened in Adare. Life goes on. We have wonderful, wonderful, children and wonderful grandchildren and they keep you going and keep you busy. Unfortunately Jerry has not lived to see his children grow up and enjoy his grandchildren.

“But even 20 years on it hasn’t got easier. It never goes away. I just wouldn’t wish it on anybody else. We have lost two wonderful guards in the meantime and they will never be forgotten. This concert is a wonderful tribute to Jerry and Ben, the living memory who is lucky to be alive with what he went through. Sadly Jerry was not that lucky.”

Tickets are now on sale for €20. www.uch.ie


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