On the eve of Prince of Wales’ emotionally charged visit to Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, where the 1979 IRA bombing began one of the bloodiest days of the Troubles, locals spoke of time for healing.
The atrocity claimed four lives — Mountbatten, Doreen Brabourne, the 83-year-old mother-in-law of his daughter, his grandson Nicholas Knatchbull, 14, and Paul Maxwell, 14, from Enniskillen, who was in the village for the summer and worked on the royal’s boat.
The killing of the 79-year-old, Prince Charles’ grand-uncle and godfather, brought to a sudden and bloody end the family’s 30-year connection with the west of Ireland.
A few hours after the remote control bomb, as shockwaves reverberated worldwide, the IRA struck again detonating two 800lb bombs at Narrow Water in Co Down, killing 18 soldiers.
But Lord Mountbatten’s assassination and the deaths of three others in the blast, made Mullaghmore synonymous with republican terror.
Peter McHugh, a local resident, was in his early 20s when he witnessed the aftermath of the bombing and helped pull bodies ashore
“Mountbatten spent probably 30 years of happy times with himself and his family there and I think it should be remembered for that aspect as well as the ending of his life,” he said.
The royal visit to Mullaghmore will include a peace and reconciliation service in St Columba’s Church in nearby Drumcliffe, the burial spot of poet WB Yeats.
The four-day visit to the Republic and Northern Ireland will begin with a visit to the NUI Galway, before a private dinner with President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams last night confirmed party representatives will attend a number of events during the visit.