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The scene of the Belturbet bombing in 1972. garda press office

Senior garda makes plea for people to come forward and help them find Troubles terror bombers

Nobody has been charged in relation to the crime.

A SENIOR GARDA officer has called on people to come forward and help them solve the 50 year mystery of the bombings of three Irish towns that killed two children and a man.

At 10:28pm on the 28 December, 1972 a car bomb exploded outside Farrelly’s Bar and McGowan’s Drapery on Main Street, Belturbet.

Two children, Patrick Stanley (16) of Clara, Offaly, and Geraldine O’Reilly (15) of Drumacon, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, were killed instantly; eight more people were injured.

A loyalist group had always been suspected of carrying out the bombing. However, nobody has been charged in relation to the crime. 

There were two other so-called no warning bomb attacks in Clones, Co Monaghan and Mullnagoad, Pettigo, Co. Donegal.  

A man died when he fell from the roof of a house in Clones as he tried to repair the damage following the blast.

In an impassioned plea this morning Assistant Commissioner Michael McElgunn called on people, on both sides of the border, to help.

“We are appealing for people here and in Northern Ireland to consider the matters raised today – does anything jog a memory? Do you have any information that might assist?

“50 years have passed. Families have suffered indescribably. Parents have gone to their graves without answers. Do you know something you, have you held a secret for too long? It’s never too late to talk – please contact us,” he said. 

Collage Maker-19-Dec-2022-01.38-PM Paddy Stanley and Geraldine O'Reilly who were killed in the Belturbet bombing. Garda Press Office Garda Press Office


The events in 1972 took place at night with two car bombs and one container left in a public house. 

Gardaí said today that at 10.28 pm on 28 December 1972 a bomb which was contained in a red Ford Escort exploded outside Farrelly’s Bar and McGowan’s Drapery on Main Street, Belturbet, Co. Cavan. Two children, Patrick Stanley (16) and Geraldine O’Reilly (15), were killed in the Belturbet area. Eight other persons were injured.

Shortly before the Belturbet Bomb, at 10.01pm on 28 December 1972, a bomb inside a blue Morris 1100 exploded in Fermanagh Street, Clones, Co. Monaghan. Two men were seriously injured.

A local man from Clones, Patrick McCabe died on 4 January 1973 when he fell from a roof that he was repairing that was damaged in the Clones bomb. His death left a widow and eight children without a father.

At 10.50 pm on 28 December 1972, a bomb exploded outside a licensed premises called Britton’s in Mullnagoad, near Pettigo, Co. Donegal. The bomb had been left beside the pub in a container. One woman was injured.

Patrick McCabe (RIP) Patrick McCabe who died why trying to fix bomb damage in Clones. Garda Press Office Garda Press Office

Speaking today Chief Superintendent Alan McGovern said that there are people alive today who knows who carried out the attacks.

“They may not have been able to speak at that time or since. Perhaps relationships have changed, and with the increasing passage of time, maybe they feel able to speak or as they are getting older, now may want to speak before an opportunity to do so is lost.

“I ask them to make contact with the investigation team and to help An Garda Síochána get answers for the families of those killed and injured in Belturbet, Clones or Pettigo,” he said. 


The garda investigation is focused on identifying the person depicted in a photofit of the driver of the stolen red Ford Escort as compiled by the Garda at a checkpoint at Aghalane Bridge.

They also want to identify the person depicted in a photofit of the driver of a Blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 stolen from Main Street, Belturbet.

They are also asking for help to identify the driver and passengers of the Blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 stolen from Main Street, Belturbet.

The suspect who was the driver is described as 18 years old, 5’8” thin build, long thin pale face, long dark brown hair (curly), very conspicuous nose, wearing a dark blazer double breasted with wide lapels, collar and tie, wore a silver or steel band around his wrist.

The description of the girl in the rear of the car was 18-19 years old, fairly tall, blonde hair coming down over shoulders, parted in the centre and pushed away from forehead, sharp featured, pale complexion, long dark overcoat (maybe red), polo neck pullover.

The description of men who got into the same car is that they were both dark haired, hair not as long as the driver’s hair, both about 20 years, (appeared taller than (1) above dark conservative clothes, well groomed, Northern accents, All appeared to be well dressed.

The gardaí have also asked people to identify “individuals” who were in Belturbet on 28 December 1972, one of whom was wearing a distinctive ‘DUNLOP’ jacket.

The description is 25/28 years old, 5’11” to 6’0” approx., dark brown or black bushy hair, not too long, sidelocks, broad/round face, fresh smooth complexion, very well built.

He wore black leather or plastic ‘wet look’ jacket with zip fastener, high collar turned up at back, side pockets, the word ‘DUNLOP’ in white ¾” lettering on breast or sleeve of jacket, large grey or white squares on trousers, and spoke with a northern accent.

Photofit #1 Garda Description of Driver of Red Ford Escort at Aghalane Bridge Customs Post.

The second person was 23 to 25 years old, 5’7” or 5’9”, straight dark coloured hair, medium length and well groomed, long oval shaped face, pointed chin, light build, wearing expensive looking black jacket, side pockets, bell bottom trousers, collar and tie. He wore a watch with gold bracelet.

They are also looking for information in relation to the whereabouts of the registration plates from the lagoon blue Ford Cortina registration number BIA 477 which was stolen from Belturbet on 28 December 1972 – they have never been recovered.

There is an appeal also to identify the man who was observed driving a stolen Morris 1100 in Northern Ireland on 28th December 1972 who is described as having missing fingers.

The car that contained the Clones bomb, a blue Morris 1100, registration number 431 LZ had been stolen from a car park in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh between 6.30pm and 7.35pm on 28 December 1972.

Gardaí have received information that a person who is missing some fingers was observed driving a stolen blue Morris 1100 on 28 December 1972 in Northern Ireland.