Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks
Part of the Troubles
Location Silverbridge, County Armagh & Dundalk, County Louth Ireland
Coordinates 54°00′32″N 6°24′18″W / 54.009°N 6.4049°W / 54.009; -6.4049Coordinates: 54°00′32″N 6°24′18″W / 54.009°N 6.4049°W / 54.009; -6.4049,
Date 19 December 1975, first attack 18:15, second attack 21:00
Attack type
Bombing, shooting
Deaths 5 civilians
Non-fatal injuries
Perpetrators Ulster Volunteer Force and Ulster Defence Regiment members
Locations of 19 December, 1975 UVF Attacks
Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks is located in Northern Ireland

On 19 December 1975, two coordinated attacks were carried out by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) in pubs either side of the Irish border. The first attack, a car bombing took place outside Kay's Tavern, a pub in Dundalk in the Republic of Ireland close to the border. The second attack, a gun and bomb attack, took place at Donnelly's Bar & Filling Station in Silverbridge, County Armagh just across the border inside Northern Ireland. [1] The attack has been linked to the Glenanne gang, a group of Loyalist militants who were either members of the UVF, the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and the closely linked UVF paramilitary the Red Hand Commando (RHC), some of the Glenanne gang were members of the two of these organizations at the same time like gang leaders Billy Hanna who was in both the UVF and the UDR and who fought for the British Army during the Korean War and John Weir (loyalist) who was in the UVF and was a Sergeant in the RUC. [2] At least 25 British soldiers and police officers were named as members of the gang. [3]

The Attacks

According to journalist Joe Tiernan the attacks were planned and led by Robert McConnell and Robin "The Jackal" Jackson who were both alleged to have carried out dozens of sectarian murders during The Troubles mainly from 1974 - 1977 mostly in south Armagh which in 1975 was virtually lawless and Loyalist paramilitaries and the Provisional IRA roamed the streets and countryside and could set up bogus military checkpoints freely.

The attack was planned at the Glenanne farm of RUC reserve officer James Mitchell which was were most terrorist acts were planned by the gang and the farm also acted as a UVF arms dump and bomb making site. After the attacks were finished everyone involved in both attacks was to meet up at Mitchells farm. Then if there was any heat Mitchell could claim the bombers and shooters were with him when the attacks happened [4]

The first phase of the terrorist plan started at around 18:15 along Crowe Street in Dundalk when a 100-pound no-warning bomb exploded in a Ford Sports car just outside Kay's Tavern. The blast killed Hugh Waters who was a tailor and had just dropped into the pub to deliver some clothes he had altered for the pubs owner almost instantly. Jack Rooney who was walking past the town hall on the opposite side of the street was struck in the head by flying shrapnel and died three days later. A further 20 people were injured in the explosion, several of them very seriously. The car bomb was fitted with fake southern registration plates and placed in one of the busiest streets in Dundalk in the hope of causing maximum death and injury. According to Joe Tiernan, UVF commander Robin Jackson planted the bomb and along with other members of his unit escaped across the border in a blue Hillman Hunter around the time the bomb went off. [5]

At around 21:00, about three hours after the Dundalk bombing the second phase of the coordinated terrorist plan which was led by McConnell took place at Donnelly's Bar & Filling Station in the small Armagh village Silverbridge close to Newtownhamilton. As the unit arrived in two cars came unusually fast towards the pub, the publican's teenage son Michael Donnelly (14) who was serving petrol to a customer noticing the strange speed of the cars ran towards the pub to warn people, but before he could make it inside McConnell jumped out of one of the cars and shot the teenage boy dead with a Sten gun, McConnell then shot the man Michael Donnelly had been serving petrol to in the head, although the man survived the shooting he was maimed for life. Then a second gunman who is believed to be Billy McCaughey a UVF volunteer and a member of the RUC Special Patrol Group shot dead a second person, local man Patrick Donelly (no relation to the pub owners family) who had been waiting for petrol. McConnell then went inside the pub and sprayed the bar with his Sten SMG, killing a third man called Trevor Bracknell and seriously injured three other people. As McConnell withdrew back to his car, two other members of the unit carried a 25-pound cylinder bomb inside the pub. While McConnell's unit fled back to Mitchells farm, the bomb went off in the pub but by this time most of the people had already ran out of the pub. The explosion at Kay's Tavern destroyed about 80% of the building and it started a huge fire and injured a further two people were injured, one of the injured men had lost a foot and a hand in the explosion. Nobody has ever been charged for these crimes.

Aftermath attacks

  • 1

On 31 December not even a forthnight, just 12 days since the Dundalk and Silverbridge attacks, Irish Republicans strike back. The INLA left a bomb in a duffel bag in a pub called the Central Bar in the mainly Protestant town of Gilford in County Down. When the bombers were safe away the bomb exploded killing three young Protestant civilians having a good time drinking and enjoying each others company. About 15 people were injured in the blast also.[6] But this attack at Gilford was not to avenge those who had been killed at Dundalk or Armagh, it was to avenge the death of an INLA political activist who had been killed by the UVF on 15 December [7]

  • 2

Reavey-O'Dowd killings Just five days after the Gilford attack on 4 January 1976. Glenanne Gang members went viciously wild one night & decided to try and whipe out entire families. First they burst into the Reavey house, they were a Catholic Family. Then three gunmen shoot dead the three Reavey Brothers, John (24), Brian (22) and Anthony (17) Reavey. Another brother Eugene Reavey said Eugene Reavey, said "Our entire family could have been wiped out. Normally on a Sunday, the twelve of us would have been home, but that night my mother took everybody [else] out to visit my aunt" About a half an hour later another UVF gang burst into the O'Dowd's house, they were another Catholic family and there was 16 people in the house at the time, a gunman walked into one room and just sprayed it with bullets killing O'Dowd brothers Barry (24) and Declan O'Dowd (19) and their uncle . All three were members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party]], Barry and Declan's father was injured in the attack. [8]

  • 3

Kingsmill massacre Just two days later the IRA (using the covername "Republican Action Force") hit back ruthlessly and brutally hard against 11 Protestant civilians on their way home from work. Near Kingsmill along the Whitecross road the IRA set-up a checkpoint, stopped a minibus, they took the whole 12 people, all males of the bus and lined them all up against the side of the bus, they asked was anyone a Catholic. One person said "yes", one of the gunmen told the Catholic to run as fast as he can and not to look back. Now there was just 11 Protestant workers lined up against the bus. The lead gunman then said "Right", and the others immediately opened fire on the workers.[24] The eleven men were shot at very close range with automatic rifles, which included an AR-15, an M1 carbine and an M1 Garand. A total of 136 rounds were fired in less than a minute. 10 people were killed and one person barely survived the shooting. John Bryans (46), Robert Chambers (19), Reginald Chapman (25), Walter Chapman (23), Robert Freeburn (50), Joseph Lemmon (46), John McConville (20), James McWhirter (58), Robert Walker (46) and Kenneth Worton (24). Alan Black (then 32) was the only one who survived the third worst shooting incident of The Troubles in terms of deaths behind the Ballymurphy Massacre 11 killed and Bloody Sunday 14 killed. [9] [10] [11]

  • 4

After the horror at Kingsmill the large scale attacks didn't happen again, at least not for five months. On 15 May 1976, five Catholic civilians were killed in two separate attacks by the UVF. In the first attack a UVF bomb killed two Catholic civilians and injured several more at the Avenue Bar on Union Street in Belfast city. The second attack took place in South Armagh, the Glenanne Gangs favorite place to operate. In this attack on a pub called Clancey's Bar in Charlemont a further 3 people died and dozens injured. [12]

Later that the IRA killed three RUC officer in a landmine attack near Belcoo RUC station, County Fermanagh 5* The next day 16 May, the IRA hit back for the Avenue's and Clancy's bar attacks. They shot dead two Protestant civilians outside a social club on Alliance Road in Belfast. An off-duty Protestant RUC officer was also shot dead which brought the total to three innocent Protestants [13]

These type of attacks went on for the rest of the year. [14]

See Also


  1. ^
  2. ^ The Cassel Report (2006),; retrieved 28 September 2013.
  3. ^ Lethal Allies: British Collusion in Ireland - Conclusions,; accessed 7 May 2015.
  4. ^ The Barron Report (2003), pp.144–145.
  5. ^ Joe Tiernan: The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings And The Murder Triangle (2006) pp.226.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :'s_Bar_and_Kay's_Tavern_attacks
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Donnelly's Bar and Kay's Tavern attacks"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA