Claudy bombing the widow: Northern Ireland must never return to the horror of 1972

A woman whose husband was killed in the Claudy bombing 50 years ago has insisted Northern Ireland will never return to its troubled past.

Nine people, Catholics and Protestants, were killed and 30 injured when three car bombs exploded in the quiet village of Co Londonderry on July 31, 1972.

Among the victims were Kathryn Eakin, nine, who cleaned the windows of the family grocery store, Patrick Connolly, 15, and William Temple, 16.

Artie Hone was among nine people killed in the Claudy bombing (Family handout/PA)

The adults killed were Artie Hone, 38, Joseph McCluskey, 39, Elizabeth McElhinney, 59, James McClelland, 65, Rose McLaughlin, 52 and David Miller, 60.

The attack was blamed on the Provisional IRA, although the group never claimed responsibility.

An intercommunity service is to be held on Sunday with readings and hymns in the presence of churches.

Mr Hone’s widow, Anne Bradley, told the PA news agency that the day remains vivid in her memory.

She recalled how her husband was in the village with their four-year-old daughter, Michelle, in the car.

Anne Bradley touches a plaque dedicated to her late husband Artie Hone (Liam McBurney/PA)

“He entered the store to take a message and was walking back to the car when the bomb went off,” she said.

“Michelle was fine, the roof of the car collapsed on her but she just had a cut behind her ear. Her dress was covered in glass. She was very scared but she doesn’t remember anything, which is good.

“I only lived about 200-300 meters from the village, I ran, our son Paul was six years old, I took him with me and told him to stand at the gates of the middle school for that I was going down to see what was going on.

“It was just pandemonium in the street, glass, slates and stones.

The last photo of Artie Hone with his children Paul and Michelle (Family handout/PA)

“I met the school principal, he told me Artie was injured and was going to the hospital, but he didn’t let me down to see him.

“It’s a small country village, it was the last thing we expected.

“I had a hairdressing business in the village, everyone got along so well, everyone supported each other.”

Mr Hone was fatally injured in the blast and died more than a week later in hospital.

Ms Bradley remembers leaning over to whisper in his ear, ‘I’m here’, as she sat by his bed.

“He lived for 12 days but never regained consciousness, he only had head injuries,” she said.

“I went to the hospital that night and spoke in his ear, and told him I was there.

“It was good to have them (their children), without them it would have been much more difficult.”

No one has ever been convicted for the attack.

Ms Bradley said she saw no hope for justice at this stage.

“It’s not bringing people back, and I think at this point now I’m going to go on for the rest of my life and leave the people who did it to God,” she said.

“Claudy has always been good, people have always mixed well. Thank God there are no more bombs now, please God it will never go back to that because it would be terrible if we had to go through that again.