Sunday 16th July

The Irish Adventure of Richard Kukura and Tommy Hulme and the fate of their Beaufighter JL710

Sunday 16th July 2006

Tommy Hulme's daughter Jan with her husband Jake Keen and their two sons Barney Tom and Nathaniel had arrived at their booked accommodation at the Lake Avenue House less than half a mile from St Mogue's Island on Saturday 15th July and that evening were taken to a music and drama evening organised and sponsored by Mervyn Richardson in a local pub, the Viking, Aughawillan.

Regrettably Bryan and Stephanie Kukura weren't able to attend as their Easy-Jet flight from Glasgow was delayed for nearly four hours. Their day had not gone well for them, a taxi hadn't arrived when it should have then they found the flight was delayed, first by half an hour then progressively longer periods during which time the passengers were disembarked. I understood that a part for the aircraft had to be flown up from Stanstead near London. When the part had finally arrived and been fitted passengers were permitted back on to the aircraft but two of their number couldn't be located in the terminal buildings so another delay ensued while their luggage was located in the hold of the aircraft and removed. Eventually the flight left Glasgow and arrived at Belfast International Airport slightly before midnight.

The drive down to Bawnboy was uneventful in my twenty eight year old car but it was of course too late to attend the music night in the Aughawillan pub which ended earlier and had closed shortly before we arrived.

Stephanie, Bryan and I were offered a light meal at Isabel's home Bug's Green and we finally got to Templeport and to bed at about four thirty.

On Sunday morning as the Kukuras had expressed a wish to attend Mass at eleven o'clock in St Mogue's Chapel in Bawnboy. Kevin McCaffrey the treasurer of the JL710 Committee collected them and took them to the Service where they were welcomed by Fr Tom McKiernan and prayers said for Richard and Olga.

After Mass I took Stephanie and Bryan over to the Lake Avenue House were we met the Keen family for the first time. We had lunch at the Keeper's Arms Bawnboy then soon after two o'clock went to the landing jetty from where the County Council boat was operating the ferry service to St Mogue's Island. It was a hot afternoon with a slight breeze which made it comfortable . There was a large crowd still waiting to go to the Island and we had to 'Queue Jump' to be there for the Ecumenical Service of Remembrance which was scheduled to start at three o'clock but couldn't until an hour later as there were so many people still waiting for the ferry boat over. As there were still so many people waiting to be taken to the island Aidan Brady volunteered to ferry people in his boat which reduced the waiting time somewhat and most people who wanted to go to the Island eventually got there. Regrettably some who wanted to saw the long queue and couldn't wait. Some observers estimated that there were over two hundred people on St Mogue's Island. The raft which had been modified for the attempted lifting of the non existent engine was moored over the place where gallons of oil had surfaced and many of the recovered pieces of JL710 were found two weeks earlier.

The Service of Remembrance was opened by piper Padraig McGovern, Councillor Peter McVitty welcomed everyone then Canon Thomas Murray and Reverend Geoff Wilson led the prayers, both gave short sermons which were particularly relevant to the events of St Patrick's Night 1943. (Click to read the text of the Remembrance Service on St Mogue's Island
Isabel Rofé and Oliver Brady alternately read the following prayers. The Religious Service concluded with the Lord's Prayer and the Grace after which Councillor Sean Smith summed up and thanked all those involved.

After the ceremony on St Mogue's Island most people went to the Templeport Resource Centre, normally know as 'The Community Centre' where sandwiches, cakes, deserts, ice cream, tea and coffee were being beautifully served by Breege and Deidre Cosgrove with their many helpers.

When everyone had had their fill Peter McVitty welcomed Brendan Smith T.D. Minister for Food and Agriculture, Seymour Crawford T.D. other County Councillors, the visitors from Australia and England and other celebrities and guests. The politicians made speeches but there was little animosity between the parties. There were plenty of photographs taken but unfortunately I don't believe anyone recorded all the sound. Presentations were made to the families of the crew of JL710, two paintings of the Beaufighter as it was approaching it's final destination by local artist Patrick Duffy, and a CD recording of the radio programme which had been transmitted earlier in the week by local radio station Northern Sound. The recipients responded graciously.

The raffle prizes were drawn and presented by Councillor Sean Smith and Councillor Peter McVitty then the official proceedings were closed.

It had originally been intended to show our invited guests the places where their relations had landed by parachute on Monday but as Jan Keen had to return to England on that day we were able to advance the trip to Sunday evening. Some of the JL710 Committee members with Jan, Jake, Barney Tom, Nathaniel Keen and Dennis Burke travelled in Packie Joe Brady's minibus to Corlough were we walked up to Quinn's hill, Tommy Hulme's landing place then down to the remains of the house at which he had been given directions to the presbytery where he had been given the shoes.
From there we got back on the bus up the short hill to the presbytery where some took photographs. James Joseph 'Tucker' McGovern arrived on the scene outside Corlough Chapel and spoke for a while about what his father had told him of St Patrick's night 1943.
We then continued our bus journey towards Swanlinbar stopping briefly at Paedar a Vore's crossroads immortalised in two of singer and entertainer Percy French's songs 'Eileen Ogé' and 'Phil The Fluter's Ball'.
As we aren't yet sure of what way Tommy may have either walked through part of the village of Swanlinbar or bypassed it altogether on his way to Kinawley in county Fermanagh we turned right and drove up to Moherreagh where Richard landed.

At Moherreagh outside the house where Richard had been given the bacon and eggs we were welcomed by Frank Reilly who in 1943 had lived further up the mountain.
Frank showed us all where Richard had landed and told publicly for the first time in sixty three years how he had been the man who had been sent for to guide Richard across the border. (Remember that Richard had told us that a young boy had been sent to get a man who guided him to safety.) It was only earlier on Sunday that Frank had eventually been persuaded by Pauric, one of his sons to admit the truth about his activities that night in March 1943. Frank had told me in the Templeport Community earlier in the afternoon of his change of mind and intention to admit the truth. He had first told Brendan Smith T.D. only that morning! The story was certainly a scoop for me as so many people had told me what Frank Reilly had done but when I'd asked him directly he'd always directly and emphatically denied it.
Alys Hearte the journalist from the national radio station R.T.E. who had been with us recording much of the discussions, stories and events recorded the full admission and the following Tuesday morning it was transmitted on the radio programme 'Morning Ireland' with a small piece of Richard's interview transmitted the previous week from Northern Sound local radio station.
Frank Reilly indicated that he would be happy to talk to Richard and we hope that perhaps some radio station, possibly R.T.E will organise such an interview and discussion or chat between the only two people who we know who met sixty three years ago on 'The Night The Plane Came Down'.

On our return from Moherreagh we went to Isabel's home, Bug's Green, Templeport where the alcohol was flowing and Willie Seaman, Eddie Brogan and others were preparing a Barbeque for all who had been involved in the success of the day's events. The festivities were still in progress when I left sometime after two o'clock!

On Monday Sue and John Patterson who had been unable to come for the previous day's events came here for lunch, we were joined by Jake, Barney Tom, Nathaniel, Stephanie, Bryan, Isabel, Eddie Brogan, Willie Seaman and Dennis Burke. Unfortunately Jan had left to catch her bus back to Dublin for her flight from there back to Bournemouth.
After lunch Jake, Barney Tom, Nathaniel and Isabel took the rowing boat to St Mogue's Island where they dived and found quite a number of other pieces of aeroplane including several pieces of Perspex from the cockpit windscreen and some curved pieces which may well be from Tommy's cupola.

Finally I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the JL710 Committee to thank all those who contributed so generously not only financially but with mental and physical labour, their time and tremendous effort for the success of Sunday's events.

More photographs and articles may be found on the Newspaper & media articles page.

Some of the photographs taken on Sunday
For larger images please click on the thumbnails then use you 'Back' button to return to this page.
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Stephanie Kukura

Queue waiting for the ferry

Families with Rev Wilson & Canon Murray

Barney & Jan Keen with Alys Harte

The crowd on St Mogue's Island

Peter McVitty opening the proceedings

Canon Murray's address

The Congregation

Rev Wilson 's address

Sean McGovern playing the Ilian pipes

Rev Wilson with the Kukuras

Emma Graham presenting a piece of JL710 to Bryan

Keens and Kukuras holding a piece of Beaufighter JL710

The ferry on its way back after the Island ceremony

Frank Reilly talking to Bryan Kukura

The crowd at Templeport community centre 1

The crowd at Templeport community centre 2

The crowd at Templeport community centre 3

Minister Brendan Smith T.D

Seymour Crawford T.D.

Peter McVitty presenting the painting to Kukuras

Peter McVitty presenting the painting to Keens

Both the Crews' families with artist Patrick Duffy 1

Both the Crews' families with artist Patrick Duffy 2

Jan keen holding the painting

Stephanie & Bryan Kukura holding the painting

The JL710 committee with guests 1

The JL710 committee with guests 2

Near where Tommy landed

Corlough Chapel

Frank Reilly admitting he helped Richard back to the North

Frank Reilly showing Alys Hearte where Richard landed
 There are many more photographs, please click here to go to the full thumbnails index to veiw them.