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,
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
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
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
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.