Son Saoirse Na Heireann: ‘The Three Volunteers’ – Carty, Crowley And Loughran

A piece from the 1916 Societies website by Sean Bresnahan in memory of three dead political activists  from Tyrone who died in the service of the IRA.
The IRA's dead

On a warm summer’s afternoon, Monday 25th June 1973, three IRA Volunteers approaching the town of Omagh on a bombing mission were killed on Active Service with the 1st Battalion, East Tyrone Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann. While on their way to mount an attack on the town’s RUC barracks the bomb they were transporting exploded prematurely on the final run-in to their target, not far from Healy Park on the Gortin Road. Paddy Carty, Sean Loughran and Dermot Crowley were killed instantly; Ireland had lost three more of her gallant sons to the war against British rule then raging in the north of the country. Fuair siad bhas ar son saoirse na hEireann. They died in the people’s struggle for a sovereign Ireland free from British occupation. We remember them with pride.

Paddy Carty and Sean Loughran came from Dungannon town in Tyrone and joined the republican movement upon the reorganisation of the IRA in the county following the tumultuous events of 1969 on the streets of Derry and Belfast. Paddy had been born into a republican family in Bundoran but moved with his parents from their Donegal home as an 11 year-old boy. A man of strong mind and independent conviction, it was inconceivable that the British attack on the nationalist people of the six-counties would go unanswered by Paddy Carty. Paddy was to become a highly-renowned Volunteer and organiser with Oglaigh na hEireann, his escape from the Curragh Internment Camp and participation in many telling attacks on the security forces the stuff of legend. He died as he lived, a fearless young man with a heart of gold prepared to stand up to injustice and oppression and to put the needs of others before his own.

Sean ‘Crow’ Loughran is recalled by those who knew and loved him as a man of great wit and humour, a rascal of a man who could lighten almost any situation with his craic. Invariably described as a daring Volunteer who played a full role in the struggle, he joined the IRA as a 17 year-old in 1953, going on to participate in the Border Campaign until his arrest and internment in Crumlin Road Gaol. Upon his release and the eventual failure of the campaign he moved to England where he met and married his wife Pauline. They had two children together, Fergal and Kathleen, but when the various injustices imposed on the nationalist people of the six-counties resulted once more in open rebellion in the heady summer of 1969 he could not stand idly by and returned to Active Service with the IRA, participating to the fullest extent in the war against Britain until his untimely death outside Omagh in the June of 1973.

Young Dermot Crowley, an 18 year-old Volunteer with the Cork Brigade, Oglaigh na hEireann, was and is an example of how Ireland will remain one country and one entity in the minds of our people regardless of Britain’s attempts to cement its partitionist ‘settlement’ here. Recognising that the freedom struggle taking place in the occupied north in no way differed from that fought on the streets of Cork City 50 years beforehand, Dermot and his close friend Tony Ahern joined the front-line of the war in Ireland and were seconded to units in the six-counties. Inseparable in life, they returned to Cork a mere six weeks apart as martyrs, dying in separate incidents as they pursued the struggle for a sovereign, free Ireland and the establishment of a democratic republic. The many people in Tyrone who kept Dermot in their homes during his stay in the county speak of him with a deep and reverent pride and remember him fondly as ‘the Cork lad’.

Oh gather ’round comrades, a sad tale I’ll tell
Of three Volunteers who went out one day.
To free dear old Ireland was their only aim;
To rid our proud nation of British domain

In life and in death ‘the Three Volunteers’ – Carty, Crowley and Loughran – remain a source of inspiration for people all over Ireland and the cause for which they died is only the stronger thanks to their tremendous personal sacrifice. Bearing in mind that sacrifice it is incumbent on us all to recommit to the struggle, to that same fight for the Irish republic for which they selflessly laid down their lives. The road ahead may be long and arduous but the legacy of these courageous young men will always be with us to light and show the way. And so we go forward with dignity and with great hope that one day their ambitions will be fully realised; we commit once more to the struggle for a full British withdrawal and the restitution of a sovereign 32-county Irish republic. Their fight is our fight and that fight is not yet over.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Anthony, I wrote that piece as the inaugural feature for our magazine column 'Son Saoirse na hEireann' and took great pride in doing so. I first heard of Paddy Carty, Sean Loughran and Dermot Crowley when I was a child knocking about in primary school. Paddy trained the Volunteers in Omagh at the beginning of the armed struggle and is held in the highest regard by local republicans - as of course are his comrades Sean and Dermot. I also recall singing a song to their memory at a night in Derrytresk and Sean Loughran's brother Gerry approached me afterwards explaining who he was and how he was touched by my rendition, he's long-since passed away himself. His own son Sean would have came up and helped us in elections back in the late 90s and I canvassed many a door with him and a nephew of Fergal O'Hanlon, the times that were in it eh! When it came to who the article would be about it was always going to be the Three Volunteers, probably sounds stupid but they hold a special place in my heart. When I put it through the Carty's to make sure they were happy with it they were delighted and that really meant a lot. Hope you enjoyed it anyway and thanks once again for carrying it