Remembering Bombay Street - 35 years on

Clonard Monastery was a sea of hope and emotion yesterday as hundreds of local people filled its aisles to commemorate the thirty-fifth anniversary of the burning of Bombay Street on August 15, 1969.

Father Gerry Reynolds, of Clonard Monastery, conducted the service, which saw hundreds of past and present residents of Bombay Street, and the surrounding Clonard streets, come together to remember the atrocity. They also, as Father Reynolds explained in his homily, sought the value of the lessons that can be learned for those in a similar situation today to that of the Bombay Street residents thirty-five years ago.

“Today the people of Clonard remember the burning of Bombay Street. That’s thirty-five-years-ago, over four generations ago,” said Father Reynolds; and then, as he posed a question to the congregation, asked, “And what’s the value in remembering that act of ethnic cleansing?

“Remembering the burning of Bombay Street will be worthwhile if it makes us more sensitive to the cruel wrong of making innocent people homeless. Home is a sacred place,” he continued, “and to drive people from their homes is a sacrilege.

“History notes that displacing people from their homes sets up the cycles of violence that can go on for years and years because the hurt is so deep,” explained the celebrant. He went on to explain how, in remembering the burning of Bombay Street “we should do all we can to right that wrong, wherever in the world it may happen.”

Speaking of tolerance and a progressive future, Father Reynolds emphasised the importance of reflecting on how ethnic violence has cost both sides to lose sight of their humanity and called on the people of Clonard to have compassion for the plight of asylum seekers who suffer the same hardships now as they did many years ago.

Coinciding with the feast of the Assumption, the Bombay Street Mass began with readings from the Clonard Monastery Chronicles which gave an eye-witness account of the events of that day.

After the service, Rita McAuley, sister of 15-year-old Fian Gerard McAuley who was shot dead protecting Bombay Street, spoke emotionally about the commemoration Mass.

“The Mass was absolutely beautiful, it really was, lovely. We were told that there was going to be a Mass, but we didn’t expect this. There are people and faces here that we haven’t seen for years. People who for different reasons have moved out of the area but they’ve all made a very special effort to come here today.

“I was seventeen when it happened and I remember it all vividly. I remember making my way up from work that day and finding my aunt calling to me: ‘Gerard’s been shot, Gerard’s been shot!’ and finding my mum outside the Royal Hospital. And for the community to have put this together for us to remember today is just lovely.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?