The Troubles in Strabane

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The Troubles in Strabane recounts incidents during the Troubles in Strabane, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.

In addition to the incidents listed below, Strabane was affected by countless relatively low- and mid-level episodes between 1970 and the late 1990s. These incidents included: gun battles, car bombings, incendiary devices exploding in commercial premises, sustained rioting, hoax bomb alerts and pipe bomb attacks.

Particularly in the early to mid-1970s, such incidents occurred on a daily basis and mostly in the Ballycolman and Head Of The Town areas. Strabane was a stronghold of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and, to a lesser extent, the Irish National Liberation Army.

Strabane was the most bombed town in Europe between World War II and the Yugoslav Civil War.

Post-Good Friday Agreement (1998), the town has witnessed sporadic dissident republican activity in the form of gun attacks, pipe bomb attacks, punishment shootings, hoax bomb alerts and very occasional rioting.

The most notable incidents which occurred in Strabane during the Troubles include:


  • 12-13 August - Riots break out in Strabane, RUC Station attacked and damage widespread around town centre.


  • 9 August - Widespread rioting, burnings and hijackings throughout the town continue for days as Internment without trial introduced in Northern Ireland, British Troops respond with CS Gas and Rubber Bullets fired.
  • 9 August - Winston Donnell (22), UDR soldier, from Hillhead, Urney, near Strabane shot dead by the Irish Republican Army (IRA), while part of a patrol carrying out a vehicle checkpoint near Clady outside Strabane.
  • 18 August 1971 - Eamon McDevitt (28), Catholic civilian, a deaf mute, shot during street disturbances by the British Army, Fountain Street. He came from St. Marys Drive, Strabane. This incident was one of a number to feature in a European Court of Human Rights inter-state case.
  • 18 September 1971 - Roy Leslie (20) from Moy, County Tyrone, an RUC officer shot and killed by the IRA while on patrol at midday in Abercorn Square, Strabane. A second RUC officer was also seriously injured in the attack.
  • 10 December 1971 - Kenneth Smyth (28), Sergeant in the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), killed by Irish Republican Army (IRA) while off duty. Shot while travelling to work in car, at Lisdoo, Clady, near Strabane.
  • 10 December 1971 - Daniel McCormick (29), ex-Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), Killed by Irish Republican Army (IRA) while off duty. Shot while travelling to work in car, at Lisdoo, Clady, near Strabane.


  • 16 July 1972 - Tobias Molloy (18), Fianna Éireann member from Fountain terrace, Strabane shot dead by a rubber bullet fired by British soldier at the Camels Hump border checkpoint.
  • 19 July - Alan Jack (5 months old baby) from Ballymagorry, County Tyrone outside Strabane, killed by an IRA bomb in Abercorn Square, the youngest person to die in the troubles.
  • 3 August 1972 - William Clark (34) from Laurencekirk, Kincardineshire in Scotland, British Army bomb disposal expert killed trying to defuse an IRA bomb discovered, by the side of Urney road.
  • 27 December 1972 - Eugene Devlin (22), Irish Republican Army member shot during attack on British Army patrol, in a field near Drumrallagh Estate, Strabane.

1972 was the year in which most deaths (479) attributed to the Troubles occurred.


  • 1 February 1973 - William Boardley, British Army soldier shot dead by an Irish Republican Army sniper while on roadblock duty at Meetinghouse Street, Strabane.
  • 17 March 1973 Linsey Mooney (19), UDA/UFF from Lincoln Court, Waterside, Derry, killed in a premature explosion in the vehicle IED he was driving at Cloughfin, County Donegal just over the Border from Clady near Strabane
  • 21 June 1973 - David Smith (31), British Army from Cardiff, dog handler killed in an Irish Republican Army booby trap explosion while searching derlict houses in the Ballycolman Estate, Strabane.
  • 15 December 1973 - Jim McGinn (20) Irish Republican Army member from Delaney Crescent, Strabane, killed in premature explosion of his own IED on the Southern side of the border at Clady bridge on the outskirts of Strabane.


  • 24 January 1974 Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale hijacked a helicopter in County Donegal and used it to drop bombs in milk churns on Strabane RUC station, the bombs failed to detonate.[1][2]
  • 22 June 1974 - Hugh Devine (33), civilian killed by British Army foot patrol in Olympic Drive, Ballycolman, Strabane. The following day the soldier involved in the shooting, Ian Thain (19), was charged with murder, the first time a British soldier was charged with murder during the conflict, the charge was later reduced to manslaughter and the soldier was acquitted.
  • 20 July 1974 Daniel Harkin (47), Catholic civilian found dead in the garden of his home at Meenashesk Place, Strabane, County Tyrone after being dragged from his bed by two masked men, the inquest it was said that he could have died either from a fall or from receiving a heavy blow to the head, but there was no conclusive he was beaten, (reasons unknown). Both the OIRA and PIRA denied responsibility for the attack.
  • 15 November 1974 - Anthony Simmons (19) from Whitfield, Manchester, British soldier shot and killed by IRA sniper in Townsend Street area of Strabane while on foot patrol.


  • Strabane British Legion Hall bombed by Willie Gallagher. The subject of a BBC programme, "The Legion Hall Bombing (Play for Today)", Gallagher was later tried through the Diplock Court system.[1]


  • 13 April 1980 - Mary Doherty (53), Catholic civilian killed by British Army while travelling in car towards British Army border Camels Hump checkpoint. A 21 year old member of the Argyll and Sunderland Highlanders was charged for unlawful killing, twelve months later he was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to twelve months in a young offenders centre, suspended for two years.
  • 27 December 1980 - Joan Pollock, Protestant civilian was killed. She died three weeks after being shot in her home during a PIRA sniper attack on a Royal Ulster Constabulary(RUC) mobile patrol, at St. Colmans Drive in the Ballycolman area.


  • 7 May 1981, Serious disturbances in the Head of the Town and Ballycolman areas following the funeral of IRA Hunger striker Bobby Sands, Local youths clash with British Army and RUC riot squads.
  • 31 July 1981 - Thomas Harpur, civilian (ex-Royal Ulster Constabuary) killed by the Irish Republican Army, the INLA initially claimed responsibility, but it was later revealed that the IRA was responsible. He was killed while visiting friend's home, Ballycolman estate Strabane.
  • 19 November 1981 - John McKeegan (49), off-duty member of Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), shot dead by the Irish Republican Army while delivering wood in Olympic Drive, Ballycolman.


  • 12 May 1982 - Thomas Cunningham, ex-UDR soldier, shot dead in Fountain Park, Strabane by the Irish Republican Army.
  • 15 June 1982 - Hugh Cummings, off-duty UDR soldier shot in Lower Main Street, Strabane by the Irish Republican Army.


  • 23 August 1983 - Ronald Finlay, off duty UDR soldier shot dead in Beechmount avenue Strabane by the Irish Republican Army.
  • 4 November 1983 - Jacks Bar Patrick Street destroyed in an INLA bomb attack meant for security personnel who frequented the premises.17 year old barman seriously injured in attack.


David Devine died 23 February 1985
Michael Devine died 23 February 1985
Charles Breslin died 23 February 1985
  • 23 February 1985 - Michael Devine (22), David Devine (17) and Charles Breslin (20), all Catholic members of the Irish Republican Army, were shot dead by British Army members (Special Air Service), while returning arms to a dump, in a field, off Plumbridge Road, Strabane. Their families believed these shootings were part of a wider British government "shoot-to-kill" policy, where Irish republican paramilitaries were summarily executed without any attempt at arrest. Damages were awarded to the families by the Ministry of Defence on 7 May 2002, as part of a Belfast High Court settlement.
  • 22 August 1985 - Daniel Mallon (65), Catholic civilian shot dead by the Irish Republican Army in the Railway Bar, apparently in mistaken identity for a local contractor who was carrying out work for the security forces in the area.
  • 7 October 1985 - Damien McCrory (20), Catholic civilian shot dead by Irish Republican Army, by the side of road, Drumrallagh, Strabane as an alleged informer.


  • 10 August 1988 - James McPhilemy (22) member of the Irish National Liberation Army from Melmount road, Strabane. Was shot during an attempted attack on a British Army post at Clady, near Strabane, he was taken to Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry but was announced dead on arrival.


  • 28 January 1989 - Stephen Montgomery (26) from Omagh, Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer killed in an Irish Republican Army grenade attack on his patrol vehicle in Sion Mills near Strabane.
  • 27 June 1989 David Black (34) Full-time member of RUC reserve killed by Irish Republican Army booby trap bomb planted under his car at his home on Ballyheather Road at 10.30pm.


  • 20 October 1990 David Pollock (30), Protestant ex-UDR man shot and killed in an IRA ambush on the Melmount Road.
  • 12 November 1990 Alexander Martin Patterson (31), Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) member from Church View, Strabane shot and killed by undercover members of the SAS, in the village of Victoria Bridge near Strabane, during an attack on the home of a member of the UDR.



  • 16 August 1993 Irish Republican Army bomb attack on town centre.


  • 10 February 1997 large Irish Republican Army bomb defused on town outskirts.


  • 29 October 2001 Charles Folliard (30), a former UDA paramilitary, was killed by dissident republicans in the Ballycolman estate, shot six times as he left his girlfriend's house.


  1. ^ Jeremy Page (30 April 2007). "Rebel bombers’ World Cup air raid". The Times. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ Jim Cusack (30 October 2005). "Herrema kidnapping threatened economy". Irish Independent. Retrieved 2007-11-06.