Declan Arthurs (Irish republican)

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Declan Arthurs
BornOctober, 1965
Died8 May 1987 (aged 21)
OccupationProvisional Irish Republican Army Volunteer
Known forLoughgall Ambush digger driver
Military career
Allegiance Irish Republic
borders Provisional IRA
Service/branchMilitary wing
Years of service1982–1987
UnitProvisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade
ConflictsThe Troubles, Attack on Ballygawley barracks, Attack on RUC Birches barracks, Loughgall Ambush

Declan Arthurs was a Volunteer in the Provisional IRA's (IRA), East Tyrone Brigade in the mid-1980s.

Early life[edit]

Declan Arthurs was born in Galbally, County Tyrone on 28 October 1965. He was one of six children, and the fourth of Paddy and Amelia Arthurs. Declan worked on the family farm learning how to drive diggers. He worked as an agricultural contractor for the farm. He had one young daughter.[1]

IRA Volunteer[edit]

Declan Arthurs joined the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA in 1982 in the wake of Martin Hurson's death on the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike. Hurson was also from Galbally like Arthurs, and Arthurs and his friends looked up to Hurson. At the time he joined so did other young men from the same area, like Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Seamus Donnelly and Martin McCaughey.

Over a year and a half year period in the mid-1980s the East Tyrone Brigade attacked and bombed RUC barracks and stations in Ballygawley, Tynan, The Birches, Coalisland, Dungannon, Carrickmore and Castlederg.[2] They bombed hotels and other businesses in Kildress, Ballyronan, Dungannon and Cookstown[3][4][5][6]

Arthurs took part in two of the IRA's biggest attacks of the 1980s. At the Attack on Ballygawley barracks in December 1985 and then the Attack on RUC Birches barracks in August 1986, Arthurs was a key member of the team who drove a digger past a security fence, stopped it outside the barracks, lit a fuse, ran to safety and wrecked the barracks with a 200lb bomb in the JCB Digger.


Arthurs was killed along with seven other IRA Volunteers who were ambushed by the SAS during the Loughgall Ambush.[7] Before the SAS fired he lit the 40 second fuse on the bomb and it destroyed most of the station, injuring a number of British decoys inside. The Loughgal ambush was supposed to be a carbon copy attack of the bombing of The Birches barracks, with the IRA expecting very little resistance. One of the photos of the aftermath of the ambush shows that Arthurs died with the Zippo lighter he used to light the fuse still in his hand.[8]

Amelia Arthurs, Declan's mother, said of the ambush in an interview to journalist Peter Taylor, "He was mowed down. He could have been taken prisoner. They knew that the "boys" were coming and they lay in wait. The SAS never gave them a chance. Declan died for his country and I'm very proud of him. He was caught up in a war and he died."[9]

Declan Arthurs is buried in St. John's Cemetery, Galbally beside IRA Volunteer Seamus Donnelly who also died in the Loughgall ambush.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tirghra I nDil Chuimhne - Ireland's Patriot Dead pp.286
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Robert W White - Out Of The Ashes: An Oral History of the Irish Republican Movement pp243
  6. ^ Mark Urban - BIG BOYS' RULES: The SAS and the Secret Struggle against the IRA pp.221 - 224
  7. ^
  8. ^ Peter Taylor - Behind The Mask: The IRA and Sinn fein pp.314 - 319
  9. ^ Peter Taylor - Behind The Mask: The IRA and Sinn fein pp.320, 321
  10. ^ Tirghra I nDil Chuimhne - Ireland's Patriot Dead pp.286