Mortar attack on Enniskillen barracks

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Enniskillen Mortar Attack
Part of the Troubles
Mortar attack on Enniskillen barracks is located in Northern Ireland
Mortar attack on Enniskillen barracks
LocationEnniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Coordinates54°20′39″N 7°38′3″W / 54.34417°N 7.63417°W / 54.34417; -7.63417Coordinates: 54°20′39″N 7°38′3″W / 54.34417°N 7.63417°W / 54.34417; -7.63417
Date4 September 1985
07:50 am (GMT)
Attack type
Lob bomb, Mortar attack
PerpetratorProvisional IRA Fermanagh Brigade

On 4 September 1985, the Provisional IRA fired mortar bombs at a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) base and training centre in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh. Nobody was killed, but 30 people were injured in the attack and the base, which was mainly used to train new recruits, was very badly damaged.[1] The IRA hoped to repeat the success they had earlier in the year when Newry RUC station was attacked with mortars and nine RUC officers were killed and almost 40 injured.[2] It was one of numerous IRA mortar attacks on British Army and RUC bases around this time period.


Volunteers from the IRA's south Fermanagh brigade hijacked a lorry and fitted it with a baseplate and improvised mortar tubes. They parked the lorry on waste ground outside a pub about 300 yards away from the RUC base.

At around 07:50am, the IRA unit launched the mortars at the base, three of the mortars hit the main building in the base badly damaging the building, and one hit a car park right beside the building, where the recruits usually sleep, causing damage to a watch tower beside it. Luckily for the recruits the IRA's intelligence was faulty; they believed the recruits would be sleeping at the time of the attack but were instead having breakfast in a different part of the base. Some of the mortars went off target – one of them hit a garage injuring a number of people and wrecking a number of cars. In total, 30 people were injured, 20 of them from the RUC and 10 were civilians and all taken to hospital. Most of the injuries were not serious but one civilian and training cadet had to stay over night in hospital as they had more serious injuries.[3]

Séamus McElwaine was the Officer commanding of the South Fermanagh Brigade at the time and it's likely his unit was involved in the attack as he was very active around the Fermanagh and County Monaghan border area at this time.[4]


A RUC spokesman said "It is absolutely incredible that no one was seriously hurt or killed." and that "They had a lucky escape." There was 150 people in the base at the time of the attack.[5]

The IRA kept on targeting RUC and British Army bases. In December, the IRA's East Tyrone Brigade took over the Ballygawley RUC base and destroyed it with a 200lb bomb and shot dead two RUC men in the process. They also mortared two other RUC stations in December at Castlederg and Carrickmore.[6][7]

News footage aftermath[edit]

  • "IRA Fermanagh Brigade mortar attack on Enniskillen RUC Barracks - 4 September 1985 - YouTube". Retrieved 31 January 2019.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1985". Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  2. ^ "CAIN: Chronology of the Conflict 1985". Retrieved 2019-02-23.
  3. ^ Bishop, Patrick; Mallie, Eamonn (1987). The Provisional IRA. Corgi Books. pp. 420–421. ISBN 0-552-13337-X.
  4. ^ The Provisional IRA. Corgi Books. 1987. p. 419. ISBN 0-552-13337-X.
  5. ^ "IRA MORTAR BOMBS HIT POLICE TRAINING CENTER - Chicago Tribune". Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  6. ^ Mark Urban - Big Boys Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle against the IRA p.221,222
  7. ^ "Mortar attack on police station". UPI. Retrieved 2019-02-23.

Further reading[edit]

  • Moloney, Ed: A secret history of the IRA. Penguin Books (2002).
  • Urban, Mark: Big Boys’ Rules: The SAS and the Secret Struggle Against the IRA. Faber and Faber (1992).