Top of the Hill bar shooting

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Top of the Hill bar shooting
Part of The Troubles
Top of the Hill bar shooting is located in Northern Ireland
Top of the Hill bar shooting
Location of the shooting
LocationStrabane Old Road, Waterside, Derry, Northern Ireland
Date20 December 1972
10:30 PM
TargetIrish Catholics, Irish Nationalists
Attack type
Mass shooting, massacre
WeaponsSterling submachine gun
PerpetratorUlster Freedom Fighters
Ulster Defence Association North Antrim & Londonderry Brigade

The Top of the Hill bar shooting was a mass shooting incident that took place during the height of the Northern Ireland Troubles that occurred on 20 December 1972 at the Top of the Hill bar in a small Catholic enclave of the majority Protestant Waterside area of Derry, in which five civilians were shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries from a unit of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) which is a part of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA).[1] The shooting is also known locally as "Annie's Bar massacre".[2]


The UDA was formed in September 1971 during one of the most violent phases of The Troubles right after internment without trial was introduced when a number of Loyalist Defense groups combined together. They formed a paramilitary wing, the UFF, in 1972 so the organisation could use the UFF name to carry out violent acts and kill people and keep the UDA name legal by not involving the UDA name with attacks. The UDA/UFF claimed to be combating the Provisional IRA but the majority of its victims (85%) were innocent Catholic civilians.[3][4] The UDA carried out its first killing on 20 April 1972 when they shot dead taxi driver Gerard Donnelly (22) in Ardoyne, Belfast.[5][6] In October, the group was responsible for the deaths of two small girls when they detonated a car bomb outside an Irish nationalist pub in Sailortown, Belfast, the girls killed were Clare Hughes (4) and Paula Strong (6).[7]

The shooting[edit]

On 20 December 1972 along the Strabane Old Road, the Top of the Hill bar was packed with customers watching a football match. At about 10:30 pm two men from the UDA burst into the bar, one of them was carrying a Sterling submachine gun and the other was holding a pistol, they were both wearing hoods to disguise their identities.[8] The men instantly and indiscriminately sprayed the main room in the bar with bullets. The attack was reported to have lasted less than a minute but it still managed to leave five people dead and four others wounded. Those killed in the attack were all males and included, Charlie McCafferty (31), Frank McCarron (58), Charles Moore (31), Barney Kelly (26) and Michael McGinley (37).[9] At the time this was the largest and most deadly attack carried out by the UDA, they would not carry out another attack of this size until February 1992, when they shot dead five civilians and injured nine in the Sean Graham bookmakers' shooting on the Ormeau Road in Belfast.[10][11]

1972 in Derry began with the Bloody Sunday shooting which happened in the Bogside area and ended with the Top of the Hill shooting. Nobody was ever charged in connection to the Top of the Hill bar murders, although in recent years relatives of those murdered have been calling for a fresh investigation to take place.[12]

The attack was carried out by members from the UDA's "North Antrim & Londonderry Brigade". [13]Although this was one of the UDA's smaller brigades it would also carry out the October 1993 Greysteel massacre which was the UDA's worst ever attack, in which eight people were shot & killed and 19 others were injured. The Greysteel shooting happened about 9-10 miles away from Annie's Bar Massacre 21 years earlier. [14] [15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  2. ^ "Remembering the Annie's Bar Massacre - The Pat Finucane Centre".
  3. ^ Brown, Derek (20 June 2000). "Ulster Freedom Fighters - the thugs in hoods" – via
  4. ^ Brown, Derek (10 July 2001). "Who are the Ulster Freedom Fighters?" – via
  5. ^ "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths".
  6. ^ "The Troubles 12". Issuu.
  7. ^ Newspapers (Firm), Independent (3 November 1972). "Funeral of children killed in Benny's Bar Explosion".
  8. ^ "The Troubles 18". Issuu.
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Bookmakers killings remembered 25 years on". ITV News.
  11. ^ "Major deaths in, or associated with, the Troubles Northern Ireland 1969-1998".
  12. ^ "Annie's Bar - 40 years on".
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^