Interviewed on 9 June 2021
Joe Sullivan is a native of Longford who joined An Garda Síochána in March 1967. He retired as a Superintendent. Joe spent many years working in the Cavan and Monaghan area and was there in Killeshandra in May 1974 when when he heard in the distance the Loyalist bombs being detonated in nearby Monaghan Town, killing several people. In this audio, Joe recalls the moment the bomb exploded and described the aftermath.
JOHN O’BRIEN: I think, Joe, we’re just going to go along now to where you were indeed on that day, 17th May 1974, and I think you were down in Killeshandra on enquiries with another colleague at that stage?
JOE SULLIVAN: Yeah, Detective Garda John McCaughey and I were in Killeshandra. About 6:30 in the evening I think, in or around or maybe Between half six and seven o’clock in the evening we were in Killeshandra standing outside the Garda station in Killeshandra, speaking with the local sergeant, Sergeant Peter Maguire. I can’t remember what about, but it was obviously to do with some Garda enquiry anyway. Peter was standing at the wall and we were standing on the street side of the wall, and the next thing I heard, it was quarter to seven, I hear bomb explosions. Peter Maguire goes into the station to find out where it was, because he thought it was in the North, but he came back out and told us the bomb was, that a bomb had gone off in Monaghan Town … We decided we were going to go back to Monaghan … We went back to Monaghan Town. And when we got back to Monaghan Town we went into Church Square. There’s the Church Square junction with the North Road just outside of a pub, a pub which is known as Greacen’s Pub.
MR. O’BRIEN: What was the scene like there, Joe, when you got there?
MR. SULLIVAN: Absolute devastation, unbelievable devastation. The first thing I noticed was there was a wee cafe, just behind the monument on the North Road side the cafe, straight across from the pub, just the width of the street across from the pub, and it was absolutely demolished, it was gone. There was nothing only bits of timber, bits of timber like Like a box of matches scattered over a big area, you know … Well, I’ll just finish describing the scene. I did see, it was a sump. A sump was all that was left … A sump. Well, it subsequently transpired that it was a Hillman Minx that was stolen in Portadown. I don’t know when it was stolen but anyway. But all I can recall seeing was the actual, the actual sump of the car. That’s all that was intact. There was nothing only rubbish strewn all over the place. The whole front of the pub was damaged. It wasn’t blown in, but what I do recall is that the upper part of it, the upstairs of it, the windows were all blew out of it … And I think there was some structural damage on the top of it, on the upper part of the pub. Naturally enough, crowds of people had gathered round, rubbernecks, is that what they call them? They had all gathered round. The bodies were all removed now by the time we got back.