Family and friends remember killing of ‘quiet’ Pomeroy farmer

Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan
Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan

A special ceremony will be held in Pomeroy on Thurdsday August 7 to mark the 40th anniversary of the killing of Patrick McElhone.

The unarmed 22-year-old farmer was shot dead by British soldiers at his Limehill farm within earshot of his elderly parents in 1974.

Friends and family have organised the evening Mass at 8pm followed by a graveside oration with an accordion band playing tunes.

At the time, the shooting caused grave concern among church and political leaders.

According to local clergy, the deceased was a quiet 22-year-old whose only interest was playing an accordion in a local band.

Eyewitness reports described how soldiers questioned Patrick as he was cutting hay in a field.

Later that evening two soldiers took him from his home and lead him down the road and into a meadow.

One soldier went to close the gate, and while a dozen soldiers had Patrick Covered, a shot rang out which entered his chest and through his heart.

Officials from the Taoiseach’s office in Dublin travelled to Tyrone and investigated the shooting. They remarked that this unit had been very active in the Pomeroy area in the two weeks prior to the attack and that they had been acting very aggressively to the nationalist population.

In March 1975 a lance corporal from the Royal Regiment of Wales was charged with the murder but was found not guilty.

In a landmark judgement, the judge said he was satisfied that the soldier had acted reasonably.

The McElhone family received an ex-gratia payment of £3,000. Mr McElhone’s mother died a month after the money was paid and his father a short time afterwards.

Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said: “This was an appalling case of brutality and colonialism by the British that picked upon the weakest in society and to this day have offered no justice.

“The arrogance shown that a squaddie could travel 300 miles to Limehill and kill a 23 year old farmer and walk free is horrendous.

“Patrick McElhone’s main joys in life where the Pomeroy Accordion Band and his farm. This is represented in a wonderful remembrance quilt his sister Mary participated in during a relatives for Justice Project.

“Sinn Féin supports the McElhone family’s right to truth and Justice and will be raising this issue once again with the various authorities. This case must be reinvestigated so the remaining members of the McElhone family can find some comfort in the truth about Patrick’s murder.”