A Moy mother-of-six, who endured the violent loss of three sons, is being remembered as a ‘brave and courageous’ woman dedicated to her family.
The Moy community and Republican circles are in mourning following the death of Maura McKearney on Thursday.
Her death came just two days after the 25th anniversary of her son Kevin’s murder. He was shot at their family butchers shop in Moy in 1992 by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). His elderly uncle Jack McKearney, Mrs McKearney’s brother-in-law, also died in the attack.
Days before the murders, Maura had received a telephone call threatening that three men “in white coats” would be killed in Moy Square. An Historical Enquiries Team report later concluded that neither of the men belonged to a paramilitary organisation.
Hundreds of condolences have flooded in through social media, describing Mrs Kearney, who was originally from Roscommon, as ‘a great woman’ and praising her bravery and strength in dealing ‘with sorrows that most mothers will never face’.
Independent Republican Councillor Barry Monteith also paid tribute to her.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mrs Kearney”, he said. “ I had the honour and privilege of meeting her, and was always struck by the dignity and bravery with which she met all the challenges and tragedies in her life. She will be greatly missed by the family circle and wider community.”
Kevin’s murder was not the first time the Troubles affected the McKearney family. In May 1974, Maura’s older son Sean, a member of the IRA, died when a bomb he was planting at a petrol station outside Dungannon exploded prematurely.
In May 1987, another son, Patrick, was one of eight IRA men killed by the SAS when they tried to attack Loughall police station in County Armagh.
A third son, Tommy McKearney, was jailed for his involvement in the killing of a part-time UDR soldier in 1976.
Tommy McKearney spent 53 days on hunger strike in the Maze Prison, and now works as an author and freelance journalist.
As well as Tommy, Mrs McKearney is survived by her daughters Margaret and Angela.
Funeral arrangements have yet to be made.