Ballyconnell was the home place of Barbara McCabe and her six siblings. Her father James worked in the Telephone Cables, as did his son John, prior to beginning work as a barman in McGrorys in Maguires Bridge, Co. Fermanagh. On 11 February 1986, John was serving two RUC officers in the bar, Derek Breen and Paddy Doherty. The latter had just stepped out when gunmen entered the bar and shot dead both John McCabe and Derek Breen. They then placed a bomb on the premises, but the two bodies had been removed before the device exploded. Barbara recalls that day vividly, explaining that she had travelled to Dublin to buy her wedding-dress, and on her return the awful news was broken to her. She says that her mother has never recovered from the tragedy, and although local knowledge points to the guilt of certain individuals, nobody was ever held accountable. Paddy Doherty, the second RUC officer in the bar that fateful day attended the wake undercover and would later come to visit John McCabe’s mother. Barbara recalls that shortly after her brother’s murder, the funeral of a member of the IRA took place in Co. Monaghan and the dead man was eulogised as a hero, while John McCabe, who had played football with Kildallan GAA and with the funeral attendees, never got any recognition. Barbara also recalls an earlier incident involving John and his fiancée, Linda Gilbride. They were sitting in his parked car when IRA man Dominic McGlinchey demanded possession of the vehicle and, putting John in the boot of his own car, drove away with Linda in John’s car which was found the following day with a handcuffed Linda unharmed inside.
Recordings available via Cavan Co. Library Service