Tommy Gallagher was born in Ballyshannon Co. Donegal in 1942, and the Gallagher family began farming in Keenaghan in 1945. Tommy qualified as a teacher in 1965. He was introduced to political life by Tom Daly, brother of Bishop Edward Daly, and was involved in setting up the SDLP in Co. Fermanagh. In 1973, he entered public life and in 1991 was elected Councillor for Fermanagh. In 1996 he was elected to the Northern Ireland Forum, and to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 1998, as representative for Fermanagh South Tyrone, a position he held until 2011. Tommy recalls his involvement in the early talks leading to the Good Friday Agreement, and explains that he was always a firm supporter of John Hume and Seamus Mallon. He describes the violence which came to his door in the 1970s, when a timed device which had been placed in a culvert exploded 40 yards from his family home, causing injury to the driver of an army vehicle and damaging the Gallagher home extensively. Luckily, his two children, who had just moments earlier been playing in the front garden, escaped injury, as did his brother Raymond. He details some of the acts of violence and terrorism in Belleek and the traumatic effect on the local population. He concludes by giving his views on the legacy of the years of the Troubles and discusses losing his seat to Sinn Fein in 2011.
In Part 11 of this recording, Tommy Gallagher recalls his playing career with the GAA, and he articulates his disapproval of the use of the local GAA grounds for commemorations by Sinn Féin. He also discusses his involvement in the removal in 2007 of a monument erected by the IRA five years previously in memory of three IRA members who had been shot during the Troubles. The monument was situated just twelve feet from where William Hassard and Fred Love had been shot by the IRA in August 1988. He also recalls the Protestant families who had to leave the Garrison area due to intimidation in the early 1970s. The shooting by the IRA of part time UDR member Johnny Fletcher in March 1972 is also recalled.
This collection, carried out by Irish Life and Lore on behalf of Cavan County Library Service, is funded by the EU Special EU Programmes Body Peace IV fund under the objective to build positive relations with people from different backgrounds and communities to support peace and reconciliation.
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