"I needed to go........" Omagh by leics
Omagh Travel Guide: 13 reviews and 33 photos
........to Omagh for two reasons.
Firstly, and most importantly, to pay my respects to those who died in the appalling Omagh bombing of 1998. A 500lb car bomb planted by the 'Real IRA' (RIRA) killed 29 people, including children and a pregnant woman, and injured more than 200. A bomb for which the warning given was so vague......and, basically, wrong.......that the police moved people towards where the carbomb was rather than away from danger. It was the worst atrocity of a time packed full of horror and an act condemned by both sides.
There's a memorial park now, set slightly outside the centre. A peaceful pool of water-lilies is surrounded by 31 small mirrors set on poles, each representing a victim (one of the dead was pregnant with twins). Here is a description of the memorial and its symbolism:
Desmond Fitzgerald Landscape Architects and artist Sean Hillen, were appointed through an open competition to design a memorial garden to commemorate the victims of the Omagh Bombing. The competition brief called for a design that would link two locations - the bomb site and a memorial garden some 200 metres away.
The approach to the memorial garden is to create a “Garden of Light” gently glittering and sparking as it collects, reflects and distributes the sunlight. The garden consists of lines of small mirrors arrayed around a reflecting pool, backed up by a grassy bank planted with silver birches and wildflowers.
A mirror in the memorial garden tracks the sun, pouring constant beams of sunlight onto 31 small mirrors one for each of those killed by the bomb. The small mirrors are arranged to carry the light to a heart-shaped sculpture located at the site of the explosion, a place which is almost constantly in the shade. The heart shaped sculpture will be of cut-glass crystal and will give the illusion of floating inside a pillar of glass. The heart will sparkle and glitter with the light.
The garden also takes its cue from the concept of “REFLECTION”; to be a meditative space. A space not fenced off from the street but retaining a strong sense of quiet enclosure, achieved in part by a change in level. The design language of the garden resonates with the austerity of Great War memorials.
The garden is paved in light granite flag stones. The palette of planting is restrained - silver birch (a pioneer species in disturbed land) and grassy banks which will include swathes of bluebells in spring and poppies in summer. Despite requiring changes in level the garden is universally accessible. The granite flags at stepped areas are designed to double as casual seating.
Open paved spaces around the pool and at the southern end of the site allow people to gather for ceremonies and commemoration. The layout of the garden space is governed by the need for a clear light path to the memorial. Thus any tree planting can only be located to the north and east of the site. This in turn ensures that the sun will penetrate the park when it is most appreciated - from late morning through to the evening.
I was not the only person paying my respects when I visited.
Secondly, more simply and pragmatically, because Omagh made a good base for my explorations around Lower Lough Erne, with its prehistoric sites.
It's only a little town, Omagh. Like many others in the UK it has many out-of-town shopping developments, and that can leach business away from the traditional heart...but in Omagh's case this does not seem to have happened. Its main street retains its independent shops as well as major UK chains, and when I visited (more than once, because I ate there in the evenings) there were always plenty of people around.
There is not a great deal to explore, in truth, although wandering this tidy town is pleasant enough and its people are exceptionally friendly. The courthouse (supposedly the target of the bomb, and yet the car was parked right in the heart of the town) and the nearby churches are good, solid buildings of their type.
The nearby Ulster American Folk Park is fascinating, with its original and replica buildings from both Ireland and the USA....well worth visiting.
- Pros:Pleasant small town
- Cons:A sad recent history.
- In a nutshell:Small town set in lovely countryside
I'd not intended to visit this place, thinking it might be over-touristy. But I did go in the end, and it wasn't... more travel advice
An 'American' themed bar/pub, with nice wooden furniture and friendly staff. Almost empty when I ate there early on a... more travel advice
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