Families Murdered in Northern Ireland Troubles


Ongoing Violence Expands

The 1970’s was a turbulent time in Northern Ireland.  The “Troubles” were out of control and the tit-for-tat between Protestants and Catholics was escalating with every act of violence.  One of the most horrific acts of this sectarian violence came on January 4, 1976.

On that date, members of the Glenanne Gang, a subsect of the Ulster Volunteer Force, a loyalist paramilitary organization, conducted two home invasions in County Armagh.  The Glenanne Gang was made up of soldiers and police officers from the British Army and Royal Ulster Constabulary, groups allegedly there to keep the peace.

The home invasions occurred simultaneously at the homes of the Reavey and O’Dowd families, two prominent Catholic clans.  Gunman broke into the houses and immediately started shooting.  Three young men people were killed in each home.  The gunmen fled, taking nothing and clearly sending a message to Catholics involved in nationalist politics. 

The Glenanne Gang was implicated in the murders.  The gang was implicated in approximately 130 murders during their reign of terror in Northern Ireland, but never faced justice. The police who responded were not particularly helpful, after all some of the gang were cops themselves.  No one was prosecuted for the murders, even though former Royal Ulster Constabulary member Billy McCaughey later admitted to being present at the Reavey home.

Outrage swept through the Armagh Catholic community as word of the massacre spread.  It would not take long for revenge to destroy more lives in the back-and-forth violence that destroyed so many lives.  

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