Kathleen Irvine | In Memoriam
Kitty was born on the 27th January 1918. She was the fourth of eight children born to John and Brigid O' Halloran. She, her three sisters and four brothers were all born and reared in Hardinge Street, just off the New Lodge Road.
She started work in the mills in Belfast at the age of fourteen and continued to do so for nearly forty years until her murder. At this point she was a doffing mistress to a team of doffers - young girls who had the back-breaking work of removing full spools of thread from the spinning machines and replacing them with empty ones.
During the Second World War, her older brother, John, had been killed at Dunkirk. Her future husband, my daddy, a local lad from Carrick Hill, called John Irvine, served with the Royal Irish Fusiliers throughout the whole of the war, ending his service in 1947 Palestine.
She and Johnny had got married on the 12th July, so when we were young we were told that the Orange parades had come out to celebrate their anniversary. I was only a fourteen when she was killed.
I remember my mummy as being a strong, intelligent woman whose door was always open to anybody looking help. Her only vices were her cigarettes and bingo. She didn't drink but early on a Saturday night she and daddy would go to McGurk's Bar. She would have a pure orange whilst he would have a pint of Guinness. On their way home a couple of hours later she would buy a Flake each for Sam and me, the two youngest (she had three older children, John, Marie and Bríd).
The evening of the 4th December 1971 did not seem to be any different. They arrived at McGurk's and took up their usual snug in the small lounge to the side. They met their friends, Mr. and Mrs. Keenan who they met every week and they all had their usual drinks. But, this time, as she lifted her drink to her mouth, a bomb exploded.
Daddy was the only one to survive in the small lounge and every night thereafter when he closed his eyes, he was buried under the rubble once more - calling Kitty's name as he heard the cries of the dying all around him. He lived this each and every day for another twenty three years until he himself died on the 30th September 1994.
We now think of you both every day.
By Patricia Irvine, daughter of John and Kitty Irvine.
↓ From John
My wife and I were in our house in Distillery Street (the Lower Falls was five minutes drive away), on the 4th of December 1971, and, whilst she was making the dinner (she was just out of work), we heard a massive bang.
My wife said to me "That's a bomb. Somewhere else has been blown up". An hour or so later, the front door was rapped again and again. We thought it was a taxi that had come to the wrong house but, when I opened the door, I saw that it was my kid sister, Pat, and my aunt, Bridgit O'Halloran, standing there. Pat was shouting that our mum had been killed.
A man had brought both of them from the New Lodge in his car, so we all piled back into it - me, my wife, my sister and aunt - and got him to drive back over to the bomb site. On our way there, we got stopped at a British army check point and they would not allow us through, so my aunt Bridgit screamed from the car "This is my nephew, John. His mother was in that bar and she is dead". It was only then that we were allowed past.
After we saw what was left of the bar, we headed to mummy's house and waited.
In the end, I had to identify my mummy's body.
Now, I have my own memories of her.
One such memory: when my wife and I married on 11th March 1971, both our mothers, Kathleen Charlton and Kitty Irvine were there. Each time I lifted a bottle of stout, my ma would take it off me and say "both of yous are going on your honeymoon, so don't be drinking".
By John Branney, Kitty's eldest son, as told to his own son, Frank.