Mick Grimes: Dignified in face of catastrophic loss in Omagh bombing

Born: April 14th, 1927. Died: October 19th, 2017

Mick Grimes: rejected bitterness following the Omagh bombing in 1998.

Mick Grimes: rejected bitterness following the Omagh bombing in 1998.

 

Mick Grimes from Beragh, Co Tyrone, who has died at the age of 90, lost three generations of his family in the Omagh bombing of August 15th, 1998; his wife, his daughter, his grand-daughter and his daughter’s unborn twins. In his suffering he showed great strength of character. Despite such terrible loss, he rejected bitterness. “I can’t carry hatred for anyone,” he said. “It would hurt yourself.”

His qualities came to national attention when he appeared on the Late Late Show after the bombing. Bob Geldof ranted against the bombers and said: “May they rot in hell.” Grimes rebuked him, saying such talk had brought us to where we were. Because of his calmness and authority nobody challenged him. In the difficult time after the bombing he was a calming influence among the victims and wider community. His stance meant he refused to take part in the civil action taken by some families against the alleged bombers.

Unfortunately, only tragedy brought his qualities to wider attention. In his home area he was a bridge-builder, involved in cross-community work for many years. He established the youth club in Beragh and he was a local historian.

Grimes had a notable command of English, despite leaving school at 14 to work on the family farm. His memoir Till We Meet Again records life in Beragh from the late 19th century.

He always helped others. When he won a weekend for two in a Dublin hotel, he couldn’t face going without his late wife. Thus he raffled the break, raising £5,000 for refugees in Kosovo.

Michael Grimes was born in 1927, one of 11 children to Patrick Grimes, a farmer, and his wife Margaret (née Hepburn). He was educated at Beragh national school, then spent his working life on the family farm.

He was a man of deep Christian faith, expressed in a poem he wrote after his wife’s death:

“Yet we must tread the path we were allotted

accepting both the good times and the pain

and if we bear the cross we are asked to carry

in God’s good time I know we’ll meet again.”

He is survived by his daughter Mary (Brogan): sons Patrick, Timothy, Finbarr, Martin, Fearghal, Declan, Niall, Damian and Aodhán: sister Rita (McGuire): and brothers Brian and John. He was predeceased by his wife, Mary; daughter, Avril (Monaghan); and grand-daughter Maura (Monaghan).