Service planned to mark 30th anniversary of Air India bombing

Poet Renée Sarojini Saklikar who lost relatives in Cork disaster will attend event

A leading Canadian poet who lost her aunt and uncle in the Air India bombing will gather with other victims' relatives in West Cork next week for the 30th anniversary of the bombing.

Renée Sarojini Saklikar was 23 years old when her aunt and uncle were among the 329 people murdered when a bomb exploded on Air India Flight 182 on June 23rd, 1985.

The flight was en route from Toronto to London when the bomb planted by Sikh militants exploded some 100 miles off the West Cork coast killing everyone on board.

The tragedy is remembered with a memorial at Ahakista on the Sheep's Head Peninsula in West Cork – one of the nearest land points to where the bombing took place.


Now Ms Saklikar will join other Air India families and local Cork families, officials, and schoolchildren to attend the 30th anniversary memorial service at Ahakista next Tuesday.

Collection of poems

On the eve of the memorial service, Ms Saklikar will read from her collection of poems about the tragedy at the recently opened West Cork Arts Centre in Uillinn, Skibbereen.

And she will also give a short talk entitled History, Grief, Remembrance, on the interconnections between the people of Cork and Canada in the aftermath of the bombing.

“My family will never forget the compassionate care given to us by the people of Cork, in the days just after the bombing,” said Ms Saklikar.

"People like the search and recovery crews as well as nurses and doctors and many local people, reached out with kindness and incredible support and continue to do so till [sic] this day."

Ms Saklikar visited the memorial at Ahakista last year and revealed how meeting with locals helped her appreciate how the tragedy is perceived in Ireland.

“It was very moving to situate the Air India incident within the context of the greater Irish narrative as well as to hear from folks with connections to the bombing and its recovery operation in Cork.”


Ms Saklikar's poetry about the Air India bombing will be adapted for music and voice later this year in an Irish-Canadian production supported by Culture Ireland.

Ms Saklikar, who won the 2014 Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry, will see her poems set to music by Irish composer Jürgen Simpson in a project directed by Tom Creed.

Of the 329 passengers and crew who perished, some 82 were children under the age of 13 while 280 of the dead were Canadians, 27 were British citizens and 22 were Indians.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times