One of the darkest and longest days
Jennifer Magee was only 15 years old when the Enniskillen bomb exploded as she made her way from her home down the Forthill steps to watch the remembrance parade in 1987.
At the time she was recovering from surgery to correct a perforated eardrum. After being in the vicinity of the blast, it emerged that her recovery had not been as good as had been hoped.
In the intervening years she has lost a good percentage of hearing in her left ear and has been studying BSL level 1 sign language in South West College. This week, the mother of two who now lives in Florencecourt with her two sons, is waiting to be called for more surgery.
Recalling Sunday, November 8, she said: "It was one of the longest and darkest days of my life".
Living on Forthill Road, she was going down in the direction of the Cenotaph to stand to watch the Remembrance event at the bottom of the Forthill steps.
"There are three tiers of steps and I was on the second tier and going down to the third one when I just saw the roof of the building going forward," she recalled.
"I heard a loud bang and glass breaking and piercing screams. I fell on the steps and lost my shoe, A soldier came and picked me up and brought me up home. I realised my father [Jimmy Magee] wasn't there. I went back down to Belmore Street and that is when I saw all the carnage, heard the screaming and the people running with blankets and bodies everywhere. I saw the nuns coming down from the Convent, also neighbours all coming with blankets. It was all go. It was horrible. When I got back home, Dad was there," she said.
"It was a very dark day," she said.
"I had only had ear surgery approximately six weeks before. It was for a perforated ear drum. I had my surgery and had my appointment and everything was coming along nicely. The next appointment after I had been at the scene of the bomb, they found the surgery to correct the perforated eardrum hadn't worked. It left me with a very low percentage of hearing in my left ear. I had further surgery a few years down the line. It was not a success either.
"I am waiting on corrective surgery to be performed in Altnagelvin Hospital at the minute. I could be called in the next couple of weeks. I could be called any time, as I opted for an emergency appointment" she said.
"In the 25 years my hearing is deteriorating. I am studying sign language because of the deterioration, as there is no guarantee surgery will correct it but I am willing to give it a try," she added.
Jennifer feels she is lucky that she was not one of the fatalities. "It has never been proved medically [that the bomb had an impact on my hearing]. Previous to it I did have ear problems down the years from when I was a baby. After being at the scene of the bomb the surgery hadn't worked. I am consulting with my third ENT surgeon. In my heart of hearts, my gut feeling is that the blast did have an effect on my hearing and failed surgery. I don't know if it can be medically proved ," she said.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 08 Nov 12