The family of a young Omagh bombing victim have spoken about the rush of emotion they experienced after they discovered recording of his voice.
Oran Doherty was eight years old when he was killed in the attack and his family heard his voice for the first time in 20 years after finding a toy tape recorder in their attic.
The recording featured Oran telling jokes, talking to his brother and singing to his little sister.
The recording was put away into the attic in the family’s Co Donegal home after the bombing in 1998 as it was too difficult to see Oran’s toys every day.
It remained in the attic until Oran’s sister found it over Christmas last year. The family gathered around and listened to it together.
Another sister, Lisa, told the Belfast Telegraph what had happened on that tragic day in 1998.
She said: “That morning I remember him coming in to my room. I had been on my holidays in Spain and I had brought back some hard-boiled sweets.
“I heard Oran rummaging about in the sweetie packet. He woke me, and I asked him what he was doing.
“He held out his little hand and showed me four sweets – he was a bad traveller and thought they helped him with sickness on the bus.
“I told him he could take as many as he wanted, but he said he only needed two for the way up to Omagh and two for the way home.
“But he never came home. That was the last time I saw my little brother. He was brought home in a coffin.
“Later that day I was in the Main Street in Buncrana and someone told me there was a bomb in Omagh. My heart just sank and I got a sick feeling in my stomach.
“We went to my mother’s house and we met my mother in the street. She was hysterical.
“Hours went by and we heard that our cousin Emmet, who was with Oran, was found, was injured and was going for surgery.
“Then we heard that Oran was OK and was on the bus home. We were so relieved. We went to the bus and we watched all the children get off, except Oran.
“As the day went on we knew it wasn’t good. The next morning daddy called home and my mum told him little Sean McLaughlin was dead.
“My daddy just said: ‘And so is our wee Oran’. It’s a moment I will never, ever forget. It will haunt me forever.”
Lisa went on to talk about the impact of rediscovering the tape recorder had had on the family.
She said: “Oran got a little tape recorder and microphone from Santa that year and had carried it about with him singing and talking into it.
“My sister had found the recorder. She asked daddy if she could listen to Oran’s voice on her birthday.
“We were in my parents’ house on Christmas Eve and daddy came in with it and said we could listen. He couldn’t listen to it himself. It was so hard to hear his little voice.
“I just remembered it so well, him singing songs and talking to his little brother and sister, humming and having a laugh with them, rocking them to sleep and singing them songs. He was such a happy little boy.”
Lisa added that she thinks about her brother more and more as the 20th anniversary of his death approaches.
She said: “I’m strong but I think about it more now than I ever did. My youngest son Bobby is eight years old, the same age as Oran was.
“There are so many similarities between Bobby and Oran and I definitely find it a lot harder to talk about now.
“No one was ever convicted. That would make you angry if you started to think about it.
“If I could speak to the people who did this, I would ask them how they sleep at night. I don’t know how they can live with that on their conscience or walk about doing their normal life knowing what they have done.
“I would ask them to be a good human being and put your hands up and say you did it. I think they should be honest with the families. We deserve some sort of truth.”
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