Barney O’Dowd reached the milestone of his 100th birthday yesterday 3rd of May,for anyone a great achievement.

Even more so with this gentleman.

He survived been shot a number of times, lost two of his sons Barry and Declan along with his own brother Joe during the Troubles. It was the malicious act of cowardice carried out by loyalist paramilitaries at his farmhouse in Ballydougan, Co Down on the 4th January 1976.

Barney and all his family were keen to send the message that they are still seeking the truth and answers to their loved ones that were massacred on the day.

 That evening also saw the attack on the Reavey family, three brothers John,Brian and Anthony were murdered  in Whitecross,Co Armagh.

It is an opportunity to highlight  and voice their opposition to the proposed British legacy bill for all the families and friends. They want justice and if the bill goes ahead the truth is left behind and buried.’ Its our chance to let people know how we feel ,what we went through and still today, the events of that day are fresh in our minds’ adds Eleanor, Barney’s daughter.’

It’s not just us but other families who need to get the answers’ she adds.

In the aftermath of the tragedy Mr O’Dowd along with his wife,Kathleen and family moved to Kilcarn Heights outside Navan. He had a positive attitude to life and he along with Kathleen settled down and reared their  surviving family who all have built their careers and lives. He is deeply proud of them but he had the strength of character to live and bring that strength to the family. anyone that met him was met with a strong handshake and smile. He has a charisma about him and still could enjoy life.He has the ability to carry no hatred.

His wife Kathleen passed away in 1999, also a strong and amicable woman. In later years he moved to Kiltale, Drumree to live with his daughter Eleanor,still a very independent man.

His strong work ethic ,only giving up driving just four years ago and gardening and cutting hedges up to two years ago show a steely determination in him.

Barney O’Dowd celebrated his 100th birthday at his home on Wednesday, with his daughters, Mary and Eleanor, and sons, Noel, Cathal, Loughlin and Ronan.

There were dozens of cards and well wishers and a message and card from President Michael D Higgins, accompanying his centenarian bounty of €2,540.

In a handwritten postscript, Mr Higgins wrote: “I am conscious, I assure you, of the great sorrow inflicted on you, and personal suffering too, which makes it even more important, even at a distance. I will salute your indomitable spirit on the day, and recall those taken from you.”

There was also a tribute paid by Jon Boutcher, a former British chief constable who is leading a new investigation into the O’Dowd murders and related killings known as the Glenanne Gang series,who also sent his congratulations. “I have met many people who might consider themselves important and of a high status in society. None of these people hold a candle to you… You are an inspiration,” he wrote.

There is little more to add except enjoy the achievement and best wishes Barney.

Pic above: Barney O’Dowd with his children,Eleanor,Louglin,Noel and Cathal. (Credit: Hugh Russell,Irish News)