Barney O’Dowd celebrating his 100th birthday with his daughters Eleanor O’Sullivan (left) and Mary Adams and back row, from left, granddaughter Grace O’Sullivan, and sons Loughlin, Cathal and Noel.

Troubles survivor Barney O'Dowd passes away aged 100

One of the oldest survivors of the Troubles, Barney O'Dowd, who was shot five times in an attack that claimed the lives of his brother and two sons, has passed away at the age of 100.

A native of Ballydougan, Co Down, Barney and his late wife Kathleen left their home and business behind following the horrific attack to settle outside Navan and rear their children in the peace of the Meath countryside.

Barney loved his adopted home of Meath where he lived for almost five decades and last May celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by his family.

Barney passed away at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown on Wednesday. He was predeceased by his wife Kathleen and sons Barry and Declan.

He is survived by his children Mary, Noel, Loughlin, Ronan, Eleanor and Cathal, 18 grandchildren, seven great-grandchildren, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, nieces, nephews, relatives and a large circle of friends in the North and South.

His Funeral Mass will take place in St Mary's Church, Navan, at 10am on Monday with burial to take place afterwards at Mountown Cemetery.

Below is the article carried by the Meath Chronicle to mark the occasion of Barney's 100th birthday:

A born survivor and true inspiration... Barney O'Dowd celebrates 100th birthday

On Wednesday of last week, Barney O'Dowd celebrated his 100th birthday surrounded by his family. A remarkable achievement for anyone, even more so for Barney who survived being shot five times during a gun attack on his home that claimed the lives of two of his sons, Barry (24) and Declan (19), and his older brother Joe (61), during the height of the Troubles.

The horrors of 4th January 1976 are something that will haunt the family forever but Barney’s wife Kathleen was determined to take their remaining children out of what son Loughlin describes as the "poisonous atmosphere" they lived in and convinced her husband to start a new and peaceful life in the south.

During his father's recovery, Loughlin told how a friend took him out for a spin and said Barney felt there was something special about Meath. He loved the big open fields and beautiful countryside and was particularly taken with Navan. He liked that it was an industrious and prosperous town, very different to where they had come from.

They left their home in Ballydougan, Co Down, to settle at Corballis, just outside Navan. Loughlin recalls that their neighbours welcomed them with open arms and were a great support to his parents at the time when they needed it.

It was a huge upheaval for the family and Loughlin, then 17, said while they had a huge attachment to their home in Down, their neighbours and cousins, he still remembers the sense of freedom and peace he felt when they came here.

"It was unbelievable. Coming from a war-torn part of the country to this tranquil, beautiful part of the country. We could go anywhere we wanted. At home we were afraid to go certain places. It was a different world to what we came to here.”

Noel, at 22, was older and said it was a very reluctant move but their "mother couldn't go through another winter in an isolated area. She was totally traumatised."

He said it was a big wrench to move, especially for him and his sister Mary who were adults, but says they would never have had the quality of life they went on to have and would have “always been looking over their shoulder” if they had stayed.

Barney had a thriving milk retail business and was a coal merchant but left all that behind. At 52, the career he knew was over but he bought a bit of land in Meath and threw himself into his love of horses and was a very successful breeder and also kept cattle. Some of his grandchildren inherited Barney’s love of horses and bringing them all over the country to hunts and events was a source of great pride for him.

Noel told how his father had an incredible work ethic and his motto was if a job was worth doing, it was worth doing right.

Barney O'Dowd, born in 1923 with great-granddaughter Bóinn, born in 2023- 100 years apart.

Barney lived in Corballis until Kathleen passed away in 1999 when he moved to live with his daughter, Eleanor O'Sullivan, in Kiltale. Loughlin continues to live in the family home near Garlow Cross.

After their mother died, the family took the difficult decision to exhume Barry and Declan's remains and re-inter them in Mountown Cemetery with their mother.

They took on the task of exhuming their brothers’ remains themselves and felt it was something they had to do, and in ways it gave them some closure.

"The girls weren’t in favour, they thought it would be too traumatic, but we knew it was the right thing to do. It gave dad the chance to bury his children,” said Loughlin. Barney was in intensive care in hospital when the funerals of his sons and brother were taking place.

"It gave him the chance to carry their coffins, which is big thing up North,” added Loughlin.

It was a miracle that Barney himself survived the attack. Years later, Loughlin told how his father went up north for an operation on a hernia where he was treated by the same consultant who treated him after being shot.

Loughlin recalled: "The consultant said 'Barney I don’t know if you remember me. I worked on you after you were shot. I always remembered you. Your case was so unique. We deal with car accidents and bomb injuries and all sorts of trauma but you are the one we all remember. The bullet was going straight for your heart and for no reason the bullet turned 90 degrees. We never saw anything like that before”.

Despite the great tragedy he endured, Barney has continued to have a positive outlook and great attitude to life.

He has always kept himself fit, walking every day and always watched his diet and looked after himself.

Living in an annex at his daughter Eleanor’s house, Barney continued to be very independent up until about six months ago.

Loughlin told how he was out cutting hedges and busy pottering in the polytunnel until three years ago. He was driving until four years ago when Noel said he had "very reluctantly handed over the keys".

Barney continues to have a huge interest in current affairs and the news, reading the Irish Times from cover to cover every day and loves to do the crossword.

Noel said he could converse on any topic from world affairs.

He also loves to watch sports on television and particularly enjoys boxing.

A great reader, Noel said he is “never without a book in his hand”. He always dresses smartly and enjoys dancing. Indeed, at 90 years of age, he was not one bit phased to take on the challenge of doing Strictly Come Dancing event for Moynalvey Football Club with dance partner Breda Pearle.

Barney had been looking forward to getting to 100 and Loughlin said his father always said he would reach the milestone.

Noel said: "It is a remarkable achievement. Not too many people see it. He always wanted to.

“While a lot of people as they get older get tired and are ready to pass away, he has such a zest for life and always wanted to live. It is a great quality, especially after all the trauma emotionally and physically, he had in his life.

“That is the type of person he was, and still is. “

Barney was delighted to get his card of congratulations from President Michael D Higgins which included a personal note: "I am conscious, I can 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.

He also got a note of congratulations from Jon Boutcher, a former British chief constable who is leading a new investigation into the O'Dowd and related killings known as the Glenanne Gang Series.

"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.

Barney has always been an inspiration to his family - Mary, Noel, Loughlin, Ronan, Eleanor and Cathal - as well as his 18 grandchildren. He is also proud great-grandfather to seven great-grandchildren, the youngest of whom Bóinn was born in January this year- 100 years after her great grandfather.

"We have always been very proud of dad. He has been my hero. Each and every one of us think there was nobody like him. We couldn’t have asked for better parents.

"He guided us right through all our lives and we all owe a huge debt to dad for being the people we are," said Loughlin.