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A photograph of Seamus Ludlow (47), Thistlecross, Mountpleasant, Dundalk, County Louth, an innocent Catholic victim of UDR/Red Hand Commando murder gang 1st/2nd May 1976. His killers were never brought to justice, although they had been identified by 1979.
Last updated: 18/01/03
The Ludlow Family excluded from the inquest, 19 August 1976.
Seamus Ludlow was an innocent Catholic bachelor and a lifelong resident of County Louth, who was abducted and murdered south of the Irish border after leaving a Dundalk pub, on the night of 1st and 2nd May 1976. His killers are now known to have been members of the British Army Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) and the outlawed Red Hand Commando murder gang, an offshoot of the equally notorious Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). .
Seamus Ludlow was shot three times at close range and his body dumped in a lane near his home. His Loyalist killers have never been brought to justice. However, it is now known that their identities were known to the Gardai and the RUC as late as 1979, if not much earlier. It appears that one of these four men, perhaps the actual killer, was an agent who reported back to his handlers almost immediately and informed them of his involvement in the crime.
There is a strong suspicion that Seamus Ludlow's good name was smeared and his killers protected because the Gardai and the RUC wanted to protect an intelligence asset, perhaps the actual killer of Seamus Ludlow, within a Loyalist death squad. If this is true, then it can only be that Seamus Ludlow was expendable in the eyes of the Gardai and the Dublin authorities who were only concerned about protecting his evil killer.
None of this was in the public domain in 1976 or for many years after. Indeed, from 1976 until 1998 the Ludlow family was being told lies by the Gardai. They said there were no other suspects, only the IRA. There was no new information, when, in fact, there was a secret file, marked classified, which identified four prime suspects, all Loyalists, dating from 1979.
These Gardai lies originated very soon after the murder was committed with false claims that Seamus was killed by the IRA because he was an informer. The conspiracy against truth and justice was also evident at the inquest into Seamus Ludlow, at which no member of the Ludlow family was present.
The Ludlow family firmly believes that it was effectively excluded from the subsequent inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow in Dundalk on 19 August 1976. Very little information shedding new light on the death of Seamus Ludlow emerged from the inquest at that time. To this day the family has never been informed of the forensic or ballistics information which should have been available to the inquest.
In the course of 1998 the Ludlow family acquired, through a Newry solicitor, copies of three written depositions made to the inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow. These depositions had never been seen by any member of the family prior to 1998.
The depositions were: by Kevin Ludlow, the victim's brother who identified the body of Seamus Ludlow; by Garda Sergeant Jim Gannon, Dromad Garda Station, who stated that he knew the deceased whom he discovered lying dead in the laneway; and from Dr. J.F.A. Harbinson, Irish State Pathologist, who carried out a post mortem examination at the mortuary in the Louth County Hospital, at Dundalk. Two of these depositions can be accessed on this site's chronology page.
The Gardai went to great lengths to keep the Ludlow family and its legal representatives away from the inquest. An approach was made to the wife of the victim's brother Kevin, who had identified the body, only 45 minutes before the inquest was set to begin. Kevin Ludlow was away at work and could not be contacted at such short notice. No attempt was made to inform Mrs. Nan Sharkey, the married sister with whom the victim had resided at Thistlecross.
The Ludlow family believes that they were deliberately excluded because the Gardai did not want them to be present to ask awkward questions about the calibre of firearm used in the killing. No such information appeared in the rather sparse local newspaper reports of the inquest or indeed in the otherwise detailed pathologist's report which has only recently come into the family's possession. No wonder that the family are asking, what were the Garda trying to hide from them? What dark secrets were being protected by keeping the family away from the inquest? Was Seamus Ludlow shot by a man carrying a British Army weapon?
The Ludlow family has in its possession written Gardai claims that the family had been informed in advance of the inquest. These claims reveal the extent of the authorities' desire to cover-up the true circumstances of Seamus Ludlow's murder and also their insensitivity to the feelings of the victim's family.
Detective Sergeant Jim Gannon, who was Sergeant at the nearby Dromad Garda Station, at the time of Seamus Ludlow's murder in 1976, wrote to a family solicitor on 16 January 1997. This letter was written just a year before the emergence of new information and the arrest of four Loyalists by the RUC in the North. D/Sergeant Gannon gave evidence at the inquest in August 1976 and he was involved in the initial murder investigation. In the course of his letter, D/Sergeant. Gannon wrote:
"In relation to the inquest, I wish to state that a member attached to Dundalk Station, had, at the time, been given the task of notifying witnesses and family of the inquest, but it appears he overlooked your client. I only became aware of this on the date of the inquest and did everything I could to correct the situation."
Clearly Mr. Gannon was misinformed and equally clearly neither he nor any other Garda officer brought the inquest to the notice of any other member of the Ludlow family circle.
In November 1979 another Garda officer, Superintendent Richard Fahy, wrote to the late writer Michael Cunningham, and he stated: "A member of the Ludlow family was notified in advance of the date and time of the inquest." Mr. Fahy had a perfect recollection of something that simply never happened. Hopefully he will be more helpful if and when he is questioned before an inquiry in the near future.
Many questions were asked by friends and neighbours about the murder of Seamus Ludlow. No doubt the Gardai were aware of these. There were reports of British Army Special Air Service (SAS) hit squads operating in the border area during the mid-1970s. There was suspicion that eight SAS men arrested at Omeath just a few days after Seamus Ludlow's murder may have been in some way responsible.
This is a photograph taken at the murder scene on the day after Seamus Ludlow's body was discovered. Various members of the Dublin murder squad and Dundalk Gardai officers can be seen, but what were they looking for? As with everything else in this sad case, they were searching for the killers in the wrong place.
There were reports of republicans in the Dundalk area appearing in Northern courts, having been snatched by British Army undercover squads. There were rumours that Seamus Ludlow closely resembled a known republican who lived in Dundalk and that he may have been a victim of mistaken identity, killed by men sent to snatch or kill the other man. This theory was reported by John Keane in the Sunday World newspaper, 16 May 1976. There were reports from a petrol pump attendant along the Newry Road of two men with English accents buying petrol on the night of Seamus Ludlow's murder, though no clear link with his death has been established.
John Keane in the Sunday World newspaper of 16 May 1976 reported that local people he had seen "say that the sleeves of the murdered man's coat were ripped out. This could be relevant to the mistaken identity theory, for the Provo marksman they may have thought they had "lifted" is tattooed on both arms".
Latest: In 2002, the Irish Attorney General ordered a fresh inquest into the death of Seamus Ludlow.
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The Argus, 27 August 1976, Inquest hears of North Louth shooting
A Fresh Inquest for Seamus Ludlow
The Irish Independent, 19 July 2002: Fresh inquest into death of murdered man
See also Argus newspaper 30 August 1985
Go to Michael Cunningham's investigation, 1978
Go to Profile
Go to Chronology
Go to a Map of north Louth
Go to Feedback Form
Magill, April 1999: Murder, Collusion and Lies.
Launch of journalist Joe Tiernan's book The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings and the Murder Triangle - December 2002
The Ludlow Family's Guestbook
© 2003 the Ludlow family. All rights reserved.
Revised: January 18, 2003 .