The Road to Aughnacloy
written by John Connery

The mainly protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary were charged with keeping the peace by, and for, the Northern Ireland Unionist government. Defined by Catholics as anti-Nationalist and sometimes by Protestants as "not Unionist enough," they often found themselves in the firing line from all sides.

This is a beautifully written ballad in the traditional vein from the pen of my good friend John Connery, recalling the human emotions and life changing moments surrounding an ambush that took place near Aughnacloy in Co Tyrone.


It was on a winter's morning, to the border we where bound
We went up Clogher valley and on to Fivemiletown
A two day stint at O.P.'s* didn’t fill our hearts with joy
But we laughed and joked and bantered on the road to Aughnacloy

There was big Jim Crooks and Sandy the boy from county Down
Myself and oul' Willy Walker were both from Belfast town
That man would not stop complaining, he acted just like a boy
But we carried on regardless on the road to Aughnacloy

It was cold, as we marched along, each one thought of home
But duty was upon us and for that we dare not roam
We walked into an ambush intending us to destroy
The shots rang out like cannons on the road to Aughnacloy

I saw oul' Willy falling and clutching hold of his thigh
Big Jimmy slumped onto the ground and with his dying cry
He shouted to us "take cover", but Sandy the wee Banbridge boy
Died in my arms soon after, on the road to Aughnacloy

Oh why had I to live on and suffer the cruel sight
Of watching my three comrades slain without as much as a fight
I'll never forget big Jimmy or oul' Willy and the wee Banbridge boy
As I go on a family outing along the road to Aughnacloy

*OP=Observation post