Attack on Cloghogue checkpoint
The attack on Cloghogue checkpoint was an unconventional bomb attack carried out on 1 May 1992 by the Provisional Irish Republican Army
Provisional Irish Republican Army
The Provisional Irish Republican Army is an Irish republican paramilitary organisation whose aim was to remove Northern Ireland from the United Kingdom and bring about a socialist republic within a united Ireland by force of arms and political persuasion...

 (IRA) against a British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 permanent vehicle checkpoint (PVCP-R15). The compound, located north of the village of Cloghogue, County Armagh
County Armagh
-History:Ancient Armagh was the territory of the Ulaid before the fourth century AD. It was ruled by the Red Branch, whose capital was Emain Macha near Armagh. The site, and subsequently the city, were named after the goddess Macha...

, was wrecked by the explosion.

The attack

During the late hours of 1 May, a group of four Provisional IRA members held a family hostage in Killean and stole a mechanical excavator
Excavators are heavy construction equipment consisting of a boom, stick, bucket and cab on a rotating platform . The house sits atop an undercarriage with tracks or wheels. A cable-operated excavator uses winches and steel ropes to accomplish the movements. They are a natural progression from the...

. This heavy vehicle was to be used to build a makeshift ramp aimed at the Dublin–Belfast railway line which drew parallel to the Belfast-Dublin motorway (M1).
At the same time, other IRA members stole a Renault Master
Renault Master
Renault Master is the name used by French vehicle manufacturer Renault for its upper-medium size van — similar in size to the largest models of the more common Ford Transit....

 van in Dundalk
Dundalk is the county town of County Louth in Ireland. It is situated where the Castletown River flows into Dundalk Bay. The town is close to the border with Northern Ireland and equi-distant from Dublin and Belfast. The town's name, which was historically written as Dundalgan, has associations...

, which was then loaded with 2,200 lb (1,000 kg) of semtex
Semtex is a general-purpose plastic explosive containing RDX and PETN. It is used in commercial blasting, demolition, and in certain military applications. Semtex became notoriously popular with terrorists because it was, until recently, extremely difficult to detect, as in the case of Pan Am...

. The van was equipped with wheels fitted to run on the rails. The excavator, moving along the ramp, lifted the van onto the railway, which was then driven to a hill some 800 metres north, where a mile-long wire attached to a triggering device was added to the van. Meanwhile, IRA members in support set up roadblocks on both sides of the border to prevent people from approaching the area. The IRA unit who set up a bogus checkpoint in the Republic wore Garda Síochána
Garda Síochána
, more commonly referred to as the Gardaí , is the police force of Ireland. The service is headed by the Commissioner who is appointed by the Irish Government. Its headquarters are located in the Phoenix Park in Dublin.- Terminology :...


Around 2:00 AM, the vehicle was clamped into first gear and directed at R15 checkpoint, a permanent vehicle checkpoint on M1 motorway, alongside the railway. A British Army patrol from the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
Royal Regiment of Fusiliers
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Queen's Division.The regiment was formed on April 23, 1968, as part of the reforms of the army that saw the creation of the first 'large infantry regiments', by the amalgamation of the four English fusilier...

 heard the noise of a 'train' and spotted the improbable van on the rails heading towards the checkpoint, which was alerted immediately. The sentry at R15, Fusilier Andrew Grundy, spotted the incoming threat and alerted the other soldiers in the checkpoint, who were able to take shelter from the bomb. Grundy tried to disable the device with gunfire, to no avail. Meanwhile an IRA member, from the high terrain south of the position, waited for the van to reach its target. At 2:05, the explosive went off, demolishing the checkpoint. Fusilier Grundy was killed almost instantly, while 23 troops were injured. The rest of the soldiers, all inside a reinforced concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 facility, survived despite the massive blast.


Fusilier G. A. Colman was awarded a GOC
General Officer Commanding
General Officer Commanding is the usual title given in the armies of Commonwealth nations to a general officer who holds a command appointment. Thus, a general might be the GOC II Corps or GOC 7th Armoured Division...

 commendation for his role in the rescue of the body of Fusilier Grundy and the wounded soldiers.

The official report about this incident stated: "This was a well-planned and well-executed attack indicative of the imaginative, innovative and capable nature of South Armagh PIRA."

The checkpoint was never re-opened. Another smaller PVCP was built a few miles to the west; the new checkpoint cost ₤7 million, only to be removed by 1998, after the Good Friday Agreement.

See also

  • Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1990-1999)
    Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions (1990-1999)
    This is a chronology of activities by the Provisional Irish Republican Army , from 1990 to 1999. For actions before and after this period see Chronology of Provisional Irish Republican Army actions....

  • Attack on Derryard checkpoint
    Attack on Derryard checkpoint
    The attack on Derryard checkpoint was a raid carried out on 13 December 1989 by a Provisional Irish Republican Army unit against a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint manned by soldiers of the King's Own Scottish Borderers . It occurred near the Northern Ireland–Republic of Ireland border at...

  • Glenanne barracks bombing
    Glenanne barracks bombing
    The Glenanne barracks bombing was a large truck bomb attack carried out by the Provisional IRA against a British Army base at Glenanne, near Mountnorris, County Armagh...

  • Drummuckavall Ambush
    Drummuckavall Ambush
    The Drummuckavall Ambush was a Provisional Irish Republican Army attack on a British Army observation post southeast of Crossmaglen, County Armagh, along the border with the Republic of Ireland...

  • Proxy bomb
    Proxy Bomb
    The proxy bomb was a tactic used by the Provisional Irish Republican Army for a short time in the early 1990s, whereby members of the British security forces or British Army employees were forced to drive car bombs into British military targets, after taking their families as hostages. It has...

Further reading

  • Dunstan, Simon (2002). For England and St. George: A History of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. Helion & Company Limited. ISBN 0954006704
  • Harnden, Toby
    Toby Harnden
    Toby Harnden is an Anglo-American journalist and author. He has been US editor of The Daily Telegraph since 2006.-Background:...

    (2000). Bandit Country: The IRA & South Armagh. Coronet Books, London. ISBN 0340717378
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