A MOMENT OF SILENCE
AUGUST 15th, 1998
Lyrics written by: Gerard McNamee, Jr.
Music written by: Bill Campion
Performed by: Bill Campion, Bill Ryan and Brendan Ryan of the Bogmen and Pete Klinger and Brian Repka of Booga Sugar
Bill Campion: Vocals, Guitar
Bill Ryan: Guitar
Brendan Ryan: Samples
Peter Klinger: Drums
Brian Repka: Bass
Recorded at: Basement 74, NYC
Recorded by: Brendan Ryan, Peter Klinger and Bill Campion
Art Direction: Patrick Rey
Front Cover Design: Matt Mahurin
Graphic Design: Patrick Rey
Click Here to Listen!
THE GREEN, WHITE AND ORANGE, THE UNION JACK
WE MUST PUSH FORWARD, WE CANNOT TURN BACK
WE ALL WALK THESE STREETS PROUD OF OUR OWN
WE MUST LIVE TOGETHER, THE NORTH IS OUR HOME
THE HORROR AND HATE OF THIRTY YEARS TIME
IS FOREVER EMBEDDED DEEP IN OUR MINDS
INNOCENT FRIENDS AND FAMILY WHAT HAVE THEY DONE
FOR GOD’S SAKE SOMEONE GUIDE US, PEACE MUST BE WON
SING A SONG FOR PEACE
SING A SONG FOR THE NORTH
SING A SONG FOR THE PEOPLE
THE PEACE PROCESS MUST MARCH FORTH
SING A SONG FOR HOPE
WE SING OUT OUR PAIN
SING A SONG FOR THE FUTURE
SING LOUDLY PEACE WILL REIGN
BLAIR, ADAMS, HUME AND TRIMBLE
THE ETERNAL FLAME FOR PEACE, WE MUST REKINDLE
WE LONG FOR THE PEACE WE’VE NEVER KNOWN
WE MOURN FOR THE DEAD AND WOUNDED IN TYRONE
THE VOTE IS IN, THE NUMBERS HAVE SHOWN
WE WANT PEACE NOW, PEACE IN THE NORTH, PEACE IN OUR HOME
SING FOR THE DEAD, THE BURIED, THE WOUNDED AND MAIMED
WE SING TOGETHER, PEACE BE REGAINED
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, WE’LL STAND OUR GROUND
FREEDOM FOR THE TERROR MUST BE FOUND
CATHOLIC, PROTESTANT, NEIGHBORS ALL
WE WANT PEACE AND HARMONY ONCE AND FOR ALL
WE’VE ENDURED THESE TROUBLES SOME THIRTY ODD YEARS
THE BOMBINGS AND SHOOTINGS, OUR GREATEST FEARS
MOTHERS AND FATHERS THEY’VE SHED ENDLESS TEARS
THESE TROUBLES THAT WE’VE LIVED THROUGH
IS THE END ANYWHERE NEAR?
My name is Gerard McNamee, born August 5, 1969, in the Bronx, NYC. I am one of five children. My mother, formerly Helen Scales, one of five children, hails from Carnane, County Clare. My father, Gerard McNamee, is one of 14 children from Sixmilecross, County Tyrone. I was educated at Our Lady of Mercy Grammar School in Hicksville, Long Island and St. Mary’s Boys Preparatory High School in Manhasset, Long Island. I finished my education at Fordham University, Rose Hill, Bronx, NY.
I am in the nightclub business. My first experience in this line of work was as a student at Fordham University at a place called the Bronx River Yacht Club. At the BRYC I bartended and helped create the jukebox that was given the ‘Golden Juke Box Award’ by the Irish Voice. I also booked bands like Black 47, The Rogues March and The Bogmen there. After spending five years at Fordham, I bounced around the Hamptons for a few months taking on jobs such as bus boy, short order cook and porter.
When the season came to a close, much to my parents displeasure, and my own, I headed back to my family’s home in Hicksville. I sat in the room my brother Brian and I shared growing up staring at posters of U2, The Clash, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones. For three months I smoked cigarettes and borrowed babysitting money from my youngest sister Eileen for beer while I was trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. I had a college education and I did not know what to do with it. One Sunday morning I was reading the NY Times ‘Help Wanted’ section and there it was, ‘WANTED: NIGHTCLUB MANGAGER, FIVE YEARS NYC EXPERIENCE. FAX RESUME’. That was what I was waiting for, the break I needed. I wrote them a letter, loaded my resume and faxed it away. Ten days later I was a manager at one of New York City’s largest and most popular nightspots. I entertained Madonna, the Spice Girls, Nine Inch Nails and even President Clinton himself. Life was great, good money, great hours, good music and beautiful women left and right.
Then disaster and tragedy struck. On September 23rd, 1994, nine months after landing my dream job, my only brother Brian died at the tender age of twenty-one in a fire in Burlington, Vermont. He had just arrived at school to finish his final year. He was coming into his own. He was becoming a man. I would never see his red headed smiling face again.
Me and Brian had a great summer that year. We were at Giants Stadium to watch Ireland beat Italy in World Cup ’94. We were also lucky enough to see Mick, Keith and The Rolling Stones sing ‘Memory Motel’ at the very same stadium (Brian is currently a guest at the Memory Motel). We were riding high. Brian worked very hard that summer landscaping in 100-degree weather by day and taking classes at night so that he could graduate on time. This was very important to Mom! He did it. He worked and went to classes all summer. He bought a new car, new ski equipment and rented a house off-campus. This was important to him! One month later Brian was dead. His roommate Anthony died alongside him. No warning, no chance to say goodbye, no nothing.
The police showed up at our home in Hicksville at 9:00 am that Friday morning. Our lives were changed forever. It was now up to my Dad and I to tell the girls. How will we do it? What will we say? Will Mommy be able to handle it? Eileen and Mary Clare will be crushed. These were some of the thoughts racing through our minds. Dad and I drove to Holy Name Jesus Rectory where Mom worked (and still does) as an assistant to Monsignor Savastano. It was a beautiful morning. She saw us from her desk. A big smile. She met us at the door. She collapsed with agony, disbelief and terror. Next, Mom and I drove into New York City with Mary Clare’s boyfriend while Dad went to Hicksville High School to tell Eileen. Mare worked in the human resource department as an assistant to the director at Grey Advertising. I had arranged with one of her co-workers that I would call when we were in the lobby. His job was to get Mare downstairs and out of the building so that we wouldn’t make a scene. When she saw us she knew something was wrong. She knew someone was dead. She screamed and cursed and cried. “Why did this happen to us”, she asked, “how could this have happened?”
Poor little Leen. She was just 15 years old. She heard about it in school before Dad was able to get to her. When Mom, Mare and I arrived back in Hicksville we all hugged and cried and asked ‘Why? Why these senseless deaths? How could this have happened? Why us?’
I would imagine the people in Omagh are asking themselves some of the same questions. Just as Brian’s life was cut short, so too were the lives of those killed. There are so many unanswered questions, so many ‘what ifs’ and so many ‘could have beens’. The birthdays, holidays and anniversaries will obviously be painful. My family’s mourning and sense of loss continues today. As tragic as Brian’s death was and still is to my family, the aftermath of the tragedy in Omagh on August 15th, 1998 is magnified a mind-boggling twenty-eight times.
As a child I spent a number of summers in and around Omagh. I have also spent time in Cookstown, Finniskillen, Altamuskin, Beragh, Sixmilecross, Dromore, Carrickmore and Killyclougher (Augher, Clougher, Fivemiletown, Sixmilecross, sevenmile ‘round). It was my ‘summer camp’. I ran around the hills and fields with my slingshot hunting rabbits. We threw rocks at each other in the quarry. I remember the cattle, pigs and sheep being sold at auction. I anxiously awaited the arrival of the postman in is little red truck and the bread van. I loved that bread.
I can also remember the soldiers in the ditch in full camouflage with their fingers on the triggers of their machine guns. I remember the checkpoints, being taken from the car so it could be checked and the questions asked. I remember the red, white and blue curbs and the banners as we entered town. I can still see the murals. I can remember the hunger strike and the funerals that summer. I can still see the Union Jack and the tattered Tricolors waving in the wind in the treetops. I have seen posters that read, “Maggie Thatcher wanted dead or alive for murder.” I have seen T-shirts with pictures of Fred Flintstone on them that said, ‘yabba dabba doo, any Teague will do.’ I have read countless articles and books about ‘The Troubles’ and seen many headlines and news reports on the violence and riots and killings. The car bombs, bomb scares and bombings, the riots and killings and the petrol bombs and plastic bullets were endless. I cannot understand, nor would I ever claim to understand these things that I have experienced personally in County Tyrone. Let me say this. I have Irish blood running through my veins. However, I am an American. I was born and bred in New York, a ‘yank’ as my family in Belfast, Omagh and Sixmilecross sometimes affectionately refer to me as.
I hope my attempted involvement does not offend anyone. I am not some ‘yank’ who is going to offer some empty solution or my political beliefs. It is not my place, nor is it anyone’s who has not lived in Northern Ireland day in and day out for the last three decades. As an American, I am not able to grasp or understand the hundreds of years of sectarian violence and killing. As a human being however, I understand the helplessness and hopelessness that come with losing a loved one.
Upon hearing about the bombing, while watching a Yankee game in my Times Square apartment, I yelled out to my girlfriend Jill that Omagh had been bombed. I scrambled for the phone. Jill, my sister Mary Clare and I arrived home on August 8th after having stayed in Omagh for the better part of the past three weeks. I called five different homes numerous times before I got through. My family had escaped death. But what about those families that had not? My God, what do I say? During the next call I was told that one of my cousin’s husband’s nieces was missing and the other had lost an arm in the blast. I cried as I hung up the phone. What could I say? The next call was to my cousin Fergal who had stayed with me for six weeks this summer in New York City. He was born and raised in Omagh. I had been calling him for an hour. He finally answered the phone and my voice cracked with emotion. He gave me the details. He explained to me how the warning call had said there was a bomb in the courthouse. The authorities evacuated everyone to the other side of town. The bomb exploded on top of them.
I hung up the phone. “Those miserable, fucking murderous bastards!” I couldn’t contain my anger. I punched walls and slammed odors. ‘Somebody has to help these people,” I said, “somebody has to write a song.’ Jill responded, ‘You should write it.” I hopped in the shower to get ready for work. I wanted to get on a plane and go back ‘home’. I had no business doing that. All I could do was think, ‘Yankee go home’. While I was in the shower it came to me, ‘Sing a Song for Peace’. I got out of the shower and grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. I got dressed and went to work. We were slow that night so I disappeared upstairs for an hour. The bosses are cool, they’re Irish, they would understand. I finished the song at about 1:00 am New York time. I called my friend Billy Campion who is in a band called The Bogmen. I left him a message. He called the next morning and said he was out of town and would be home late Sunday night. We would meet first thing Monday morning. We met down at his apartment on the Lower East Side of New York. He agreed to write the music.
During our conversation he pointed behind me and said, “Check that out.” I turned around and it was pouring rain. On the wall behind me across the street there was a camouflage mural painted on the wall. Painted in the background, in the upper right hand corner was a white square with a red cross in it. “How ironic”, we thought. The two were juxtaposed. The red cross represented some sort of hospital or doctor’s office or something signaling help. Help is a needed in Omagh. I don’t know what the camouflage was meant to represent. To me though, it represented the hateful sectarian violence that has existed in Northern Ireland for generations. The innocent people in Northern Ireland do not deserve this fate.
My brother Brian is my inspiration for everything I do today. A MOMENT OF SILENCE was written out of the sadness and grief I feel for the innocent and deeply loved mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters of Omagh, County Tyrone. It is for these people and all families and members of the community of Omagh that this song is for. A MOMENT OF SILENCE is a non-sectarian, non-denominational, non-political cry for peace. It is one Irish-American man’s words. It is my attempt to reach out to my fellow human beings to say “I feel your pain”. We will never ever understand how you feel now or how much this will change your lives.
A MOMENT OF SILENCE is dedicated to the victims and families of Omagh County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, whose lives have been ripped apart, whose hearts have been broken and whose families have been shattered. Your lives will never be the same. This song is dedicated to the unborn, the young, the old and the innocent whose beautiful and smiling faces you will never see again. I am sorry. I am praying for you all. May God help you.
Gerard McNamee, Jr.
August 15th, 1998
‘With this faith
We will be able to transform
The jangling discords of our nations
Into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood
With this faith
We will be able to work together
To pray together
To struggle together
To go to jail together
Knowing that we will be free one day’
--Dr Martin Luther King Jr.
‘An eye for an eye and we’ll all blind.’
‘Courage is the price
That life extracts for granting peace.’
Blessed are the peacemakers:
For they shall be called the children of God
--St. Matthew 5:4, 9
Press for Moment of Silence
By RICHARD JOHNSON
Wed, September 16, 1998
ROCKAWAYS police and Parks Dept. officials have no sense of humor. After reading our item on the Bogmen's annual unsactioned, free-spirited beachfront concerts there, town brass pulled the plug on this year's event - even though the gig was city-approved and permit-promised this time around. We shouldn't have waved those old concerts in their faces, said contrite percussionist P.J. O'Connor, who sat on a beach all night last Saturday, turning away fans who'd come from as far as the Jersey shore. The cancellation was a particuar blow to the Wheelman, a Rockaways local with muscular dystrophy, who was to benefit from the show's proceeds. What's more, frontman Billy Campion had planned to debut A Moment of Silence, written with pal Gerard McNamee. Proceeds from that song are going to victims of the bombing in Omagh, Ireland, where McNamee has family.
By MARCUS BARAM & K.C. BAKER
Thur, August 27, 1998
PAUSE FOR A CAUSE The bomb that took the lives of 28 people in Omagh, Northern Ireland, stunned no one more than New Yorker Gerard McNamee. The songwriter, whose family hails from Omagh, has recorded a lament to the victims will Bill Campion of the Bogmen. Call (212) 768-4031 for a copy. All proceeds from "A Moment of Silence" go to the Omagh Memorial Trust Fund. Donations to the fund can also be made care of First Trust Bank, High Street, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Meanwhile, Daily News photographer Michael Schwartz' provocative portraits of Belfast's children go on display Sept. 8 at the Cooper Gallery in Jersey City.