Prince Charles returns to Omagh to perform poignant duty as families reflect on The Troubles' darkest day

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall pause for a few moments silence as they remember the victims of the Omagh bombing. Credit:

The rain held off just long enough in the memorial garden this afternoon where they remember the 29 who died.

And just as he did in the days after the bomb 20 years ago, Prince Charles laid a wreath and paused for a few moments silence.

Today he was joined by the Duchess of Cornwall.

They were looking at the wall where the names of the dead – which include two unborn baby girls – are etched in the grey stone.

The word ‘Omagh’ represents the darkest of day for the conflict in this part of Ireland.

Just at a point when the people here had dared to hope they were moving forward – the Good Friday Agreement had just been approved in a referendum – a bomb tore through the main shopping street in this market town in County Tyrone.

"We didn’t think it was a bomb at first," said one of the paramedics we met today right at the spot where the bomb went off.

They, like many others, had thought the car bombs and the deaths had been to left in the past.

But the Omagh bomb on that August day in 1998 killed more people than any other single event in the many years of what became known as The Troubles.

Esther Gibson was one of the 29.

A Sunday school teacher, recently engaged, planning her future.

Esther’s picture was fastened to the bouquet of flowers today which her sister laid in the garden.

Caroline Martin reflected on the twenty years between now and then.

The Prince came to Omagh in 1998.

Life has moved for her boys – who are growing up in a safer, brighter world than their Aunty Esther had.

But Caroline can’t forget.

Every day she remembers her sister, and how she died.

Be that when she’s driving or when she closes her door at home, she still longs to see Esther again.

Caroline spoke to both Charles and Camilla and they talked about the family’s loss.

When the Prince came here in 1998 he spoke of the anger people were feeling and how, in a small way, he could share those feelings as he’d had them after the death of his great-uncle, Lord Louis Mountbatten, who was killed by the IRA along with others members of his family in 1979.

The visit by the Prince and Duchess today is a few weeks before the anniversary date.

But when an event has touched a town as deeply as this one did in Omagh – it’s a moment you cannot remember enough.