SENATOR GORDON WILSON (1927-1995) – peace campaigner and politician.

Gordon was born into a Methodist family in the townland of Strawbrick, two miles west of Manorhamilton.  He was educated at the local Masterson National School and later at Wesley College in Dublin.  His father George ran a drapery shop (now Mountain View Restaurant) in Manorhamilton and opened another in Enniskillen during the 1940s.  It was here that Gordon started as a trainee.   Gordon married Joan Watson in 1955 and the couple went on to have four children.   The youngest, Marie, became a nurse and worked in the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.  On 8th November 1987, when she and her father were attending a Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen, Marie was killed in an IRA explosion.  In the spirit of Christianity, Gordon forgave her killers with the words ‘I bear no ill-will, I bear no grudge’.  These sentiments touched the hearts of people around the world.  He received a tribute from Queen Elizabeth and was voted Man of the Year by the BBC’s Today programme.   In 1993 he accepted an invitation from Taoiseach Albert Reynolds to become a member of Seanad Eireann.  He later made a number of noteworthy contributions in this chamber.  His inspirational first speech to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin the following year brought him a standing ovation.  On 27th June 1995 Gordon Wilson died peacefully at his home in Enniskillen.  But he had invariably retained a love of his native place, remarking on one occasion:  ‘I’ll always be proud to say that I was born in Manorhamilton’.