Death in the Fields: The IRA in East Tyrone


Jonathan Trigg

This is the story of the Troubles in the fields, towns and villages of East Tyrone, as told by the people who fought it.



‘In Belfast the Provos were trying to make the 6 o’clock news, in East Tyrone they were trying to kill you.’

With the advent of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA (PIRA) became active in the towns and villages of East Tyrone, the volunteers forming the so-called East Tyrone Brigade and carrying out attacks on members of the security forces. Drawing volunteers from the region’s tight-knit Catholic communities, many with republican sympathies dating back generations, the Brigade became renowned for the deadly nature of its attacks and its operational and technological innovations.

By the mid-1980s, with a hard core of experienced volunteers and a mass of weaponry from Colonel Gaddafi’s Libyan government, the East Tyrone Brigade were successfully prosecuting a ‘no-go zone’ strategy designed to change the face of the war in Northern Ireland. Then, one spring night in May 1987, the Brigade launched an attack on the Royal RUC’s isolated base in the Armagh village of Loughgall. The British were waiting. All eight members of the East Tyrone Brigade team were killed. From then onwards the Brigade was fighting for its life, and by the time of the IRA Ceasefire in 1997, PIRA’s feared East Tyrone Brigade was a shadow of its former self.

This is the story of the war in the fields, towns and villages of East Tyrone, as told by the people who fought it.



1. A History of War & Bloodshed
2. The Troubles Begin
3. The Mallon & McKenna Years
4. Comrade Mao’s Liberated Zones & Northern Ireland
5. The A Team
6. Loughgall
7. The War Goes On
8. East Tyrone Slaughtered
9. The Long Wind Down
Appendix A: Excerpt from a Jane’s Defence Review report (August 1996) on the Provisional IRA and its structures


About the Author
A graduate of Bristol University and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Jonathan Trigg served as an infantry officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment, completing tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia, as well as the Gulf. He is the author of over a dozen books of military history, his book on the destruction of Hitler’s Axis allies in Russia, Death on the Don, being nominated for The Pushkin Prize for Russian history in 2014.

Praise for Death in the Fields

‘[A] painstakingly even-handed and insightful study. Impressively researched and even-handed … Death in the Fields is a chilling and timely reminder of what could happen if Northern Ireland’s fragile peace ever breaks down again.’ – Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post