What Is A Free Nation?

In the Workers’ Republic of February 12th, 1916, James Connolly posed the question “What is a free nation?” and, further, whether the Home Rule bill would make Ireland free in the requisite sense. “No” was his answer to the latter, and instead sovereignty would have to be reclaimed, by force if necessary: “There can be no perfect Europe in which Ireland is denied even the least of its national rights; there can be no worthy Ireland whose children brook tamely such denial. If such denial has been accepted by soulless slaves of politicians then it must be repudiated by Irish men and women whose souls are still their own. … A destiny not of our fashioning has chosen this generation as the one called upon for the supreme act of self-sacrifice – to die if need be that our race might live in freedom.”

For the previous Connolly quote in this location see A Word Of Conjure With.

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Looking After Each Other

The former Ardoyne IRA memorial garden is now Ardoyne Youth Club’s ‘Garden Of Hope’, launched by Mayor John Finucane and actor Tim McGarry (‘Da’ from Give My Head Peace) on September 10th to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day – see second image, below.

“Be strong enough [to stand alone, smart enough] to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it” is a quote from financier Ziad Abdelnour (whose ‘strong’ promises of return on investment made him the subject of an investigation by the [US] Securities & Exchange Commission). It is used here in modified form in this anti-suicide mural encouraging Ardoyne youth (and others) to seek help for depression from Lifeline, PIPS, Samaritans, Lighthouse, Bridge Of Hope, Extern, Suicide Awareness And Support Group, .

The other quote – “I believe that the basic attribute of mankind is to look after each other” – is from Fred Hollows, New Zealand-born ophthalmologist, initially famous for treating trachoma in Aborigines.

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The Men And Women Of Violence

“Saoradh salute the men and women of violence.” Namely the signatories to the 1916 Proclamation, the women of the 1970s IRA, and modern “dissidents” with home-made weapons. Soaradh currently (mid-late 2019, in the wake of the death of Lyra McKee) no longer has a web site or Twitter feed, and the Belfast and Derry section’s Facebook pages are non-existent (other section’s pages are still up, including Tyrone, Dublin, and Munster).

On the same wall as the Larry Marley plaque.

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The Shadow Of A Gunman

Lyra McKee was killed observing a riot in Creggan, Derry, in April. The (New) IRA apologised for the consequences of the gun attack on police but did not suggest an end to violence (Guardian). The (presumably unfinished) stencil to McKee’s memory on Ardoyne Avenue (below) is now in the shadow of the “IRA” and assault rifle cut-outs (shown above) on the lamp-pole opposite.

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Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen, And Ardoyne

Martin Meehan joined the IRA in 1966 and was one of a few IRA volunteers defending Catholics in Ardoyne (Ard Eoin) in August 1969. Rioting did not cease there until the 16th, when British troops were finally deployed to the Crumlin Road to block mobs coming from the Woodvale and Shankill. Meehan resigned after the failure of the IRA to defend Ardoyne, Clonard, and Divis. This Magill article from the time summarises the IRA’s actions as “late, amateur and uncertain”.(Meehan would later rejoin the IRA and PIRA.)

After a few years honoring Seán McCaughey (see Chains And Bonds Have No Part In Us), Martin Meehan’s image (along with an RNU phoenix) is back on the Ardoyne Avenue gable that bears his plaque. The title of today’s post is based on the song “The Night We Burnt Ardoyne“.

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Billy Hanna

“William ‘Billy’ Hanna” murdered 21/6/1978. We will remember. Pride Of Ardoyne FB.” On the 40th anniversary of his death, a memorial plaque and cross were mounted at the top of Ardoyne Road to Billy Hanna, founder member of the Pride Of Ardoyne. The word “murdered” is notable. Hanna was shot in an SAS ambush of a PIRA attempt to bomb the Ballysillan post office depot; it is alleged that the SAS snipers opened fire without warning and discharged 170 rounds (An Phoblacht). An alternative interpretation of the event might put the focus instead on Hanna being caught in the crossfire (BBC-NI) or mistaken for an IRA member (Sutton).

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Still The People Spoke

The first Dáil Éireann met in 1919 in the wake of a Sinn Féin sweep of the elections of 1918. Current leader Mary Lou McDonald addressed her deputies at a centenary commemoration, recounting the rise of the party: “They banished us, imprisoned us and bereaved us. But still the people spoke.” The mural above presents a montage of historical images, from the women of Wicklow (Barton) and Dublin (Mulcahy) being urged to exercise their new right to vote (also Arthur Griffith in East Cavan), to Bobby Sands and Owen Carron, to Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. (Cormac’s Fight Back was turned into a mural on the Springfield Road.)
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Republican Prisoners Memorial Wall

James Connolly was executed on May 12th, 1916. Both the (freshly painted) Connolly plaque shown above and the Martin Meehan mural on the adjacent wall paint the struggle of the republican prisoners and the Provisionals of the ‘Troubles’ as descendants of 1916’s Easter Rising. Several name-plaques have been added to (what is now officially titled) the ‘Republican Prisoners Memorial Wall’ compared to the number seen in September.
For close-ups of the door and sculptured rocks, see Father Time.
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Join Saoradh

This space on Ardoyne Avenue was used for “cultural” murals from 1997 to 2015, when Stair Na Gaeilge was replaced by Resistance. In its latest incarnation, Saoradh (web | tw – the organisation’s Facebook page is currently blocked) have made a small addition to the side-wall in the centre of the image above.
For the larger pieces, see Homes!!! and Lidl On Equality.
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Marrowbone Company, Belfast Brigade

The Marrowbone (or simply “the Bone”, perhaps from the Irish “Machaire Bothán”) is an area of north Belfast between Ardoyne and Cliftonville. Ardilea Close is home to four memorials to local republicans: on this wall, the plaque on the left is to “men and women from this and past generations who died from natural causes having dedicated their lives to the cause of Irish freedom” while the one on the right is to “those who showed courage in the face of adversity by giving aid, shelter and support in defence of the area.” Only one of the original walls mentioned the IRA (see Bone Memorial), as well as the 2014 addition of a Fianna memorial – Hark To The Tramp Of The Young Guards of Éireann. The new mural commemorating F company of the 3rd battalion – as well as the associated Cumann na mBan, Cumann na gCailíní and Fianna – can be added to these.
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