As I Roved Out

It’s impossible to travel for any distance in Belfast without using or crossing a street employing as a name “king” or “queen”, “Victoria” or “Albert”, “Cromwell” or “Donegall”, or a host of other colonial lords and ladies. Lasair Dhearg (web | tw) last week undertook a campaign to rename 14 streets and Queen’s University after republican rather than colonial notables. As these images show, the campaign did not meet with the same level of support that has lately seen figures related to slavery removed from public spaces in the US and England. Carlisle Circus was briefly McCracken Circus, Donegall Square North was briefly Kieran Doherty Street, May Street Joe McDonnell Street, and Donegall Square South Bobby Sands Street. (Here is a complete list of street names changed.)

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Keep On Praying

“Ar an 9ú Iúil 1972 maraíodh Margaret Gargan 13 bliana d’aois, David McCafferty 15 d’aois, John Dougal 16 d’aois, Paddy Butler fear pósta le 6 clainne aige agus sagairt áitiúil an tAthair Noel Fitzpatrick, scaoilt ag Arm na Breataine. B’as Clós Adhmaid Corry’s sa cheantar Springhill/Westrock a bhí na saighdiúrí ag feidhmiú.” “‘And I’ll keep on praying for Ireland/The way I pray for you’ – from the poem “The Springhill Massacre” by Martin Dudley”. The new plaque was launched on July 9th, 2019 by Dudley and Brian Pettigrew, both of whom were wounded in the attack. Here is a gallery of images from the launch from Relatives For Justice.

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Our Heroes Past And Present

The heroes of the past are the soldiers of WWI and WWII (commemorated by the poppies growing in ACT Initiative‘s Shankill Road Community Garden, above, and in the 75th anniversary VE Day posters in Madrid Street, east Belfast, below); the present-day heroes are the doctors, nurses, and staff of the NHS, symbolised by the rainbow in both images.

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You Know Full Well As I Do The Value Of Sisters’ Affections

Students Coláiste Feirste, from Bechmount, west Belfast (tw), and Ashfield Girls’ High School, from Sydenham, east Belfast (tw) were involved in the exhibition Idir Dhá Aigne in Cultúrlann in 2014 and the two schools again combined their artistic talents to produce these five collages of inspirational women: Katie Taylor and Noelle Ryan (by students from Coláiste Feirste), and the Brontë sisters, Ellen Degeneres, and Rosa Parks (by students from Ashfield Girls’).

With sponsorship from the Northern Ireland Executive and Féile An Phobail. The mural is on the shoulder of the “peace” line, where North Howard Street meets Cupar Way, next to This World Isn’t Worth Your Soul and above A Dialogue On The Nature Of Art.

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Build Homes Now

The on-going mural campaign to build more public and affordable housing in Belfast reaches the PUL side of the “peace” line. The old “Lurkers” writing can be seen above.

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You Cannot Put A Knee Upon The Neck Of An Idea

“Please, I can’t breathe. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. They’re going to kill me.” These were among the last words of George Floyd, killed on May 25th after Minneapolis PD officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. The killing has drawn universal condemnation. All four officer were fired immediately and Chauvin was soon charged with third-degree murder, (to which second-degree murder was later added.) The other three officers, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.

“Black lives matter.” “Fight racism.” Every day since the killing protests have taken place in cities all across the United States and the world demonstrating against police brutality and racism (here is a collection of images from Saturday June 6th, 2020) Murals painted around the world, including the one above on the so-called “International Wall” on Divis Street (here is a Guardian gallery of George Floyd murals which describes the incomplete Belfast mural in rapturous terms).

As the in-progress shots show (below), Chauvin was originally painted with sunglasses on his head but these have been replaced by a MAGA cap. Two members of the Ku Klux Klan appear in the top right. Three officers with shaved heads and Minneapolis PD (“City of lakes”) badges are shown on the left in the poses of the three monkeys Mizaru, Kikazaru, and Iwazaru who hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

The title of today’s post is derived from a line in Seán O’Casey’s The Story Of Thomas Ashe (1917, under the name “Seán Ó Cathasaigh”; also later published as The Sacrifice Of Thomas Ashe): “You cannot put a rope around the neck of an idea; you cannot put an idea up against a barrack-square wall and riddle it with bullets; you cannot confine it in the strongest prison cell that your slaves could ever build.” Sometimes erroneously attributed to Bobby Sands, as in this 1981 mural.

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 divis street marty lyons mickey doherty sponsored by Féile an Phobail Fáilte Feirste

Thank You, Postmen

“We support all essential workers.” The residents of John Street (behind Morning Star House) have made a sign by hand to express their “míle buíochas” for essential workers of many types: “Tescos workers, council workers, delivery drivers, security officers, NHS, taxi drivers, care home workers, community workers, postmen.”

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Institutional Support

“Cumann na Méirleach Poblachtach Éireannach – The Felons Club support our NHS & all key workers.” This banner in support of the NHS is outside the club in Andersonstown.

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Victory To The Workers


“Victory to the workers. Victory to the NHS.” Republican graffiti from Lasair Dhearg (tw) on the wall of the RVH,
across the street from the NHS Blue post box. (And, in a different colour, “CIRA thanks NHS.”)

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NHS Blue

Letter-boxes in nationalist west Belfast have sometimes been painted green (e.g. 2016), though blue and not green is the official colour of Ireland. The box shown above, across from the Royal Victoria Hospital, is blue not for Ireland but in support of NHS workers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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