In 2019, images of Bobby Sands before his (second and final) arrest and imprisonment were rediscovered in the collection of French photographer Gérard Harlay. Sands was serving as a flag-bearer in an August 1976 march from the Busy Bee to Dunville Park to protest the withdrawal of political status. (For some of Harlay’s images, see Bobby Sands Trust.) This new mural in his home area of Twinbrook copies one of the images (though presents him as carrying a Tricolour rather than a harp) along with protesters protesting for “Public transport for Twinbrook now” and “Social housing for Twinbrook now”.
Mairéad Farrell (on the right of the image above) was arrested for planting a bomb at a hotel in Dunmurry in April 1976, one month after Special Category Status for republican prisoners had been revoked. Kieran Nugent (on the left) began the “blanket” protest in September that year and Farrell was the first person to join the protest, when she arrived in Armagh women’s prison to begin her fourteen year sentence. She later took up a dirty protest and joined the 1980 hunger strike. She stood for election in 1981 (in Cork), but, unlike “Óglach Bobby Sands, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone”, was not successful. (WP)
“I am oppressed as a woman and I am oppressed as an Irish person. Everyone in this country is oppressed and yet we can only end our oppression as women if we end the oppression of our nation as a whole.” Máiread [sic] Farrell
“End British internment: Strip searching, controlled movement, isolation.” This Saoradh/éistigí/IRPWA board in Central Drive, Creggan, Derry, uses the words of Bobby Sands to put current political prisoners in parallel with the blanket protest and hunger strikes. The quote is an English translation from the final day of Sands’s hunger strike diary, March 17th: Mura bhfuil siad in inmhe an fonn saoirse a scriosadh, ní bheadh siad in inmhe tú féin a bhriseadh. Ní bhrisfidh siad mé mar tá an fonn saoirse, agus saoirse mhuintir na hEireann, i mo chroí. Tiocfaidh lá éigin nuair a bheidh an fonn saoirse seo le taispeáint ag daoine go léir na hEireann. Ansin chífidh muid éirí na gealaí.” = “If they aren’t able to destroy to the desire for freedom, they won’t break you. They won’t break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people, is is my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we’ll see the rising of the moon.”
“Friends and comrades” – IRA volunteers Brendan Hughes (“The Dark”) and Bobby Sands were leaders of the 1980 and 1981 hunger strikes, respectively. Hughes survived when the first strike was called off after 53 days; Sands died in the ’81 strike after 66 days of fasting. “IRPWA” is the Irish Republican Prisoners’ Welfare Association (Fb | tw); Saoradh (web | tw) is a hard-line left-wing republican party.
The mural to the left shows Palestinian double-amputee Saber Al-Ashkar, protesting as part of the Great March Of Return.
Robert Ballagh’s 1916 Proclamation was first painted as a mural by Mo Chara Kelly and Risteard Ó Mhurchú in 1991 for the 75th anniversary of the Easter Rising (see Cáisc 1916 which also contains the Ballagh piece). That version stood for ten years on the Whiterock Road. It has reproduced again in Ard An Lao above the hunger strikers, after the removal of several plaques (see All Our Dead). “With special thanks to Hugo Óg Wilkinson”.
New political party Saoradh (Fb | Tw) is advocating a boycott of the upcoming (March 2nd) Stormont election, claiming that Stormont espouses “the co-dependent ideologies of imperialism, sectarianism and capitalism”. The tarp shown above lists various problems and scandals (“Nepostism, fraud, corruption, phantom community groups, NAMA, sectarianism, jobs for the boys, Red Sky, RHI scandal”) and evokes the spirit of 1981 hunger striker Bobby Sands: “Everyone Republican or otherwise has their Part to Play.” Also visible are a board celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising (see versions in Andersonstown
“In memory of the all the unsung heroes off [sic] this area who’s [sic] hardship, sacrifice and support during this struggle for Irish freedom will never be forgotten by the Belfast Brigade óglaigh na h-éireann.” The plaque depicts the work of print-makers (“Smash H-Block Armagh”), marchers carrying portraits of hunger strikers (“Mid Falls supports the women of Armagh”), bin-lid rattlers, and muralists (the mural shown is Free Ireland, which was at the bottom of Beechmount Avenue).
New (2015-04-04) board on Ardoyne Road showing a scene from Grafton Street in the Battle Of Dublin in the civil war (1922) (irishhistory.blogspot.com), with in-sets featuring PIRA volunteers on patrol in 1987 (belfasttelegraph), and a home-made rocket-launcher used in a 2014 attack on police (see, e.g. irishmirror.ie). “There can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed leaving all of the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically.” Bobby Sands
IRA volunteer Francis Liggett was shot by the British Army in January 1973 as he attempted to rob the Royal. One of the images of Gerry Adams in paramilitary beret comes from Liggett’s funeral. Paddy Brady was a Sinn Féin activist shot in 1984 at his work by the UFF (Sutton). Both were from the St James’s area of west Belfast. Their portraits are on either side of Éire personified. The verses are from Bobby Sands’s poem Weeping Winds.
“Praise youth and it will respond – the laughter of our children – the joy of our hearts.” A young Bobby Sands is shown in the front right, part of the Stella Maris soccer squad for 1967; he would later “respond” by becoming an IRA volunteer and hunger striker.
The plaque to the hunger strikers was originally on the left of the previous ‘1798’ mural, and the plaque to the deceased from the “greater Newington area” was embedded in it – see M03672.