Patsy O’Hara was born in 1957 Bishop Street, Derry, and joined Na Fianna in 1970 and the local Sinn Féin cumann in 1971 and, in August was shot in the leg by British soldiers. In 1972 he joined the Republican Clubs and in 1975 the IRSP. He was imprisoned multiple times, the final time being in January 1979 for possession of a hand grenade (Bobby Sands Trust). He went on hunger strike 41 years ago tomorrow (March 22nd) and was the first of the three INLA hunger strikers to die in 1981. The long-standing mural in Bishop Street was repainted for the 40th anniversary of his death. (For the previous version, see Let The Fight Go On.)
“Óglach Patsy O’Hara, INLA Derry Brigade, Irish hunger striker, who died after 61 days on 21st May 1981, age 23. Last words ‘Let the fight go on’.”
“After we are gone, what will you say you were doing? Will you say you were with us in our struggle or where you conforming to very system that drove us to our deaths?”
Here are two IRSP pieces commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike. The first, above and immediately below, is from Ard Eoin/Ardoyne (Béal Feirste/Belfast) with colour (or at least, colour-ised) portraits of the ten who died on either side of an image from Keven Lynch’s funeral cortège. It is the same as the board seen on the lower Falls in For A Socialist Republic. At the bottom is a poster from Strabane calling people to gather in remembrance in Derry.
Kieran Doherty’s memorial stone (below) is recreated at the back of the mural of his funeral cortège. “I gcuimhne ar Vol. Kieran Doherty T.D. Briogáid Bhéal Feirste [Ógliagh na hÉireann], of 54 Commedagh Drive. Rugadh 16ú Deireadh Fómhair 1955, elected T.D. for Cavan/Monaghan 11th June 1981, a fuair bás 2ú Lúnasa 1981, after 73 days on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. ‘It is not those who can inflict the most, but those who endure the most, who will conquer in the end’.” (The Terence MacSwiney quote is not included on the painted stone.)
“Fuair siad bás ar son saoirse na hÉireann” [they died for Ireland’s freedom] Although it’s the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, this Lifford (Co. Donegal) board includes Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg who died in English prisons in the 1970s.
If you can explain the flag in the centre, please get in touch. The wide shot, below, includes a call to rally for 100% Redress, No Less.
For the 40th anniversary of the 1981 Hunger Strike, portraits of the deceased ten (plus Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan from the 1970s) were placed on the railings of the Ballymurphy memorial garden. There is a new (compared to 2006 and 2008) set of plaques, erected in 2017:
“A Letter To The 22: You have not gone away, you are in the hearts and on the lips of your people. The old speak of you with knowing tongue. The middle aged, as those who worked beside you. The young men and women with a passion not unlike your own. Your names can be heard on the wind taken from the mouths of men who tend their flocks on Slieve Gullion, Cnoc Phadraig, Glenshane. They echo in the small graveyards in Cork, Kerry, Galway, Mayo, Tyrone, Antrim, Derry and Armagh. They are heard among your people at the mass gate on Sunday in the crowd at the hurling game, around the hearth when the bottle is cracked and song is sung. Your image can be seen on the faces of happy smiling children for whose freedom you gave your all. You are in our prayers you have not gone away, you never will. Mise le meas Colm Mac Giolla Bhein 2006. This monument was erected by the Ballymurphy Ex POWs in memory of the 22 hunger strikers who died for the cause of Irish freedom. It was unveiled on the hundredth anniversary of Thomas Ash[e] who was the first republican to die on hunger strike in 1917. He died after five days while being force fed. Thomas Ash[e] an these 21 brave Irish men stood by their beliefs and refused to be criminalised. Fuair siad bás ar son shaoirse na hÉireann. I measc laochra na nGael go raibh siad.”
A new board has been mounted in AMCOMRI Street for the fortieth anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike, with photographs from the area in the background, including the Revolution mural at the bottom of Beechmount Avenue in 1996-1997.
“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small, no one is too old or too young to do something.”
Six weeks after the first four deaths, the 1981 hunger strike’s long summer of mourning resumed with the death of Joe McDonnell, who died on July 8th, 1981. The “H” (for “H Blocks”) is on the Falls Road, next to the D company IRA memorial garden.
The “Do not use” sign – from last year – is Saoaradh (web) reserving a wall in Thames St (on the Falls Road) that has never (to our knowledge) been used by anyone else. As the image above shows, the space is now being used – in part – by a hunger strike 40th anniversary board.
“Saoirse go deo.” INLA volunteer Kevin Lynch went on hunger strike 40 years ago yesterday, May 23rd, 1981. He would die 71 days later, on August 1st. His funeral is depicted above, part of a new IRSP/IRSM board commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes. The board is flanked by two other IRSP boards, one against the PSNI (“96% of Divis residents do not support the PSNI – defund, disarm, disband”) and one dedicated to founder Seamus Costello (“He was the only one who truly understood what James Connolly meant when he spoke of his vision of the freedom of the Irish people.” – Nora Connolly at Costello’s funeral)