Hello Future

Pat Sheehan had been on hunger strike for 55 days when the strike was ended on October 3rd, 1981. He became MLA for Belfast West in 2010. He was the main speaker at the 41st anniversary commemoration in Belfast this past Sunday (video). The boards shown here are in Pim Street, north Belfast, the former Andersonstown RUC station in west Belfast, lower Falls Road, west Belfast.

“Comóradh Náisiúnta in ómós na stailceoirí ocrais. Béal Feirste 21 Lúnasa, 2:00 i.n. Aoichainteoir: Pat Sheehan. Páirc Dunville a fhad le hUaigheannaí na Poblachta, Reilig Bhaile an Mhuileann. (Ag cruinniú ag 1:30 i.n., ag fágáil ar bhuile 2:00 i.n.”

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Saoirse Go Deo

Saturday will be the 51st anniversary of Michael Devine’s death, the last of the ten strikers to die in the 1981 strike. This mural was painted last year during lockdown for the 50th anniversary.

“Vol Mickey Devine, Derry Brigade, INLA. In memory of Michael Devine “Red Micky” H-Block martyr, died 20th August 1981 after 60 days without food. Remembered with pride by his family, friends and comrades. ‘They have served their British masters, the poor pathetic fools, they think that inhumanity and cruelty can break us, haven’t they learnt anything? It strengthens us, it drives us on for then more than ever we know that our cause is just’ – Micky Devine”

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On The Streets Of Derry

“This mural is dedicated to all those who tragically died on the streets of Derry during the hunger strike era. Suaimhneas Dé da nanamacha. 3rd October 2006.” The mural referred to is in fact the ‘crumbling cell’ mural (see M03350); the ‘Spirit Of Freedom’ mural was first painted in 2011 for the 30th anniversary (see X00999) – the 30th anniversary plaque remains, on the right of the mural. For the 40th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike “40” has replaced the “30” in the bottom border – see the final image.

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X10899 X10902 X10903 X10901 X10900 our revenge will be the laughter of our children bainfear ár ndíoltas amach leis an ghaire dár bpáistí

Cuimhníonn Doire

For many years there were portraits of the hunger strikers (either the 10 deceased from 1981 or the 12 from the 70s and 80s) along the long wall in Bishop St Without – see 2009, 2004, and 1998 (before that time the wall was divided into a number of panels for a variety of republican imagery – see 1984 and 1982) but in the portraits – which were on boards – soon started coming off and over the next decade the wall began to fade and become covered in graffiti (as can be seen in Street View). For the 40th anniversary, the deceased hunger strikers were restored to the wall, as shown in today’s post: “40th anniversary of the 1980-1981 hunger strikes. Rededication of mural, by the Bogside and Brandywell Monument Committee.”

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The Rising Of The Moon

The moon rises over Thompson’s feed on York Road while the sun sets over the New Lodge tower blocks, most of which have the portraits of two deceased hunger strikers from the 70s and 80s on them, including Francis Hughes on Teach Mhéabha. (See New Lodge Flats for a full list.)

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After We Are Gone

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?”

Bishop Street, Derry

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Remember The Hunger Strikers

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.

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Those Who Endure The Most

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.)

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Lifford Remembers The Hunger Strikers

“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.

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Their Blood Our Cause Has Sanctified

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.”

For the mural, with NHS board, see Pray For Us.

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