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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Beechmount Remembers

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.”

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The Next In Line Is Me

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.

For the plaque to the left, see The Death Of Sean McCartney. For the mural in the background to the far left, see Cry “Havoc”.

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Remember The Hunger Strike

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.

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For A Socialist Republic

“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)

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An Stailc Ocrais

On this today 40 years ago, Francis Hughes, the second of the 1981 hunger strikers, died after 59 days without food. The flag is flying over Groves Reilly Corner in CNR west Belfast.

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This Image Is Blessed

Faustina Kowalska was a Polish nun who, from age 19 onwards, claimed to have visions of a suffering Jesus, including one at age 26, of Jesus with red and white rays emanating from his heart and issuing instructions to have the vision painted – it appears here on the right. Kowalska died at age 33 in 1938, of tuberculosis, and was canonized in 2000 (WP). The “H Block Martyrs” pursued a vision of a United Ireland, and likewise died young, of starvation; this is the 40th anniversary of their deaths.

Both Kowalska placards are marked “This image is blessed. Please do not remove.” It is not clear if the hunger striker tarp on the left has also been anointed.

At Groves Reilly Corner.

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Comóradh 40 Stailc Ocrais

On Sunday March 22nd, 1981, forty years ago this week, Raymond McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara joined Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes on hunger strike in Long Kesh/HMP Maze. They would be joined by 19 more prisoners before the strike ended with ten of the 23 meeting their deaths. On March 31st, 1974, Michael Gaughan went on hunger strike in Parkhurst, along with four others, including Frank Stagg. Gaughan died in June as a result of forced feeding; Stagg would die on a later strike, in February 1976.

The board is on the site of the former Andersonstown RUC barracks.

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Our Nation As A Whole

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

For the other pieces shown in the wide shot, below, see The Proclamation | All Our Dead | Easter Week 1916 (and then England, The Never Failing Source Of All Our Political Evils and The Old IRA).

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X07823 X07821 Ardilea “They may hold our bodies in the most inhumane condition – But while our minds remain free our victory is assured.” Óglach Bobby Sands, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, died on the 5th of May 1981 after 66 days on Hunger Strike.

Pat Ward

The 39th Bundoran (RSF) hunger strike commemoration took place at the end of August, scaled-back due to the coronavirus pandemic (RSF). The poster above, on the electrical box on Northumberland Street, includes Pat Ward alongside the twelve “traditional” hunger strike deaths (for the first inclusion of Gaughan and Stagg, see Remember The Hunger Strikers from 1985) Ward, a Donegal fisherman and IRA volunteer, took part in four hunger strikes, lasting 148 days in total, including 45 in Portlaoise in 1975. He died in 1988. (RSF | Pensive Quill)

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