An Attitude Of Revolt

The Tommy Roberts mural at the top of Westland Street, Derry, has been expanded, with a new central image – which now includes a portrait of Stevie Mallon alongside Roberts, against a background of Free Derry Corner – and three additional plaques.

Both quotes (“Life springs from death, and from the graves of dead patriot men and women spring living nations.” and “As long as Ireland is unfree the only honourable attitude for Irishmen and Irishwomen is an attitude of revolt.” are from Patrick Pearse. The first quote was also used on a Gibraltar 3 mural in Belfast and an INLA mural in Strabane in 1990; the latter was used in a Belfast in the 1980s.

“In proud and loving memory of Tommy Roberts, former IRA volunteer, former POW blanketman, died 8th June 2017 aged 78. His courage and dedication will never be forgotten. As long as Ireland is unfree the only honourable attitude for Irishmen and Irishwomen is an attitude of revolt.”

“In proud and loving memory of Stevie Mellon, former IRA volunteer, former internee, former GAA referee, died 1st August 2018, aged 65 years. His courage and dedication will never be forgotten. Lay him away on the hillside with the brave and the bold.”

“In proud and loving memory of Veronica Taylor, a proud socialist republican. Born11th June 1943, died 16th December 2019, aged 76 years. Her tireless dedication to the republican struggle will never be forgotten. “The only people worthy of freedom are those who are prepared to go out and fight for it every day and die if necessary.””

“In proud and loving memory of Ruairí (Roddy) Carlin, former IRA volunteer, former POW, died 23rd March 2021. A brave son of Ireland who fought for his country against continued British oppression and injustice, an uncompromised republican committed to the reunification of Ireland.”

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Executed

On October 18th, 1922, the third Dáil/second Provisional Government Of Southern Ireland approved – in the absence of anti-Treaty members – a bill entitled the “Army Emergency Powers Resolution” which introduced martial law, including martial courts with the death penalty for anyone found in possession of an illegal firearm – “illegal” meaning not sanctioned by the nascent pro-Treaty Free State. Under these powers, seven IRA volunteers were executed on November 17th and 19th, followed on the 24th by Erskine Childers (a member of the team that negotiated the Treaty but subsequently against it). In response, the IRA declared that TDs who had voted for the bill were fair game, and on December 7th Seán Hales of Cork was shot and killed. In reprisal, the government ordered the execution of four more volunteers, one from each province: Liam Mellows, Joe McKelvey, Dick Barnett, Rory O’Connor. The four had been arrested five months earlier, on June 30th, 1922 at the start of the Civil War, after surrendering the Four Courts. By the end of the war, 81 executions had taken place. (An Phoblacht | Irish Times | The Irish Story | WP | WP)

For the left-hand side of the wall, on the shipyard clearings and the McMahon murders, see Belfast Butchery.

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The Joy Of Our Hearts

The Newington tribute to Bobby Sands and the other deceased hunger strikers of the 1970s and 80s (see previously: Mol An Óige Agus Tiocfaidh Sí) has been augmented with four plaques to republicans from the area who died in the Troubles: (l-r) Martin McDonagh, Rosemary Bleakley, Colm Mulgrew, and Sean ‘Maxi’ McIvenna.

Unbeknowst to her parents (Lost Lives), Bleakley had joined Cumann Na mBan at 18 and was four days short of her nineteenth birthday when she and McDonagh were killed in a premature bomb explosion in the North Street arcade (Victor Patterson image of the blast), along with civilians Ian Gallagher and Mary Dornan (Sutton); 20 others were injured (Fortnight). Bleakley was not buried in the republican plot (in Milltown) but coincidentally in the plot adjacent to Dornan (BBC).

Bleakley was portrayed in the old New Lodge Volunteers mural.

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We Are Albion Star

Albion Star (Fb | tw) is a soccer club founded in 2003. It fields youth teams for players ages 5 to 17.

The plaque in the top right corner is to Phil McDonnell of the OIRA and INLA, who died in 2017; Anthony MacIntyre has a profile.

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Jock Davison

Gerard ‘Jock’ Davison (here spelled “Gerarrd ‘Jock’ Davidson, 3rd Batt”) was an IRA volunteer who became a community worker in the Markets after the peace. He was shot dead in 2015 (BBC), probably by republicans, and the murder case is still open (Bel Tel | Irish Examiner). It drew publicity in 2021 because a date for the inquest into his alleged killer’s death (which occurred three months later, possibly at the hands of IRA members still holding weapons) has been set (Irish News), the arrest in Spain of a criminal wanted for questioning in connection with the gun used (Bel Tel), and because it was revealed that the PSNI warned him his life might be in danger a month before he was shot (Irish News).

This graffiti tribute is in Carrick Hill.

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Like The Eternal Flame

“Like the eternal flame your memory will never die.” “Unbowed, unbroken – this garden is dedicated to all our fallen dead from Ardoyne, Bone, and Ligoniel who lost their lives as a direct result of the conflict. We also honour all those people who played an active part in our struggle for Irish freedom. ‘It is not those who inflict the most, but those that endure the most, that shall prevail’ [Terence McSwiney]”. The central plaque shows the pediment and statues on “ard-oifig an phoist” (the GPO in Dublin, 1916) and the Maid Of Erin harp (of 1798). The celtic cross was previously in the memorial garden at the corner of Berwick Road – see Freedom Hath Arisen.

In the distance of the final image is the Sean Mac Diarmada mural.

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Unrepentant Republicans

These two new boards along the Falls Road were mounted by Belfast RNU (tw), commemorating the actions of Billy McKee, Alec Murphy, and Brendan Hughes in 1969 at the onset of the Troubles, and of Máire Drumm and “the brave women of Belfast who stood up against the might of the British” in bringing the Falls Curfew to an end. (This board was previously a mural on Divis Street.)

McKee and Hughes are profiled in a D Company mural in the number one spot of the International Wall. Murphy died in 2019 “unrepentant” of his republicanism (which was prompted by the Falls Curfew) and in particular his conviction along with Harry Maguire for the Corporal Killings (Irish News | BelTel). For a personal obituary, see The Pensive Quill.

For the plaque and board to the left of the wide shot below, see The Falls Road Massacre.

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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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The Desire For Freedom

The Falls Commemoration Committee (Fb) organises an annual commemoration for IRA D company volunteers from Divis and the lower Falls (as well as special events for the fiftieth anniversary of the Falls Curfew in 2020). The fourteen local volunteers are portrayed in a group above St Peter’s. They include the five volunteers who died in 1972 are were depicted in a mural previously at this spot.

“‘They won’t break me because the desire for [freedom and the] freedom of the Irish people is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then that we will see the rising of the moon’ – Bobby Sands [March 17th, 1981]” Originally in Irish: “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 tchífidh muid éirí na gealaí.”

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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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