This Struggle

A pair of hands joined in prayer in the Beechmount memorial garden: “in memory of those innocent people from this area who have died in this struggle for Irish freedom”.
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Bloomfield House

The 100th anniversary plaque and board shown in today’s post are on the spot of Bloomfield House, where guns from Clyde Valley were held for the East Belfast battalion of the Ulster Volunteers in 1914.
See also: John Henry Patterson’s involvement in Operation Lion.
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text: X04054 X04055 X04056 orangefield house gunrunners for god and ulster “When the 3rd Home Rule bill was passed by parliament in 1912, Ulster Unionists under the leadership of Edward Carson and James Craig realised that armed resistance was the only resort left to them to remain British. The Ulster Volunteer Force was formed in January 1913 and comprised of 100,000 men. East Belfast Regiment was the largest in the UVF with over 10,000 men divided into 6 Battalions: 1st Ballynafeigh & Newtownbreda, 2nd Willowfield, 3rd Mountpottinger, 4th Victoria, 5th Avoniel, 6th Strandtown & Knock. Major Fred Crawford was tasked with procuring weapons and ammunition. On 24/25th April 1914 he did just this when he landed 25,000 rifles and 3,000,000 rounds of ammunition from Clyde Valley at Larne and Donaghadee in Operation Lion. These munitions were taken all over the country, and a consignment was sent to East Belfast UVF. Part of this consignment was concealed in the grounds of Bloomfield House, which stood on this location.”

Unsung Heroes

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“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).
Previous work from Hugh Clawson: The Lark And The Bin Lid | Conway Mill
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The Ten Foot Pikers

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The first few pages of Commandant Michael Sheer’s testimony to the Bureau of Military History describe the activities of the elite squad called the “Ten Foot Pikers”, including how postal officer Dan McGandy stole election ballots sent by mail during the general election of 1918. As described in the plaque above, McGandy went missing in January 1919 and was found in the Foyle six weeks later. This article suggests that he fell in after a struggle with British soldiers who had intercepted him while stealing grenades; this Derry Now article suggests he was thrown in by the soldiers, who then arranged his things to make it appear a suicide.
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text: X03801 strabane old road óglach oglagh IRA IRB to die locally on active service war of independence

Show Me The Man

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The Martin Meehan tarp in Ardoyne Avenue has been removed and the wall whitewashed. At the moment, all there is to be seen is the plaque shown above – Show Me The Man, Martin Meehan 1945 – 2007 – and a Cogús board – “End strip searching in Maghaberry now”.
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text: X03867 X03866 Ardoyne Ave erected by 32 county sovereignty movement and republican network for unity claddagh ring

That The Dawning Years Might Make You Fearless

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This memorial, which includes two stones, a glassed-in set of portraits of Derry Brigade members (second image), tricoloured railing and flag, commemorates the death of IRA volunteer Seamus Bradley. The stone on the right says that he was killed on active service, but the central headstone (third image) tells the story of an unarmed Bradley trying to distract the attention of British Army soldiers attacking people at the Creggan shops. To the right of the memorial is an extensive board of photographs and information relating to the treatment Bradley received, similar to the collection in front of the Operation Motorman mural in Rossville Street.
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text: X03654 X03656 X03657 X03655 bishops field

On the 4th of July 1972 the British government met with army intelligence and army personnel, between them they created a blue print which was first called operation carcan to later be changed to operation motorman. In this secret meeting that place on the 4th of July, the army were to take 20,000 troops from the UN forces, and the government gave orders on a shoot to kill policy and confirmed that no soldier would be held accountable for their actions on that day. Over 1,500 of these soldiers and 300 centurion tanks were sent to free Derry to tear down the barricades and cause havoc, but the provisional IRA intercepted their blue print and decided to step down to protect the innocent people of Northern Ireland. It was 4:10am, there were 25 – 30 people at the Creggan shops when there was gunfire heard, Vol. Seamus Bradley unarmed drew attention to himself to save others. He ran down Bishop field where a soldier was to get out of a saracen, take aim in a kneeling position and fire two shots hitting him in the back, Vol. Seamus Bradley fell. Then the saracen drove down the field to where he lay, they put him in the saracen and took him away to St. Peter’s school, no one knew what happened after that. All they know is that he was interrogated, the pictures tell their own story. He was shot again three more times at close range, he was tortured and beaten and left to bleed to death at the hands of the British army. Afterwards it was confirmed by a doctor that none of Seamus Bradley’s injuries have been life threatening and had he received medical aid he would have lived.
This memorial is to commemorate Vol. Seamus Bradley just yards from where he fell. Vol. Seamus Bradley on the 2nd Battalion of B company Oglaigh Na H-Eireann, even though he was shot five times and beaten they could not make him betray his comrades. I lived and loved and laboured with a patriot’s heart and will that the dawning years might make you fearless and unfettered still. When a future age shall find thee free men stand by thy side Mother Ireland o” remember me. They may kill our bodies and take our blood but they will never break our spirits. killed on active service beirigi bua

‘A’ Batt

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The image above is of a small (4′ x 3′) plaque in the John McMichael memorial garden in City Way, off Sandy Row. It reproduces a mural (now gone) from nearby Rowland Way, which was itself a repaint of an earlier (1990s) mural though updated to note the “distinguished service” of Samuel Curry (both murals are shown below, from the Peter Moloney Collection). The same thirteen names also appear on the “roll of honour” plaque in the garden, shown last.
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text: X03523 M02408 M01183 X03524 city way rowland way Jim kenna frankie smyth ernie dowds sammy hunt steven audley william kingsberry harry black joe bratty raymie elder tommy morgan william hamilton

Mussen Cortège

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Richard Mussen joined the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (27th foot) at the age of 15. At the outbreak of the Zulu wars he volunteered for active service and was transferred to the Second Battalion The South Wales Borderers (24th foot). At the outbreak of the Great War he joined the 9th Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles and with him went his 4 sons and 2 sons-in-law. His son Richard (junior) was killed at the Somme on Thursday 21st March, 1918 and is remembered at Pozleres Memorial. Richard Mussen was buried from 22 Dundee Street [which was just above Agnes Street] on 29/12/1936 and was accorded full Military Honours. He was laid to rest in Belfast City Cemetery. (From the plaque shown in image #3, below.)

Here is a short NVTv documentary about Mussen, including (at 12m25s) the image on which the mural shown here is based. The mural was done with spray paint by artist Sam Bates. It was unveiled on June 24th, 2011.

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text: X03450 X03449 beresford st

Apostles Of Freedom

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The plaque above is a new one outside the Andersonstown Social Club, mounted for the centenary of the Easter Rising: 1916-2016 – We serve neither king nor kaiser but Ireland. This plaque was erected to the memory of the men and women who give their lives in the fight for Irish freedom. “Apostles of freedom are ever idolised when dead but crucified when alive” – James Connolly (These are the opening lives of ‘The Men We Honour‘ 1898)
The plaque below is a previously existing one to volunteers from the First Battalion of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade and various other republicans and “also in memory of the civilians who died at the hands of the UDR, RUC, and loyalist extremists”.
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text: X03280 X03279 south link an chéad chathlán de bhriogáid bhéal feirste óglaigh na héireann i ndíl chuimhne ar henderson mcdermott forsythe jordan finucan hall burke fennell rooney fox kane lennon o’callaghan mccartan sands mcdonnell doherty turley magill mckernan mcardle farrell mccracken macbrádaigh twomey o’rawe mcdonagh ryan black roe mcairt dolan crawford mcauley dempsey best drumm keenan

Martha Campbell

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The plaque above was unveiled on the 40th anniversary of the death of Martha Campbell, on May 14th, 2012. Campbell was the last person to die in the protracted gunfire that followed the bombing of Kelly’s Bar in Ballymurphy on the 13th. UVF gunmen are attributed the killing by McKittrick (186), but no one has officially taken responsibility for the death (WP). A tribute site exists on-line, which maintains that the bullet came from Henry Taggart rather than Springmartin.
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