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”
Mise Éire (short for ‘Is mise Éire’ [I am Ireland]) is a short poem by Patrick Pearse in which Mother Ireland speaks of her glories and sufferings. The un-partitioned Ireland (though with the flags of the four provinces in the corners) is used here by Republican Sinn Féin (web) to call for unification of “the whole people of Ireland … Protestant, Catholic, and Dissenter” [Wolfe Tone, from his autobiography].
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.
“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.”
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?”
“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.
A Penal law of 1695 forbade the practice of Catholicism and “dissenter” forms of Protestantism –anything other than Anglicism, forcing people and priests to worship in secret. Although the precise date of the founding of the Ancient Order Of Hibernians is shrouded by the existence of various other Catholic fraternal and defensive organisations such as St Patrick’s Fraternal Society and the Ribbonmen – the AOH history page gives 1838 in Pennsylvania – the order traces its roots back to Penal times and in particular to the Defenders in 1784, which arose to protect Catholics from the (Protestant) Peep-O-Day Boys and in defiance of Penal laws forbidding Catholics to bear arms (WP). The Belfast division (58) of the AOH is in Clonard Street.
This tarp, above the office of Sinn Féin Poblachtach and the Happy House on the Falls Road, celebrates two previous generations of IRA leadership. Joe McKelvey was commander of the Belfast Brigade of the IRA in the War Of Independence but against the Treaty; he was executed in December, 1922, for occupying the Four Courts in June (WP). Jimmy Steele was a leader in the Belfast IRA from the 1920s to 1960s and the first editor of Republican News; he died shortly after the split (WP).
Photography was still in its infancy in 1850 and would not appear in newspapers until the 1880s (LoC). Instead, newspapers used illustrations to bring their stories to life. This board in Ard An Lao (Ardoyne/Bone) – “An Gorta Mór [The Great Hunger] 1845-1851 – The Great Irish Famine” – combines three of them to serve as a background for other images and information.
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.”
In April, the Workers’ Party (web | web | tw | Fb | Fb) suffered a leadership challenge and a split in which its sole elected representative – Ted Tynan on Cork county council – left the party (statement). This is only the latest in a long line of splits, going back to the formation of the modern Workers’ Party, from a split in Sinn Féin in 1970 (WP).
“National Commemoration Committee – erected in memory of all those comrades who dedicated their lives for the establishment of a democratic, secular, socialist republic. ‘I have given whatever I had to give for the party, the people of Ireland, and for a better world, but others have given more, much more. Comrades have given their lives’ – Tomás Mac Giolla TD. ‘For the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter.'”