Portadown True Blues

This time last year, Portadown True Blues flute band (Fb) was preparing for a trip to Toronto, Canada, for an international celebration of the Twelfth (News Letter) but it was cancelled on account of the pandemic. This blue board was an update of their long-standing purple mural in Edgarstown next to the Somme mural, also featured below (and previously in In Answer To The Echo Of Alarm.

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How Is Freedom Measured?

The slogan “How is freedom measured? By the effort which it costs to retain!” dates back to WWI and, in the Irish context, to the Home Rule era. It looked as though Britain was going to give Ireland – as a whole – some measure of self-governance (whether while remaining in the UK (“constitutional Home Rule”) or separating from it (“revolutionary Home Rule” or “Fenianism”). In response, it seemed to some that fighting for Britain in the war might secure the status quo. Perhaps additionally or alternatively, it indicated the willingness of unionists to fight. Great effort is the measure of freedom greatly prized – “loyalist Rathcoole will NEVER accept a border in the Irish Sea.” The placards are a product of United Unionists Of Ulster (News Letter). For a mural rendition of the WWI postcard, see previously: How Is Freedom Measured?

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A Heart That Will Forgive

“In Deo speramus”. “Edgarstown Remembers” “our forty-two fallen sons who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their tomorrow for our today in the Great War 1914-1918.” “Dear Lord, I am just a soldier, a protector of our land/A servant called to battle when my country takes a stand./I pray for strength and courage and a heart that will forgive/For peace and understanding in a world for all to live./My family’s prayers are with me, no matter where I roam./Please listen when I’m lonely and return me safely home – Unknown”

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Milltown Young Volunteers

This is a vintage board in Milltown (south Belvoir), carved and painted with the YCV/UVF emblems but with “MYV” instead of “YCV”. The band’s last on-line presence seems to be from a decade ago, playing in Rathcoole.

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The Light At The End Of The Tunnel

Claire Curran of Survivors Of Suicide (Fb) in Tamar Street, east Belfast, reports that there has been in increase in people reaching out to the organisation during the pandemic (NewsLetter). This Blaze FX (Fb) mural is at Connswater.

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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

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X07823 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.

The Glorious Dead

Four of the 700 NHS staff in the UK to die of Covid during the pandemic have come Northern Ireland, the most recent being dementia specialist Alan Henry in Antrim hospital (Express | BelTel | iTV). In the south, Defence Forces have been deployed to three nursing homes while 6,400 health workers are off sick (Irish Times). The mural above shows a masked nurse and doctor among a field of poppies. For the black-and-white boards above, see Connswater Commemorates.

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X07831 ACT Initiative East Belfast Connswater Community & Leisure

The Old IRA

Cúchulainn stands dying; the raven on his shoulder will signal his death. “This memorial is dedicated to all the brave and gallant men and women of the Old IRA (Óglaigh na hÉireann) and Cumann na mBán who fought in all of the campaigns from the 1920s War of Independence onwards.”

The Irish tricolour with crossed rifles was the flag of the Irish Volunteers (Óglaigh na hÉireann), the splits in which gave rise all the subsequent IRAs.

For a roll of honour 1916-1966, including some profiles, see Treason Felony.

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It’s OK To Talk

October 10th is WHO World Mental Health Day. To mark the occasion and respond to the continued high rates of suicide in west Belfast (Assembly Research), emic (web | tw | ig) and local youth painted an “OK” gesture on the side of the Alternatives (web) offices in Agnes Street, which also includes the numbers for Lifeline and Samaritans. In-progress images of the mural being painted by can be seen at AlternativesRJ. In the US, the “OK” hand gesture has recently become associated with the ‘white power’ movement (WP).

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The Past Comes Back

The “Ulster’s Finest” mural in Monkstown was remarkable for its depiction of two female volunteers, carrying Uzis, the only depiction of female loyalist volunteers (see Rolston ‘Women on the walls’ in Crime Media Culture 14.3, 2018, p. 373). It was plastered over in 1996 because the gable is next to Hollybank primary. Some of the pebbledash wore away in January/February to reveal the mural – still in good condition – beneath (Vintage_UVF).

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