Category Archives: IRISH REPUBLICAN HISTORY

PAPERS ON IRISH ROLE IN SPANISH CIVIL WAR UNVEILED

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THE leader of the Irish who fought against facisim in Spain sent 25 men home fearing more loss of life, new records from Russia have revealed.  

Frank Ryan (pictured above), (along with John Robinson) from Knocklong, Co Limerick, was a republican who played an important role within the International Brigades which confronted General Francisco Franco during the Spanish Civil War from 1936.  Comintern papers from Moscow have given a revaling insight into the role of 230 Irish men who sided with the communists in Spain. Almost a third of the volunteers died and researcher Dr Emmet O’Connor from the University of Ulster said Ryan showed courage and leadership in battle. “It is to his credit that he managed to get about 25 men sent home, and his motivation was based on the very high losses among volunteers he himself had brought to Spain in December 1936.” Ryan was wounded during the Battle of Jarama near Madrid in February 1937. Dr O’Conner said: “first, to help rebuild the British battalion decimated after the Battle of Brunete (July 1937) and, second, on his own intiative, to get as many Irishmen as possible repatriated if he felt that they had done enough.”He said he envisaged a propaganda tour of America.”It speaks volumes for his courage and decency that he dropped all such plans when the Repubican front collapsed in Aragon in early March 1938. He was captured on March 31 1938.”

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An enormours increase in knowledge about the Irish in Spain followed the release in 1991 of the files of the brigades held in a Moscow archive. The Communist International (Comintern) library has about 60,000,000 pages of documents, of which 4,000 relate to Ireland. “The size and global scope of this material created a unique opportunity to study an international movement, and was itself a factor in the promotion of transnational history, which is now at the cutting edge of historiography.” Another Limerick man was mentioned in the documents. “Emmet Ryan from The Desmond Hotel in Upper Catherine Street in Limerick city, was the most intriguing: middle-class, a gifted linguist, no political affiliation. “He had a serious drink problem [not unusual in the British battalion because wine was cheap and part of the rations] but he was a constant critic of the British battalion leadership and was executed in circumstances which still remain unclear during the early stages of the Battle of the Ebro, that is in the first days of August 1938.”

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Ryan_(Irish_republican)

The International Brigades, supported by Russia, were part of an improvised army that had to contend with shortages and crises from the outset. Ultimately the Republic was defeated and Franco marched into Madrid in March 1939. The contingent of 230 Irishmen in the brigades represented 29 counties, particularly Dublin and Belfast but strong contingents from Co Derry, Waterford and Cork. One man, Paddy Byrne from off Dame Street in Dublin, jumped ship in Barcelona in order to join up. Many had been and were still members of the IRA. Dr O’Connor said the papers made clear that socialist republicanism in the 1930s was largely promoted by international communism. “It broke down mainly because of the contradiction in communist international strategy, which sought to push republicans to the left, on the one hand, and have the Communist Party of Ireland displace the republican movement on the other.” The records have gone on display at Queen’s University Belfast.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, for the origional story.

CATHOLIC CHURCH BUILT WITH THE HELP OF PROTESTANT WORSHIPPERS CELEBRATES 200 YEARS

Built with the help of Protestant worshippers, St Patrick’s Catholic Church in Belfast has stood witness to 200 years of the city’s turbulent history. John Monaghan reports on plans for its bicentenary celebrations.

A HISTORIC Belfast city centre church has revealed plans to celebrate a very special anniversary.

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A church was first built on the site of St Patrick’s on Donegall Street in 1815 to accomnodate an influx of Catholic workers into the city. And, as the population continued to grow, a new building was constructed and consecrated in 1877. The second oldest Catholic church in Belfast, plans to mark the bicentenary of St Patrick’s include a Mass to be celebrated by Down and Connor Bishop Noel Treanor, a dinner dance in the Titanic Suite, and a pilgrimage to Rome. Historian and author Eamon Phoenix is also due to give a talk about the parish at Belfast City Hall on March 9, while a lecture by Anne Stewart from the Ulster Museum on April 20 will discuss the life and works of painter Sir John Lavery, who was baptised in St Patrick’s. Sir John was the creator of the famous ‘Lakes of Madonna’ typtich painting which is displayed in the beautiful interior.

‘In 1941 the parish suffered enormous losses as a result of the Nazi bombings. Then in the 1970s there were events such as the McGurk’s Bar bombing and the Shankill butchers were operating. There has been a lot of suffering for the parishioners – Fr Michael Sheehan.

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 Parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan, who will talk about the history of the parish on the religious satellite channel EWTN next month, said the foundations of the church had “stood throughout some of the main points in Irish history”. “The first parish records we hold date back as far as 1798, (The year of the United Irishmen) before the church was even built, and contain baptisms and weddings which probably took place in St Mary’s in Chapel Lane,” he said. “In 1941 the parish suffered enormous losses as a resuslt of the Nazi bombings. Then in the 1970s there were events such as the McGurk’s Bar bombing and the Shankill Butchers were operating. There has been a lot of suffering for the parishioners.” In recent years the church found its3lf at the centre of a parading dispute, after tensions in the area were raised by sectarian music played outside its doors by a loyalist band during a July 12 march.

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 But with around a quarter of the funds raised for the original building by the Presbyterian community, Fr Sheehan said that he hoped to present gifts to other churches to recoginise the cooperation between various congregations which led to the parish’s birth. “The bicentenary provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge the generosity of our Christian brothers and sisters who helped us build the church,” he said. “We would also appeal to anyone with old photos of the parish to donate to our collection which we are preparing”. Built in the Romanesque style of different coloured sandstone, another distinctive feature of the church is the addition of a columbarium for the interment of ashes. However, restoration work requried to the building – at a total cost of £1.3 million – has been hampered by delays in funding from outside agencies. “We were expecting around £300,000 from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, however they have stalled any decision on funding for the past year.

‘The bicentenary provides us with the opportunity to acknowledge the generosity of our Christian brothers and sisters who helped us build the church – Fr Michael Sheehan.

 

And the Heritage Lottery Fund had approved over £200,000 but won’t release their funds until we get the sufficient money elsewhere to finish the work,” the parish parish priest said. 10441926_295982950578831_3116301160801281417_nFinances have also prevented the parish from fully digitising its invaluable archive of records from 1798 to the 1940s, after Fr Sheehan was quoted a figure of £98,000 to complete that task. “We stopped allowing people to view the archives themselves as some people were ripping out pages from these old documents. People can view the records at PRONI (Public Records Office), and we can still do the issuing of cirtificates.” A fire in October 1995 devastated St Patrick’s but following repairs it was officially reopened two years later by Bishop Patrick Walsh. Today it continues to attract a mix of parish residents, former parishioners who moved away, and city centre workers – as well as many tourists. The church either holds or owns a number of relics and shrines, including St Anthony of Padua and two relics of St Patrick, amongst them a small piece of bone taken from St Patrick’s burial site in Downpatrick.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, for the origional story.

Building’s link to 1916 Easter Rising hero Patrick Pearse

THE building of St Patrick’s Church bears a link to another famous Patrick in Irish history.

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The altar and statue of St Patrick above its door were carved by the father of Patrick Pearse, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising. James Pearse was born in London in 1839 and upon settling in Ireland founded a stonemasonry firm in Dublin, Pearse and Sons. Commissioned to carry out work at St Patrick in 1877, it is with a certain irony that various historians have attested to James’s atheism. Such was the cynicism around the sincerity of his religious views, according to the magazine History Ireland, that in 1883 James Pearse is said to have written to Archdeacon Kinnane of Fethard maintaining that his conversion to Catholicism, which occurred when married to his first wife, was genuine. However, the report notes “there is evidence to suggest that he may have published anti-religious free-thought pamphlets under the pseudonym ‘Humanitas'”. Despite openly criticising the Catholic Church and setting up schools outside the church’s control, Patrick Pearse, pictured above, is generally believed to have held stronger religious views than his father. James Pearse died in September 1900 while staying with his brother in Birmingham. The firm he created, Pearse and Sons, was wound up a decade later.

With many thanks to: The Irish News

IRISH: THE FORGOTTEN WHITE SLAVES

“Well you learn somthing new every day….

THEY came as slaves: human cargo transported on British ships bound for the Americas. They were shipped by hundreds and thousands and included men, women, and even the youngest of children. 

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Whenever they rebelled or even disobyed an order, they were punished in the harshest ways. Slave owners would hang their human property by their hands and set their hands or feet on fire as one form of punishment. Some were burned alive and had their heads placed on pikes in the marketplace as a warning to other captives.

We don’t really need to go through all the gory details, do we? We know all too well the atrocities of the African slave trade.

But are talking about African slavery? King James VI and Charles I also led a continued effort to enslave the Irish. Britain’s Oliver Cromwell furthered this practice of dehumanizing one’s next door neighbour.

The Irish slave trade began when James VI sold 30,000 Irish prisoners as slaves to the New World. His Proclamation of 1625 required Irish political prisoners to be sent overseas and sold to English settlers in the West Indies.

By the mid 1600s, the Irish were the main slaves sold to Antigua and Montserrat. At the time, 70% of the total population of Montserrat were Irish slaves.

Ireland quickly became the biggest source of human livestock for English merchants. The majority of the early slaves to the New World were actually white.

From 1641 to 1652, over 500,000 Irish were killed by the English and another 300,000 were sold as slaves. Ireland’s population fell from about 1,500,000 to 600,000 in one single decade.

Families were ripped apart as the British did not allow Irish dads to take their wives and children with them across the Atlantic. This led to a helpless population of homeless women and children. Britain’s solution was to auction them off as well.

During the 1650s, over 100,000 Irish children between the ages of 10 and 14 were taken from their parents and sold as slaves in the West Indies, Virginia and New England. In this decade, 52,000 Irish (mostly women and children) were sold to Barbados and Virginia.

Another 30,000 Irish men and women were also transported and sold to the highest bidder. In 1656, Cromwell ordered that 2000 Irish children be taken to Jamaica and sold as slaves to English settlers.

Many people today will avoid the Irish slaves what they truly were: Slaves. They’ll come up with terms like “Indentured Servants” to describe what occurred to the Irish. However, in most cases from the 17th and 18th centuries, Irish slaves were nothing more than human cattle.

As an example, the African slave trade was just beginning during this same period. It is well recorded that African slaves, not tainted with the stain of the hated Catholic theology and more expensive to purchase, were often treated far better than their Irish counterparts.

 

African slaves were very expensive during the late 1600s (£50 Sterling). Irish slaves came cheap (no more than £5 Sterling). If a planter whipped, branded or beat an Irish slave to death, it was never a crime. A death was a monetary setback, but far cheaper than killing a more expensive African.

The English masters quickly began breeding the Irish women for both their own personal pleasure and for greater profit. Children of slaves were themselves slaves, which increased the size of the master’s workforce.

Even if an Irish woman somehow obtained her freedom, her kids would remain slaves of her master. Thus, Irish mothers, even with this new found emancipation, would seldom abandon their children and would remain in servitude.

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In time, the English thought of a better way to use these women to increase their market share: The settlers began to breed Irish women and girls (many as young as 12) with African men to produce slaves with a distinct complexion. These new “mulatto” slaves brought a higher price than Irish livestock and, likewise, enabled  the settlers to save money rather than purchase African slaves.

The practice of interbreeding Irish females with African men went on for several decades and was so widespread that, in 1681, legislation was passed “forbidding the practice of mating Irish slave women to African slave men for the purpose of producing slaves for sale.” In short, it was stopped only because it interfered with the profits of a large slave transport company.

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England continued to ship tens of thousands of Irish slaves for more than a century. Records state that, after the 1798 Irish Rebellion, thousands of Irish slaves were sold to both America and Australia. There were horrible abuses of both African and Irish captives. One British ship even dumped 1,302 slaves into the Atlantic Ocean so that the crew would have plenty of food to eat.

There is little question the Irish experienced the horrors of slavery as much (if not more, in the 17th Century) as the Africans did. There is also little question that those brown, tanned faces you witness in your travels to the West Indies are very likely a combination of African and Irish ancestry.

In 1839, Britain finally decided on it’s own to end its participation in Satan’s highway to hell and stopped transporting slaves. While their decision did not stop pirates from doing what they desired, the new law slowly concluded this chapter of Irish misery.

But, if anyone, Black or white, believes that slavery was only an African experience, then they’ve got it completely wrong. Irish slavery is a subject worth remembering, not erasing from our memories.

But, why is it so seldom discussed? Do the memories of hundreds of thousands of Irish victims not merit more than a mention from an unknown writer?

Or is their story to be the one that their English masters intended: “To completely disappear as if it never happened?

None of the Irish victims ever made it back to their homeland to describe their ordeal. These are the lost slaves; the ones that time and biased history books conveniently forgot.

With many thanks to: Peter Thomson

 

Remember the Guilford For wrongly convicted on 5 October 1974, and Incarcerated for 15 years by British Injustice

On 5 October 1974, five people were killed and approximately 65 were injured after two 6-pound gelignite bombs went off in two pubs – – the Horse and Groom and the Seven Stars – – in Guildford, England. All but one of the deaths were British soldiers just returning from “duty” in the occupied North of Ireland.

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In 1975, three men and one woman were convicted of the bombings and given life sentences based on coerced testimony and fabricated evidence. A 1977 appeal was rejected. However a second appeal was opened in 1987 with additional evidence of British collusion presented. Finally, in 1989, the convictions of the so-called “Guilford Four,” having already spent 15 years in a British prison, were declared a gross miscarriage of justice by a Court of Appeal. Although three British police officers – Thomas Style, John Donaldson, and Vernon Attwell – were subsequently charged with fabricating evidence in their investigation of the Guildford bombings, those charges were, as expected, dismissed.

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The film, “In the Name of the Father,” (1993) is based on the plight of The Guilford Four, one of whom (Paul Michael Hill) would go on to marry Courtney Kennedy, the daughter of American President Robert Kennedy (assassinated in 1968), and a subseqent miscarriage of justice against the so-called “Maguire Seven,” who were tried and convicted in 1976 for making the explosives used in the bombings; and whose charges were reversed in 1991.

Notably, four of the PIRA’s six-member unit known as the “Balcombe Street Siege Gang,” had claimed responsibility for the murders. When they were on trial in 1997 for charges related to the Balcombe Street siege, they asked their solicitors to “draw attention to the fact that four totally innocent people were serving massive prison sentences” for the Guilford blast as well as for three bombings in Woolwich, but they were never charged for those incidents.

On 6 June 2000, 25 years after the four young people were wrongfully convicted of the bombings, Tony Blair became the first person in authority to apologise for the Miscarriage of Justice.

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Guildford Four: Paul Michael Hill, aged 21; Gerard “Gerry” Conlon (21); Patrick “Paddy” Armstrong (25); and Carole Richardson (18) at the time of the trial.

Maguire Seven: Anne Maguire, aged 40, her husband Patrick Maguire (42), their son Patrick Maguire (17); William Smyth, brother to Anne Maguire (37); Patrick O’Neill, a family friend (35); and Patrick “Giuseppe” Conlon, who died in prison never knowing they would be found innocent, brother-in-law to Anne Maguire (52) – father of the Guildford Four’s Gerry Conlon, pictured above speaking of another Miscarrarge of Justice, The Craigavon Two.

 

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with many thanks to: Ireland’s Own, for the orgional story.

 

 

 

Relatives call for answers over possible new Loughgall massacare evidence

Villiers issues certificate preventing attorney general from orrdering fresh inquests

RELATIVES of eight PIRA men and a civillian shot dead in cold blood and murdered by the British SAS have called on the British government to confirm if new evidence in the case has come to light.

LOUGHALL REMEMBERED

The call came after representatives of the Loughgall Truth and Justice Campaign met with the North of Ireland Office officials. The meeting was called after Secretary of State Theresa Villiers issued a certificate taking a decision on ordering fresh inquests away from attorney general John Larkin. Citing “national security”, the decision will now be taken by advocate general Jeremy Wright who is also the attorney general for England and Wales. Eight PIRA men were butchered and shot down by the SAS as they attacked Loughgall RUC station in Co Armagh in May 1987. Civilian Anthony Hughes (36) from Caledon in Co Tyrone was also murdered when he drove unknowingly into the pre-planned SAS ambush. The families of the victims believe no attempt was made to arrest the PIRA men and they were shot down in cold blood. The Irish News revealed in May that the British government apologised to the Hughes family and confirmed he was “wholly innocent of any wrongdoing”. Mairead Kelly, whose brother Patrick was murdered, said grieving families now want to know if new material has emerged and if it had been made available to the police Historical Enquries Team, which has issued a report on the ambush. 10156071_626945027385275_4287414482366874276_nThe campaigner said an NIO official “refused to deny the assertion put to him, that the secretary of state had founded her decision on new material”. Mrs Kelly also said the families were told the material has been “returned to the state agencies it had originated from, one of which included the PSNI/RUC”, leaving Mr Wright “in the dark”. Relatives have claimed the decision to bypass Mr Larkin the Attorney General for the North of Ireland is another British cover-up and is “morally and politically wrong and we believe the only interest it serves is to protect the British government”. They have also called on Ms Villiers to meet with them. The government has insisted the decision is being made by the appropriate law officer, independent of government and if you believe that you will believe anything, and watch the Pink elephants fly.

With many thanks to: Connla Young, The Irish News, for the origional story.

Martin “Sparky” Breen O.C. (Officer Commanding), No.1unit flying column I.R.A Tipperary Town. R.I.P Fuair se bas ar son Saoirse na hEireann.

  Beannacht de leat

 

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Friends Of Irish Freedom Inc.

This from the James Connolly Assoc. in Australia:

 

Martin “Sparky” Breen O.C. No. 1 Flying Column I.R.A. Tipperary Town.

 

On the day he died, Breen and his two comrades were spotted near his home by Free State soldiers. When commanded to halt, the three I.R.A. men attempted to escape and were fired upon. They took cover and returned fire. It was a short gun battle. After two minutes, Breen’s parabellum jammed. He was shot in the head and died instantly. Sparky Breen died on 10 January 1923 aged 26. He is buried in St. Michael’s Cemetery, Tipperary, Republican Plot.

 

The Gallant Irregulars

 

Oh come in and sit down gentle Cathleen,

Now come in I have good news for ye,

Oh come and sit down my own darling,

Oh come in cried the old mban na tir.

 

Now the old women’s face it grew brighter,

Oh Cathleen O’Connor she cried!,

Oh i put up the gallant irregulars in my little cabin last night.

 

Last night as the cocks they were crowing,

The loud knocking it came to my door,

Sure I knew it was the boys of the column returning,

From an ambush way down in Rossmore.

 

As I gazed threw the slit in the window,

Such a fine sight I never have seen,

For there were the gallant irregulars,

Who were wearing their jackets of green.

 

Well twas quickly they entered my cabin,

As they lay down their guns on the floor,

‘Tis a cold night’ remarked the young captain,

‘To be crossing the sweet Galtymore’,

 

‘Would you fill us a glass and we’ll pay you,

For we’re traitors to england’s proud queen,

And we heard it way over the mountain,

That you keep here a little shebeen’.

 

So twas gayly I filled up their glasses,

Here’s a health to all rebels I cried,

And to all to those battle for freedom,

On the green hills of Ireland they die.

And here’s to the gallant irregulars,

Who fought for their country and I.

 

‘So cheer up my good hearted old woman,

And fill us a glass of poitin’ asked the young captain.

 

And here’s a health to the gallant Sean Treacy,

Sparky Breen and the brave Cathal Brugha,

And the noble and fearless Dinny Lacey,

Who died to give Ireland her due.

With many thanks to: James Connolly Assoc Australia.

 

The Boys of the Old Brigade – Commandant Michael O’Brien KiA – RIP

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The ambush party of the South Mayo Brigade IRA under the leadership of Tom Maguire, who on Tuesday, May 3 1921 launched a surprise attack on a detachment of RIC men and Black and Tans, inflicting severe losses on the enemy before making good their escape through the Partry mountains.

That engagement has gone into folk history as an unquestioned success for the IRA volunteers, whose battle achievements were exceeded only by their escape from certain capture and death by a force of several hundred British troops combing the Partry mountains in search of the rebels. In so doing, the Flying Column of the IRA claimed that it had been surrounded by up to 600 troops, but that the volunteers had fought their way out, inflicting up to 50 casualties.

01. Mattie Flannery (Ballinrobe)

02. Tommy Fahy (Ballinrobe)

03. Jack Collins (Cong)

04. Mick Collins (Cong)

05. John Butler (Ballinrobe)

06. Terry O’Brien (Ballinrobe)

07. Martin Conroy (Ballinrobe)

08. Comdt. Tom Lally (Ballinrobe)

09. Capt. Paddy Maye (Ballinrobe)

10. Brigadier Tom Maguire

11. Paddy King (Tourmakeady)

12. Tommy Cavanagh (Cong)

13. Seamus Burke (The Neale)

14. Michael Shaughessy (Cross)

15. Michael Corless (Cross)

16. Lt. Seamus O’Brien (Kilmaine)

17. Tommy Carney (Cong)

18. Paddy Gibbons (Tourmakeady)

19. Tom Murphy (Cong)

20. Michael Costello (Tourmakeady – known as “Soldier” due to his service in WWI)

21. Jack Ferguson (Ballinrobe – originally from Leitrim)

The space between No. 1 and No. 10 in the picture is deliberate and was done as a tribute to their fallen adjutant Comdt. Michael O’Brien (Kildun, The Neale) who was killed in action as the ASU retreated from Tourmakeady. This was done at the suggestion of Tom Maguire.

With many thanks to: James Connolly Assoc Australia

Williams to die: others reprieved The Irish News August 31st 1942

RIP BRAVE SON OF EIRE TOM WILLIAMS

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Anne DevlinSociety Belfast

 

Five of the six condemned Belfast youths have been reprieved. Only Thomas Joseph Williams is to die. Cordner, Perry, Oliver and Cahill received life sentences while Simpson gets 15years. He is the youngest of the six and was recommended to mercy by the trial jury.

At the trial, the police alleged that Williams made a statement in which he said, he had suggested firing at the police car as a distraction to allow the Easter parade to pass off uninterrupted.

News of the Governors decision was greeted with great relief. But the prevalent feeling was one of extensive sorrow that a lad of 19 years was going to die.

The Dublin Reprieve Committee last night issued the following statement. ‘The. Reprieve of five of the condemned men does not in any way alter our position. This committee will continue to work

tirelessly to secure the reprieve of Thomas Williams with un diminished energy.

In the event of the authorities making Williams the victim, Ireland will make it known to the world that this execution would never be sanctioned by the Irish people who will observe Wednesday as a National day of morning.

 

—  With many thanks to the: Anne Devlin Society, Belfast.

 

 

 

Oglach Charles Breslin and brothers Oglach’s Michael Devine and David Devine, West Tyrone Brigade. RIP brave son’s of Eire

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Irish, Republican and Proud.

In the early hours of 23 February 1985, three young Volunteers Charles Breslin (aged 20), and brothers Michael Devine (aged 22) and David Devine (aged 16) were summarily executed by British State Forces in a pre-planned shoot-to-kill operation in a field in Strabane, Co. Tyrone.

 

The cowardly SAS lay in wait for the young lads and gave them no warning as they opened fire from several positions surrounding the field. Giving the Volunteers no chance.

 

Local friends, families and comrades came together and formed a flute band in the memory of these brave young men and to this day they still travel near and far keeping their name alive. I have often seen them at events in Belfast and they are an excellent memorial band.

 

Here is a link to a song that was written in their memory by The Irish Brigade https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kmY_XeqHRf0

 

Irish, Republican and Proud. as a page wants to keep the name of our brave patriot dead alive in anyway than we can. I was asked to make this image by a fan of the page who knew these volunteers, so if you would like something similar done please get in touch. Thanks

 

 

“MY BROTHER IS NOT A CRIMINAL” – Fr Brian McCreesh.

TODAY marks the 33rd Anniversary of the death of South Armagh Hunger Striker Raymond McCreesh and Derry Hunger Striker Patsy O’Hara. Raymond was the third Hunger Striker to die, he would not be the last.

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A native of Camlough and from a staunch Catholic background his family came under intense pressure from the church to bring him off the strikes, the tragedy is that he was due for release in less than 2 years when he went on the strike but that didn’t matter to Raymond.

Raymond went on the Blanket immediately upon his arrival at the H-Blocks. His selection for the hunger strike was conroversial because he was so queit and wasn’t a famous IRA man. Some thought his religious nature would make him susceptible to the influence of interfering priests trying to get him off the hunger strike, even his own brother. But, Bobby Sands, who knew Raymond from being on the same wing, understood his determination. So did Frank Hughes, whom he shared a cell with.

Oddly enough, the same British corporal who Francis Hughes killed during the fire fight that led to his capture, was the same man who was the first to open fire on Raymond’s (ASU) Active Service Unit a few years earlier. They both could attest to Ray McCreesh’s resolve and dedication. Raymond receives the final farewell from his comrades in South Armagh.

At 2:11am on Thursday morning, 21 May 1981, Raymond McCreesh became the third hunger striker to die for Ireland’s cause.

It is Fr Brian McCreesh who spoke the infamous words that summed up the entire need for the ethos of the Hunger Strikes.

“My Brother is not a Criminal”.

Patsy O’Hara, a native of Derry city, was the former leader of the (INLA), Irish National Liberation Army in the H-Blocks. Writing shortly before the Hunger Strike began, Patsy grimly declared:

“We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation. The real criminals are the British imperiaists who have thrived on the blood and sweat of generations of Irish men. They have maintained control of Ireland through force of arms and there is only one way to end it. I would rather die than rot in this concrete tomb for years to come.”

Patsy O’Hara died at 11:29pm on Thursday, May 21st – on the same day as Raymond McCreesh with whom he had embarked on the hunger-strike sixty-one days earlier.

Both men paid the ultimate price for their dedication, courage and beliefs. We remember them as ordinary men who did extraordinary things in extraordinary times.

May they both Rest in Peace brave sons of Ireland.

Àdh môr oraibh Patsy agus Raymond.

Fuair sè bàs ar son saoirse na hÈireann

C xx

With many thanks to: Erin Go Bragh.

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