Hunger Striker Commemoration, Belfast, Co. Antrim, Ireland ,Sunday September 25th, 2011.
Amid the driving rain coming down from Belfast’s Black Mountain, the N.G.A. held a commemoration in memory of the 10 hunger strikers that gave their lives 30 years ago in the cages of Long Kesh on Sunday 25th September 2011. The other 12 hunger strikers, who gave their lives for Irish freedom were also remembered on the day.
Volunteers Bobby Sands, Kieran Doherty and Joe McDonnell are buried in Milltown cemetery along with Volunteer Seán Mac Caughey who died a horrific death on hungerstrike in Portlaoise Gaol in 1946.
Despite the rain, a large crowd turned out with people coming from as far away as Wexford. The proceedings were presided over by Donnacha Ó Mathúna (NGA President). Wreaths were placed in memory of each of the four Volunteers. Peggy Galligan read out the roll of honour with the names of the 22 heroes. Paddy Lennon (The NGA’s P.R.O.) gave a stirring rendition of Pearse’s poem “The Rebel”. A piper followed with a lament and then former P.O.W. and former hunger striker Tommy McKearney gave the main oration. The piper closed off with “Amhrán na bhFiann”.
Before the commemoration ended Tommy McKearney was presented with a beautiful bespoke crystal piece by NGA secretary Matt Doyle. The inscription read as follows:
“To Tommy McKearney, In appreciation of your dedicated service and acknowledgement of outstanding patriotism, Le míle buíochas ón gCoiste Chumann Uaigheann na Laochra Gael , Leanann an streachailt ar aghaigh.” (as béarla: With great gratitude from the committee of the National Graves Association, The struggle goes on)
We wish to extend our thanks to all that attended and helped on the day. Go raibh maith agaibh go léir.
Liam Ó Culbáird,
Meán Fomhair, 2011