Dungiven was the last town of the hunger strike families to host the national commemoration, and it made sure to make a lasting impression for the estimated 15-20,000 people who visited, writes Sheena Jackson.
Events included a hunger strike exhibition and an evening debate on women from the period. However, the main event was the huge march on Sunday, with around 26 bands from throughout Ireland, alongside bands from England and Scotland, participating.
The first band to lead the march was the Kevin Lynch Memorial Flute Band, named after hunger striker Kevin Lynch, who was born in nearby Park and reared in Dungiven.
“It was emotional for us, but we are all very proud,” Bridie Lynch, sister of Kevin Lynch told the ‘Journal’. “Kevin would be very proud of it all, I know he would. It’s a great honour to have this commemoration in Dungiven. It’s a good day for Dungiven.”
As the parade, lead by the families of the hunger strikers, made its way from outside the town at Owenbeg to the field off the Curragh Road, historical re-enactments took place on the roadside.
“For those of us who lived through the Hunger Strike period the scenes being re-enacted were incredibly poignant and brought back painful memories,” said East Derry Sinn Fein MLA, Cathal O’hOisin.
Scenes included blanket protests and recitation of the Rosary at a bedside.
“The amout of effort put in for today and the entire weekend of events has been amazing,” said Mr. O’hOisin.
“It was very poignant and must have been especially so for the families and, of course, Dungiven is the last town of any of the hungers strikes to host the national commemoration so we knew it had to be done and we are glad it has been done.”
Participants included Sheena McTaggart who read ‘The Rhythm of Time’ by Bobby Sands, accompanied by Marion Donaghy on the flute; Francie Brolly who sang the H-Block Song, Declan Lynch who read the Roll of Honour and Dylan Quigg who lead the parade.
Robyn Harkin sang the national anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann.