‘Crann na Poblachta’ to be planted in Derry in memory of George McBrearty, Charles ‘Pop’ Maguire and the ten hunger strikers on 40th anniversary

This Sunday, to mark the 40th anniversary of IRA volunteers George McBrearty and Charles ‘Pop’ Maguire and the ten hunger strikers who died in the H-Blocks, a new ‘Crann na Poblachta’ will be planted in Derry.

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 10:12 am
Mrs Bridie McBrearty pictured with Bogside Artist Kevin Hasson at the George McBrearty mural in Rathkeele Way at a previous commemoration. DER2217GS002

The ‘Tree of the Republic’ - a native silver birch - will be embedded beneath the George McBrearty mural at the junction of Rathkeele Way and Rathlin Drive.

George’s mother Bridie said she hopes the tree will become a place of pilgrimage for the families of any republicans who lost their lives.

Mr. McBrearty was 24 when he was shot dead by undercover members of the British Army at the bottom of Southway on May 28, 1981, alongside Mr. Maguire who was 20.

They were killed at the height of the 1981 IRA and INLA hunger strike, one week after the deaths of Patsy O’Hara and Raymond McCreesh.

The tree will equally commemorate George’s brother Pat who died on the tenth anniversary of his death in 1991 and who had been deeply affected by his loss.

“This is the 40th anniversary of my son Volunteer George McBrearty and my son Pat’s 30th anniversary.

“We also intend to commemorate our ten martyred hunger strikers on their 40th anniversary as well. With that in mind we will plant a tree named Crann na Poblachta - the Tree of the Republic,” said Mrs. McBrearty.

The McBrearty family intend the new plantation to be an inclusive place of retreat.

“It will represent all those who have passed, those on rolls of honour, those many prisoners who have gone too soon, and the many people who contributed to the struggle in any way throughout the years.

“We especially ask the relatives and friends of those mentioned to place a little memento of their loved ones on or near the tree,” said Mrs. McBrearty.

This year’s guest speaker at the annual commemoration will be the independent republican Richard O’Rawe.

Mr. O’Rawe is a former PRO for the hunger strikers and blanket men in Long Kesh and has published a number of books on the period including ‘Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the H-block Hunger Strike’ and ‘Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer that Changed Irish History.’

“We invite everyone from across the republican spectrum, be they independent, party-affiliated, grouping-affiliated to community activists to come along to remember our fallen. We also encourage you all to look after your personal health by taking proper precautions and adhere to safety standards at this time,” said Mrs. McBrearty.

The event will take place on Sunday at 2p.m.