New mural in memory of 22 republican hunger strikers
One of the longest political wall murals in Ireland was unveiled in Derry this week to commemorate the ten republican prisoners who died in the 1981 hunger strike in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh.
The launch of the political artwork on Bishop Street coincided with the 40th anniversary of the end of the seminal prison protest on October 3, 1981.
While principally commemorating the ten IRA and INLA hunger strikers of 40 years ago - Bobby Sands, Francie Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, Patsy O’Hara, Joe McDonnell, Martin Hurson, Kevin Lynch, Kieran Doherty, Thomas McElwee and Mickey Devine - the mural also acknowledges the role played by the women prisoners in Armagh Gaol in 1980 and 1981.
Equally, all of the republican prisoners who had died on various hunger strikes prior to the 1981 protest are remembered.
The names of twelve republicans who died between 1917 and 1976 are honoured in the new street art.
They are: Thomas Ashe, Terence MacSwiney, Michael Fitzgerald, Joe Murphy, Joseph Whitty, Andy O’Sullivan, Denny Barry, Tony D’Arcy, Jack McNeela, Seán McCaughey, Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg.
The unveiling of the new mural was the final event to mark the end of the 40th Anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike.
The mural – which stretches along the wall at Ard Foyle in Bishop Street – remembers all 22 republicans who have died on hunger strike from Thomas Ashe on the September 25, 1917 to Michael Devine on the August 20, 1981.
The centrepiece of the mural is of political prisoner and 1980 hunger striker, Mairéad Farrell, and reflects the contribution of the female prisoners in Armagh Gaol during this period.
Speaking at the unveiling Kevin McGettigan from the Bogside and Brandywell Monument Committee said: “We felt that it was very important that this major piece of artwork was carried out to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the 1981 hunger strike.
“We want to commend the artist who over many months worked in all weathers to get this project finished.
“The ten men who died on hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1981, as well as those republicans who died on hunger strike in the previous years and decades, continue to be held in the highest esteem by republicans everywhere.”
Malachy McCreesh, brother of Raymond McCreesh - the South Armagh IRA Volunteer who died on the same day as Patsy O’Hara on May 21, 1981 - addressed those in attendance.
He thanked the people of Derry and those across Ireland for their continuing support in remembering the hunger strikers.