INLA Volunteer Kevin Lynch
Kevein Lynch was born in the village of Park, not far from the town of Dungiven as the youngest of a large Catholic family. Dungiven in 1981 was a small town of a few thousand people but its citizens were predominantly nationalist. Large contingents of both British soldiers and RUC were present in the area.
Kevin had a normal childhood and was very active in GAA. He excelled in both Gaelic football and hurling and played on championships teams in both sports. He also had a short stint as a boxer at St. Canice's and reached the Co. Derry final. He is remembered as a great athelete.
At age fifteen, Kevin left school and began to work with his father as a builder. After a year or so with his father, he joined his brothers to work in Bedford, England in 1973. Shortly after he returned home, he and nine other lads were stopped by a unit of Brits and put against a wall. They were given a bad kicking and two of them were drug away to the barracks.
It was around this time that Kevin joined the INLA, most likely with this event in mind. His brother Michael recalls that "he would never let himself be walked on." He decided to stand up for his rights as an Irishman.
His active service was short, less than six months. He was involved in an ambush in which an RUC man was badly wounded in November of 1976. The RUC decided to make a move against suspected INLA activists in the Dungiven area beginning in December. On the 2nd of that month, the RUC came to drag Kevin from his home. A number of other INLA men were arrested in the local area during that swoop.
After a thre day interrogation period at Castlereagh, a string of charges were brought against Kevin; including conspiracy, taking part in a punishment shooting and taking "legally" held shotguns. After a year on remand in the Crum, Kevin was tried in the Diplock courts and sentenced to ten years on all charges.
He immediately joined the blanket men in H3 on protest and found himself in a cell with his childhood mate Liam McCloskey. They stayed together until the hungerstrike of 1981. Kevin and Liam both took part in the 34 man fast that took place towards the end of the 1980 hungerstrike.
INLA prisoners took a large amount of abuse from the screws and Kevin was no exception to the rule. He was "put on the boards" on a number of occasions. This brutal practice could last up to a fortnight.
He spent four and a half years on the blanket and the day after the deaths of Ray McCreesh
and Patsy O'Hara
, he joined the hungerstrike. He was resolute in his strike and died after 71 days on strike on August 1st, 1981.
Follow up information:
Ireland's Own Hungerstrike Page
IRSM Fallen Comrade: Kevin Lynch