Random Ramblings from a Republican
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Hungerstriker: Raymond McCreesh

In 1957, Raymond McCreesh was born in Camlough, South Armagh as the seventh of eight children to a adamantly nationalist family. He involved himself in the Republican movement in his adolescence, joining Na Fianna Eireann at 16. Not long after that, he joined the 1st Battalion of the IRA.

McCreesh was employed as a milkman and learned the streets and countryside of his area while performing his routes. This intelligence would greatly aid his comrades activity in that region.

Almost no one save the men he ran operations with knew that Raymond was a Republican. He was always discreet about his involvement. This is amazing when one considers the number of operations Raymond was involved in.

As a part of a four person ASU (active service unit), McCreesh carried out operations against occupying British forces. He was captured after an operation in 1976 and sentenced to 14 years in a star-chamber trial. As many volunteers who were arrested, he refused to accept the validity of the court he appeared in.

In a strange bit of coincidence, the SAS man who first opened fire on McCreesh would later be killed during the wounding and capture of Francis Hughes in South Derry. And also in late 1979, Hughes and McCreesh shared a cell together while on the blanket.

Raymond was not chosen as one of the seven who commenced hungerstrike in 1980, but he was one of the thirty to participate for the last for days of that protest. Hi reputation as a determined Republican soldier put him in the forefront of the Volunteers to be chosen for the 1981 strike. He was the fourth man to join the strike, the same day as his INLA comrade Patsy O'Hara.

He sought strength from his brother, Father Brian McCreesh during his hungerstrike and his brother did not fail him. His brother, to the dismay of the Catholic Church, supported his hungerstrike from day one. In Raymonds final days, Fr. Brian sent an urgent telegram to 10 Downing St. reading:

"My Brother has gone two months without food, and four and a half years without clothes or washing. All he has left now is his pride as a young Irishman, and his loyalty to his fellow prisoners both living and dead" He asked her to respect his dignity and to move to save his life."

Prime Minister Thatcher sent no reply to Brian McCreesh and Raymond died shortly after. After 61 days, Raymond gave his life for his cause; Irish Freedom. He was unbroken and resolute in his strike.

The IRA planted a tribute in Raymond's hometown, Camlough, shortly after his death. This tribute was a 1,000lb bomb that disintegrated a British Army Saracen.

McCreesh fought and died for what he believed was just. This fight is still continuing both in the prison cells and on the streets of the occupied counties. Don't forget about what these men died for, their ideals are not being achieved thru the so-called "mainstream" channels. 
INLA Volunteer Patsy O'Hara

Patsy O'Hara was born on July 11, 1957 in Derry city. He was to follow in his brothers' footsteps by joining the Republican movement. His brother, Tony, was also a prisoner in the H-blocks during his Patsy's hungerstrike. Also, the eldest son in the family, Sean Seamus was imprisoned in Long Kesh for a period of four and a half years for Republican activities.

Mrs. O'Hara believes that it was the riots of early 1969 in Derry that first sparked Patsy's fierce nationalism and the Battle of the Bogside in August of that year helped to firmly seal his feelings. He joined na Fianna Eireann in 1970.

At the beginning of internment, the eldest O'Hara brother Sean Seamus was arrested. Shortly after this, Patsy was on his way past a barricade when, without warning, the Brit soldiers at the checkpoint opened fire. Hit in the leg, he spent a month and a half in the hospital recovering. These events greatly affected the O'Hara family and helped even more to fuel Patsy's fervor.

January 30, 1972 would be a day that would stew in Patsy's mind until the day he died. His father took him to watch the civil rights march in the city center. They watched the massive march from a distance for a while, as it wound down into the Brandywell portion of Derry. Once it was in the distance, Patsy went back to his house and listened to the hell unfold on the radio broadcast. The horror of the murder of civilians struck him as it did many young men around his age.

His parents knew that date was the culmination of Patsy's bitterness regarding the occupying forces. They knew and supported his obvious decision. Mrs. O'Hara said of her sons: "I thought that that was the right thing to do. I am proud of him, proud of them all."

He became active in the "Republican clubs" in Derry city and was interned in late 1973.

In 1975, at the age of 17, Patsy joined the newly formed Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and also the ranks of the INLA. At the young age of 21, he was elected to the ard chomhairle of the IRSP and began to campaign against the star-chamber, juryless courts that Republican prisoners faced.

Patsy was arrested for the fifth and final time in May of 1979 for possession of a grenade. He was tried and sentenced to 8 years by the British judge.

As the leader of the INLA prisoners in the H-blocks, he was the first INLA member to put himself forth for the hungerstrike. He joined his PIRA comrade Raymond McCreesh on the 22 March 1981. 61 days later, both men succumbed to death by starvation; asking only for five simple things:

1. not to have to wear a prison uniform;
2. not to have to do prison work;
3. to freely associate with other prisoners
4. to organize their own educational and recreational facilities;
5. one visit, one letter and one parcel per week. *

During the Blanket protests Patsy was quoted as saying: "We stand for the freedom of the Irish nation so that future generations will enjoy the prosperity they rightly deserve, free from foreign interference, oppression and exploitation."

May this dream be realised on the ideals of these brave men. In the words of Patsy O'Hara; "Let the fight go on!" Do not let the Provisional Sinn Fein leadership walk across the graves of some of Ireland's bravest men and straight into Stormont. This treaty of surrender is not what the Volunteers died for.

IRSCNA Piece on Patsy
IRSM Commemoration Statement 2000

*These demands are still being sought by the Republican POWs. Support them in their struggle.  
Thursday, May 12, 2005
  Today in Irish History:
Francis Hughes dies in the H-Blocks

Born on the 28th of February, 1956, to a large Catholic family, Francis Hughes grew up in the town of Tamlaghtduff, Bellaghy in South Derry along with his cousins and fellow Volunteers, Benedict and Thomas McElwee. All three of these men were to serve long stints in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh; two of them were to never come out alive.

When Francis left school at the age of sixteen, he took up an apprenticeship as a decorator and painter. Upon completing this apprenticeship, he went on the run.

As a Volunteer he was brazen and fearless in the face of danger. His first stint of active service was with the Stickies, but after their unilateral ceasefire, Francis became disillusioned and began running his own unit of men in independent operations. Rightly impressed, the Provos recruited the group as a whole in early 1973.

In the years to come, Francis' reputation as a courageous and bold Volunteer began to build amongst both the Nationalist community and the security forces in the Six Counties. The pressure to catch him came to a full head of steam in the spring of 1978, when he and another Volunteer had a gun battle with two SAS members, killing one and wounding another. The wounded soldier got off a burst of automatic sub-machine gun fire, wounding both Volunteers. Francis was hit in the thigh, preventing him from escape. He bade his comrade to flee and told him he'd fare for himself.

Francis was captured the next morning, having crawled nearly a half mile with a shattered leg. He was weak from exposure and blood loss, but was as defiant as ever. While they carried him away on a stretcher, he screamed "Up the PROVIES!" at the top of his lungs. At the time of his capture, Francis was being called "the most wanted man in the North[sic]"

Put on trial after a period of recovery from his injuries, Francis was put on trial and found guilty of murder as well as nearly a dozen other charges. He was sentenced to life for the killing of the SAS soldier; the other charges totaled 69 years in prison.

Arriving in Long Kesh, he immediately involved himself in the campaign for political status. On the blanket, he continued to build his reputation, defying the screws. They would do little to stop him; they were in as much awe of Francis as the POWs. He hobbled around on his crutches, yelling slogans and pick-me-ups to his comrades. Very few other prisoners in the history of the struggle could have gotten away with this without regular torture from the screws.

Francis was one of the 30 POWs who took part in the last stages of the 1980 Hungerstrike. This strike was called off when an apparent deal for political status was struck with the Brits. The British reneged on their original deal and the no-wash protest went on.

A second hungerstrike began on March 1st, 1981 when Volunteer Bobby Sands refused his meals. Two weeks later, Hughes joined his comrade on the strike. On May 12th, after 59 days refusing food, Francis Hughes died, unbroken. He died for Ireland.

Francis Hughes: Ireland's Own
Francis Hughes: Scourge of the UDR: Ireland's Own
Hungerstrike Commemorative: Francis Hughes
Irish Hungerstrike Page
Noraid Hungerstrike Page

The Boy from Tamlaghtduff

As I walked through the Glenshane Pass I heard a young girl mourn
'The boy form Tamlaghtduff 'she cried 'is two years dead and gone'
How my heart is torn apart this young man to lose
Oh I'll never see the likes again of my young Francis Hughes
For many years his exploits were a thorn in Englands side
The hills and glens became his home there he used to hide
Once when they surrounded him he quietly slipped away
Like a fox he went to ground and kept the dogs at bay
Moving round the countryside he often made the news
But they could never lay their hands on my brave Francis Hughes
Finally they wounded him and captured him at last
From the countryside he loved they took him to Belfast
Oh from Musgrave Park to the Crumlin Road and then to an H-Block cell
He went straight on the blanket then on hungerstrike as well
His will to win they could never break no matter what they tried
He fought them every day he lived and he fought them as he died
As I walked through the Glenshane Pass I heard a young girl mourn
'The boy form Tamlaghtduff 'she cried 'is two years dead and gone'
How my heart is torn apart this young man to lose
Oh I'll never see the likes again of my young Francis Hughes 
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
  I have a virus that seems to have locked up most of my RAM and prevents me from sending information over the internet. I haven't been able to post from my own computer, excuse the pause. 
Friday, May 06, 2005
**continued from yesterday
My Brother Bobby
by: Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981

Bobby was seven then, As he grew older he was always up to some mischief.

Bernie recalls: "We were on holiday in Waterford, and he was mad on fishing. He must have been only about nine or ten at the time. We were down at the quay where all these fishermen were with their tackle, and he was standing with only a wee hand-reel and a bit of Dairylea cheese at the bottom of it. But he kept pulling in the fish, and all these men were looking at him.

"So, when he came home that evening, my mother put him to bed. But he got up with Marcella and the two of them sneaked out and down to the quay. My mother found them there, the two of them, in the darkness, standing there with the Dairylea cheese, still trying to catch the fish, and she nearly killed the two of them.

"Bobby hid all the fish he caught under our caravan and never told my mother. We got this awful smell, and the next morning there were al these fish lying rotten underneath the caravan and he had to go and throw them away.... He was always mischievous.

"When we were kids we used to be in a kind of wee gang, and we used to go way up the hill near us, the Carnmoney Hill, and build a hut. And Bobby would light a fire, making chips and things like that. He took my mother's pots and her food and we'd all be sitting around toasting bread, imagining we were camping out. Then my mother would catch us and she would half-kill us.

"One day we were up the hill and a dog bit me. Before Bobby would let my mother know, he took me down to the hospital. He would always avoid my mother knowing things that would worry her - if we, or he, fell and hurt ourselves, for example - she never even knew half the things that happened."

Similarly, in later years, when Bobby was imprisoned, he would never tell the family about any beatings by warders, any spells in the punishment block, or any sickness. He always made light of everything and never complained to his visitors, even when he was suffering agonising pains on Hungerstrike.


Bernie remembers how protective he was towards his sisters: "When we were kids he was always protecting us, myself and Marcella. If anyone went to hit us he would jump in. He was always small for his age and he used to get murdered by different fellows in the street, bigger fellows, and still he would go out and beat them back. Bobby wouldn't let anyone touch us.

"Also, I remember how stubborn he was. If we had done something wrong in the house, my mother would put us outside to play and then when she called us in Bobby wouldn't come in. He would wait until she asked him. There was always this stubborn attitude the whole time.

"Or if he got hit he wouldn't let anyone see him crying. He just went about as if nothing had happened. When he got beatings from other kids he would get up and either hit back or walk away. Even if he collapsed around the corner after the beating, he wouldn't let others see it. He just wouldn't give in to people."

An attitude that, later in life, when he was imprisoned, he was to reproduce time and time again until his dying breath.


Even when the four Sands children were young their mother told them about "the Troubles" during the twenties and the thirties, and she told them about what her grandmother, a staunch republican, had told her.

Bernie recalls: "Once "the Troubles" started it wasn't as if it came out of the blue, or that we suddenly became aware... When we saw the riots on television my mother would say: look that's what we went through, exactly the same thing. She used to always say to us: I hope you will never have to go through what we went through. But then the same thing did happen all over again"

Bernie recalls how Bobby decided to become an active republican: "I was young at the time, still at school, but he saw that many things happening around him. "The Troubles" we getting underway, the rioting was on television, and different people were getting shot and terrible things like that. He was just at the age when he was beginning to become aware of these things happening around him. He more or less just said "right, this is when I'm going to take up." He was about sixteen or seventeen when he became involved.

"There were a couple of our cousins arrested and interned, and Bobby felt that he should get involved and start doing something because it was starting to hit home now."

**A few more days of this article, as its a long one.

Thursday, May 05, 2005
  God bless you Bobby Sands
Rest in Peace

My Brother Bobby

by Bernadette Sands
An Phoblacht/Republican News
May 9th, 1981

As the health of twenty-seven year old H-Block hunger striker Bobby Sands steadily deteriorated through the last days of his life, the distraught features of his mother, Rosaleen, aged 57, and his twenty six year old sister Marcella, appeared increasingly regularly on television screens and newspaper front pages, North and South.

Meanwhile, away from the spotlight of publicity, Bobby's father, John, aged 57 and his twenty two year old sister Bernadette, and his eighteen year old brother John, also very much felt the strain of Bobby's deteriorating condition.

Last weekend, with Bobby entering a coma on the verge of his death on Monday night, AP/RN reporter Peter Hayes spoke to his sister Bernadette about her tremendous respect for Bobby and about their childhood and youth, especially the trauma of loyalist intimidation twice leading to the Sands family being forced to move home in Belfast.

Twenty two year old Bernadette Sands, who both looks like her brother Bobby and displays similar characteristics of personal strength and determination, fully supported his decision to go on hunger strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. She stated last weekend:

"I have been behind him all the way. I don't think it was a decision that he just made off the top of his head. I think he weighed everything up, and he knew the consequences. Also, I feel that after four and a half years on the blanket protest, and the prisoners having tried every other possible way, that the only alternative was the hungerstrike."

Bobby Sands, who's twenty seventh birthday fall ont he ninth day of his sixty six day hungerstrike to the death, was born in MArch 1954. His sisters, Marcella, one year younger, and Bernadette, were born in April 1955 and November 1958, respectively. All three lived their early years at Abbots Cross in the predominantly Protestant Newtownabbey district of north Belfast.

A second son, John, now aged 18, was born to their parents, John and Rosaleen, now both aged 57, in June 1962. That was the year after the Catholic family had been forced to move home owing to loyalists intimidation during the dying embers of the IRA's ill fated border campaign.

Bernie Sands recalled: "Most of the people who lived in the the row of houses we lived in in Abbots Cross, seemed to be in the police of B Specials. It would be around 1961, I was just a baby at the time, but I can often remember my mother telling me about it. Everyone took my mother to be a Protestant because she was so quiet, she didn't bother with the neighbours.

"But when they found out that we were Catholics, one of the neighbours started hammering on the walls. And, when my mother went out to hang out the washing on the line, that neighbour went out and put exactly similar clothes on her line. If my mother cleaned her windows this women did exactly the same, and she would be sneering down at my mother. It got so bad that my mother took Bobby, Marcella and myself out for walks during the day to try to get away from the strain.

"She would tell my father about the banging, and the carry on, but when he came in from work (he worked as a baker) the banging would stop. Well, eventually my mother took sick, and went into hospital, and the doctor told my father either to take the neighbours to court or to give up the house, because my mother was going through torture. So my parents being so quiet, and not wanting to bother anybody, they gave up the house. So for about six months we have to live with different aunts, until we got a house in Doonbeg Drive in Rathcoole, to which we moved in December '61."

(**MORE of this article tomorrow)


Collection of Bobby Sands Net Resources
Bobby Sands @ Ireland's Own
Bobby Sands Trust
Diary of Bobby Sands

Other Related Information:

(*More on Bobby tomorrow) 
This weblog is dedicated to Irish Republican history and politics. Recommendations regarding topics can be emailed to me or left in the guest book, both of which are located below. Also below is a link list of sites that I frequent, I recommend you check them out.
Ta ar la anois.

12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 01/01/2004 - 02/01/2004 / 02/01/2004 - 03/01/2004 / 03/01/2004 - 04/01/2004 / 04/01/2004 - 05/01/2004 / 05/01/2004 - 06/01/2004 / 06/01/2004 - 07/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 08/01/2004 - 09/01/2004 / 09/01/2004 - 10/01/2004 / 10/01/2004 - 11/01/2004 / 11/01/2004 - 12/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 / 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 / 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 / 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 / 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 /

Powered by Blogger

Email Contact

Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com

Blogarama - The Blog Directory