An Article by Sean Bresnahan.

‘They shall be spoken of among their people. The generations shall remember them, and call them blessed’ — Pádraig Pearse

The military record of the West Tyrone-East Donegal Irish Republican Army, across the most recent phase of the long war for Irish Independence, reveals a comprehensive and continuous assault on the fabric of British rule in this area — an assault on crown rule that left nowhere safe for the British forces. Indeed resistance to British rule in Ireland has here been maintained across many generations — even through the leanest of times in our struggle. Suffice to say that the occupation has never held West Tyrone absent contest.

Across a war sustained for full-on 25 years, throughout which the British were never at any point secure in position — not even while in their barracks — fourteen IRA Volunteers went to their graves before time. Among their number — among the rank of those who stood up to defend our people — was IRA Óglach James ‘Josie’ Connolly. Fatally wounded while on Active Service, at Drumquin, near Omagh, he died on this day in 1989. Volunteer soldier of the Irish Republic, we salute you.

A loving and caring son and brother, he had much to offer in his short young life, from his precocious ability in the boxing ring and on the field of St. Eugene’s GFC to his work with the youths in his local area, to help them fulfill their own sporting promise. The determined service he gave to the Army was a reflection of his trusty character as a man — his love for his country a mirror of that he held for his family and friends, as it ought to have been. A soldier of the people, Josie personified everything that is right and decent about our struggle.

His memory and ideals will forever remain in the hearts of the people of West Tyrone. His generosity of spirit, his dignity as a man and his selfless dedication to the cause of freedom stand tall. They endure and inspire us to keep moving forward, to carry the baton, to finish the task and win the Republic for which he gave his young life. May the time to hand speed the final demise of British colonialism, in all of its hideous manifestations in our country. In the memory of this fearless Irish soldier, let ours be the generation that sees the flag unfurled.

‘A true son of Ireland, so let it be said. We salute you Volunteer Josie Connolly.’