THOUSANDS ATTEND HUNGERSTRIKE COMMEMORATION IN GALBALLY, CO. TYRONE

The 1916 Societies held our fourth Annual National Hungerstrike Commemoration on Sunday past in Galbally, Co. Tyrone, with a huge crowd turning out in tribute to the H-Block Martyrs of 1981.

Thousands from across Ireland travelled to the key republican heartland, where a march and commemoration to the graveside of Volunteer Martin Hurson was held for the ten men who laid down their lives on the 1981 Hungerstrike, for their fellow prisoners, their ‘Five Demands’ and ultimately for Irish Freedom.

Local republican Noel McKeown chaired proceedings, which opened with a song in memory of the Hungerstrikers, ‘Forever on my mind’, sung by Sean Bresnahan from nearby Omagh. There then was reading of The 1916 Proclamation ‘As Gaeilge’ by Terri Cannon from Dublin.

Wreaths in memory of the Hungerstrikers were then laid on the grave of Martin Hurson, with Joe McNulty from Dungannon, who shared a cell with Martin during the Blanket Protest, laying a wreath on behalf of ‘Friends and Comrades’. Local man Peter Murphy laid a wreath on behalf of the 1916 Societies before Bernard Creggan concluded with a wreath on behalf of Tyrone National Graves Association.

Following, Rian Scannell from Meath read the Hungerstrike Roll of Honour, accompanied by a lament on the whistle from local musician Rhiannon Quinn. Galbally’s Mickey Hurson, a nephew of Martin Hurson, then lowered our National Flag, again accompanied by a lament on the whistle by Rhiannon Quinn. A Minute’s Silence followed in memory of all who paid the supreme sacrifice for Irish Freedom.

Tommy McKearney, a former Blanketman who himself endured the horrors of H-Block and spent 55 days on Hungerstrike in 1980, then gave the main oration, speaking of a need for republicans to challenge modern imperialism, which continues to blight Irish society not only in the north but across all of Ireland’s 32 counties.

Describing the Stormont Assembly as ‘a symptom of British imperialism’, with the ‘shoneen parliament’ in the south ‘which trades on Ireland’s sovereignty for its own narrow purposes’, he appealed for republicans to ‘take inspiration from the Hungerstrikers and their legacy, which continues to show for all the nobility of our cause – a cause we must see through to the end’.

Continuing he said:

‘We must rally the forces and rally the people that will break the chains that bind us. We can do it and we will do it. We have the ability and let there be no doubt this can be done.

‘And where there is doubt let us draw inspiration from those not only buried in this graveyard but the living who stand among and beside us here today – you the republican people of Ireland, who have stood fearlessly in the face of opposition and remain determined to accomplish the Irish Republic for which so many gave of their lives, among them Martin Hurson and his comrades who died on the Hungerstrike.’

Sean Bresnahan then sang ‘the Ballad of Martin Hurson’ before local singer Caron Brannigan concluded the commemoration with the singing of our National Anthem, Amrán na bhFiann. Tea and sandwiches were served afterwards in Galbally Community Centre.

The 1916 Societies thank all who made the journey to Galbally, especially those who travelled from afar. It was a fitting tribute to those who gave all that horrific summer in 1981. We are immensely proud of the Hungerstrikers and remain fully determined on the Republic for which they fought and died, resolved to continue the struggle for freedom until that Republic has been achieved.

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

Hungerstrike 35th Anniversary

(All pictures courtesy of Dan Campbell Snr – Coalisland)