This weekend will see County Leitrim republicans commemorate the 30th Anniversary of the 1981 Long Kesh Hunger Strike.
Especially remembered in the area is Vol. Joe McDonnell.
The Drumkeeran Sinn Féin Cumman is named in Joe’s memory and on Saturday 16th July there will be a parade in the village in his honour (starting at 5.30pm, with a social that evening in Forde’s Inn). On Sunday 17th July (from 12.00 noon through till 8.00pm) the National Hunger Strike Exhibition will be on display in Drumkeeran Community Centre. This is a fascinating historical archive that should be seen by all. It is most important that younger people come and learn about this sad period of Irish History.
Joe was born in Belfast in 1951 and at the age of 20 was interned, along with many many other young republicans. After internment Joe joined the Belfast Brigade of the IRA and was arrested along with his comrade Bobby Sands while on active service. In 1981 they both joined the Hunger Strike in Long Kesh prison.
While on the strike Joe contested the 1981 Dail election, where he came close to winning a seat in the Sligo-Leitrim constituency.
On the 8th July 1981, after 61 days on hunger strike, Joe died. He was nearly 30 years old.
At his funeral legendary Leitrim republican John Joe McGirl (who had acted as Joe’s Election Agent) quoted Padraig Pearse:
“He may seem the fool who has given his all, by the wise men of the world; but it was the apparent fools who changed the course of Irish history”
Please honour some of Ireland’s bravest men and attend the Drumkeeran Commemorative Events.