Thursday, August 6, 2009



This blog wandered into Saint Mary's University College on the Falls Road and through the main exhibitions. All of them are brilliant. That aspect of the Féile goes back to almost the first Féile an Phobail twenty one years ago. Paintings, art work, photographic exhibitions, sculptures, quilts. Every Féile has had unique and very striking examples of the visual arts.

Robert Ballagh, a long standing friend of Féile exhibited his remarkable work here. So did Jim Fitzpatrick and many, many others. Some of the exhibitions are of times past. A good example of that this year is the exhibition about Belfast dockers. And there is Gerry Collins Bombay Street photos. And work by irish women artists.

There is also an exhibition by the families of the eleven people killed in Ballymurphy between the 9th and the 11th of August 1971 when the British government introduced internment.

These families are looking for:

• An Independent international investigation examining all of the circumstances surrounding all of the deaths

• The British government to issue a statement of innocence and a public apology.

This blog will return to this campaign at some other time but if you are interested in contacting 'The 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre Committee' email

Their exhibition drew me in to looking at the photographs of the victims and other artefacts from that time. My attention was taken by a handwritten statement. The writing looked vaguely familiar. It was my mothers! It was a complaint which she had handwritten against the British Army a few days after internment.

We lived at 11 Divismore Park at that time. The house had been targeted by the British Army constantly. Indeed they used to run their heavily armoured Saladin and Saracen cars against the walls of the house. A combination of that and the bad design and structure meant that the house was demolished and there is a shop where once we used to live.

I remember when I was a child; perhaps 7 or 8 accompanying her as she lobbied local political representatives for a house. Since she and my father married they and our growing family had lived with other family members or in a private rented tenement. A number of other families shared this slum with us.

Eventually she succeeded in getting allocated a house in Ballymurphy and she and my Granny went there one day to view the site. I was with them and I recall as we walked across the building site one of the workmen showing her where her new home would be.
In August 9th 1971 I watched the Paratroopers raid our home. I was in Springhill Avenue. My father and one of my younger brothers were among the several hundred men from across the north arrested that morning. I hadn't slept at home since 1969, except for the odd night.

All of this came back to me as I read her statement. It is here for your perusal. My mother's matter-of-fact account of the behaviour of the British Army says it better than anything I could write about what she and other women put up with.

The damage to the house was so bad during that internment raid that my mother moved out - never to return again. She's dead now but she often used to say that 11 Divismore Park was the place in which she was happiest.


Mr Reality said...

Thanks for sharing that with us Gerry. It serves as a simely reminder of the huge sacrifices made by the women, especially the mothers, in bringing us to where we are today. They were tough times Gerry and those letters are the proof of it.
It reminds me of the poem Patrick Pearse wrote the night before his execution by firing squad.
His brother Willie was executed some days later.

The Mother

I do not grudge them: Lord, I do not grudge
My two strong sons that I have seen go out
To break their strength and die, they and a few,
In bloody protest for a glorious thing,
They shall be spoken of among their people,
The generations shall remember them,
And call them blessed;
But I will speak their names to my own heart
In the long nights;
The little names that were familiar once
Round my dead hearth.
Lord, thou art hard on mothers:
We suffer in their coming and their going;
And tho' I grudge them not, I weary, weary
Of the long sorrow - And yet I have my joy:
My sons were faithful, and they fought.
-- Patrick H. Pearse

Says it all really, Gerry.

Maria said...

Mr. Adams,

That post was heartbreaking.

I imagine that statement was difficult for you to read.

Your mom must have been a very brave and strong woman. I'm sure you have wonderful memories of her.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry, Your mom sounded like a wonderful women who was not intimidated by the brits and I loved the fact that she wrote about the proclamation being damaged. Not only did the bastards destroy your homes they then tried to say it was caused by the B specials. May they all burn in eternity. E.F.

Paul Doran said...


Please do us a favour and stop talking about maybe doing deals with FG or supporting a Coalition Government it is doing untold damage in Dubin.You need to be talking about working with progressive movements and getting the left vote from Labour , there are many in that party not happy with thier lot. Concentrate on 2 things, Working people politics and Unity.No More talk about Coalition Please

Micheal said...

Thank's for posting that report Gerry. It truly is a shocking reminder of what people had to endure at the hands of the unionist state and the british army.

By writing that report, your mother shows why the British just could not defeat the Irish people anywhere in Ireland and that is because they clubbed together.

As she said, 200 neigbours got up and came out. They were witness to the events.

In peace-time the systemic mechanisms of division kick in again.

Democracy is the name of the game now. And politics is the art of achieving the impossible.

nikki g said...

thanks for sharing and my hubby just home from our first féile trip...such dedication to making sure that families participate,made me think of how republican women today are still putting family first. If only the dublin government would read the consitution and cherish each child equally..go raibh míle do na dhaoine cairdiúl i gculturlann,..lean leis do blog a chara!

Timothy Dougherty said...

Gerry that is a story, I don't know how to comment on this. I just like to say how I stand behind the The 1971 Ballymurphy Massacre Committee and the just cause, a entity of real action for advancing the principle to the bring the British Army to Justice for the 9th and 11th of August 1971 killings. I join you in commemorating the victims of the Ballymurphy Massacre. In Operation Demetrius What they did not include was a single Loyalist. Although the UVF had begun the killing and bombing, this organisation was left untouched, as were other violent Loyalist,such was internment.

gerry K said...

great post cara and always a joy to read. hope all well with you and yours, my wee Seán is thriving.

best from Limerick from exiled dub.

Gerry K