Guest writer Nuala Perry with a letter on behalf of Clonard Commemoration Committee.
Gerard O Callaghan
On Sunday the 2nd of September Clonard Commemoration Committee will hold a short remembrance ceremony for the seventieth anniversary of C Company Volunteers Gerard O Callaghan and Tom Williams.

This event is totally non-party political and is designed with nothing other in mind than a short dedication to both these young men's lives.

Tom Williams
On Monday the 31st of August the Irish News carried the headline which informed a shocked Nationalist community that 19 year old Tom Williams was to be executed. His comrades D. Cordiner, J. Perry, J.Oliver and J. Cahill were given life sentences; P.Simpson was given a 15-year sentence. The community was in shock. International pressure had demanded a reprieve for all six men who had been sentenced to death on August the 1st for the killing of Constable Patrick Murphy.

On August 20th an appeal was lodged against the death sentences. On August the 22nd their appeal against the sentence of death for all six was turned down.

On August the 24th the Northern Irish Prime Minister (Mr M Andrews) and the Minister of Home Affairs (Sir Dawson Bates) refused to meet a deputation from Nationalist MPs and Senators which would have urged them to recommend the reprieve of the six Belfast youths under sentence of death for the killing of Constable Murphy on Easter Sunday.

On Saturday morning Desmond Marrinan solicitor for the condemned men handed to the Ministry reprieve forms containing more than 200,000 signatures. On Friday morning Mr Marrinan visited the condemned men in Crumlin Road Prison to tell them their appeal had failed.

According to the solicitor, all of the men remained totally calm expressing anxiety only for parents and friends.

On August 29th with the execution date looming all six still remained under sentence of death. Then on August 31st the solicitor for the six Desmond Marrinan had the unenviable and horrendous task of breaking the sad news, that five would be reprieved and that Tom Williams their 19 year old commander was to be executed.

The condemned men's solicitor D.P. Marrinan stated at the time that Williams received the news with silence. When the others embraced him and expressed their sorrow. He said: 'don't worry about me I am alright.'

Those sentenced with Tom were inconsolable as were his comrades also housed within the confines of the Crumlin Road Jail. The next morning as the sadness swept over the prison wings and spilled out into the communities another tragedy was unfolding.

The news of Gerard O Callaghan's execution reached the Crumlin Prison hours after the news of Tom's verdict. The news would bring further devastation to the men just reprieved and beyond. Gerard had been a comrade and for some of the men a close personal friend.

The murder of Gerard O Callaghan also sent shock waves through the Republican and Nationalist community who were sad and embittered at hearing the news that one young 19-year old was about to be executed, only to be told another 19-year old volunteer from the same company had been executed that very morning.

Gerard O Callaghan had been a loved and well-respected comrade and a dedicated C Company Volunteer. On Monday the 31st of August Gerard had went to and I.R.A dump in Hannahstown to assemble some of the arms for use.

During the course of his duty he was suddenly surprised be an RUC raid. Shots rang out and several hours later the discarded body of Gerard O Callaghan was found totally riddled and covered in bruises.

Few believed the cover-up story, that when disturbed Gerard had greeted his RUC killers armed with a Thompson machine gun.

Gerard O Callaghan's family were refused an inquest into the circumstances of his death. The order to prohibit an inquest into the horrific execution came from Stormont Minister of Home Affairs, the same man who had refused to hear an appeal against Tom William's sentence of death.

Tom William's paid the ultimate price. Gerard O Callaghan died whilst preparing to dispatch weapons throughout the North in the hope of preventing him paying that price.

It would almost 60 years before the C Company volunteers were to be eventually re-united in Milltown cemetery.

All we ask out of respect for these volunteers is that Republicans take the time to come out and remember them.

All gather Milltown Cemetery gates 12-30. Speaker Clonard Commemoration Chairperson Albert Allen.

Volunteers Gerard O Callaghan and Tom Williams to be Remembered

Guest writer Nuala Perry with a letter on behalf of Clonard Commemoration Committee.
Gerard O Callaghan
On Sunday the 2nd of September Clonard Commemoration Committee will hold a short remembrance ceremony for the seventieth anniversary of C Company Volunteers Gerard O Callaghan and Tom Williams.

This event is totally non-party political and is designed with nothing other in mind than a short dedication to both these young men's lives.

Tom Williams
On Monday the 31st of August the Irish News carried the headline which informed a shocked Nationalist community that 19 year old Tom Williams was to be executed. His comrades D. Cordiner, J. Perry, J.Oliver and J. Cahill were given life sentences; P.Simpson was given a 15-year sentence. The community was in shock. International pressure had demanded a reprieve for all six men who had been sentenced to death on August the 1st for the killing of Constable Patrick Murphy.

On August 20th an appeal was lodged against the death sentences. On August the 22nd their appeal against the sentence of death for all six was turned down.

On August the 24th the Northern Irish Prime Minister (Mr M Andrews) and the Minister of Home Affairs (Sir Dawson Bates) refused to meet a deputation from Nationalist MPs and Senators which would have urged them to recommend the reprieve of the six Belfast youths under sentence of death for the killing of Constable Murphy on Easter Sunday.

On Saturday morning Desmond Marrinan solicitor for the condemned men handed to the Ministry reprieve forms containing more than 200,000 signatures. On Friday morning Mr Marrinan visited the condemned men in Crumlin Road Prison to tell them their appeal had failed.

According to the solicitor, all of the men remained totally calm expressing anxiety only for parents and friends.

On August 29th with the execution date looming all six still remained under sentence of death. Then on August 31st the solicitor for the six Desmond Marrinan had the unenviable and horrendous task of breaking the sad news, that five would be reprieved and that Tom Williams their 19 year old commander was to be executed.

The condemned men's solicitor D.P. Marrinan stated at the time that Williams received the news with silence. When the others embraced him and expressed their sorrow. He said: 'don't worry about me I am alright.'

Those sentenced with Tom were inconsolable as were his comrades also housed within the confines of the Crumlin Road Jail. The next morning as the sadness swept over the prison wings and spilled out into the communities another tragedy was unfolding.

The news of Gerard O Callaghan's execution reached the Crumlin Prison hours after the news of Tom's verdict. The news would bring further devastation to the men just reprieved and beyond. Gerard had been a comrade and for some of the men a close personal friend.

The murder of Gerard O Callaghan also sent shock waves through the Republican and Nationalist community who were sad and embittered at hearing the news that one young 19-year old was about to be executed, only to be told another 19-year old volunteer from the same company had been executed that very morning.

Gerard O Callaghan had been a loved and well-respected comrade and a dedicated C Company Volunteer. On Monday the 31st of August Gerard had went to and I.R.A dump in Hannahstown to assemble some of the arms for use.

During the course of his duty he was suddenly surprised be an RUC raid. Shots rang out and several hours later the discarded body of Gerard O Callaghan was found totally riddled and covered in bruises.

Few believed the cover-up story, that when disturbed Gerard had greeted his RUC killers armed with a Thompson machine gun.

Gerard O Callaghan's family were refused an inquest into the circumstances of his death. The order to prohibit an inquest into the horrific execution came from Stormont Minister of Home Affairs, the same man who had refused to hear an appeal against Tom William's sentence of death.

Tom William's paid the ultimate price. Gerard O Callaghan died whilst preparing to dispatch weapons throughout the North in the hope of preventing him paying that price.

It would almost 60 years before the C Company volunteers were to be eventually re-united in Milltown cemetery.

All we ask out of respect for these volunteers is that Republicans take the time to come out and remember them.

All gather Milltown Cemetery gates 12-30. Speaker Clonard Commemoration Chairperson Albert Allen.

33 comments:

  1. I re-posted this in the Rushlight.
    Sadly to say, but most of today's younger generation would not have heard of these brave men, unless they came from a staunch republican educated family.

    I credited the letter to Nuala Perry and quoted the source site as the TPQ.am, full link address given to this page.

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  2. I think its totally commendable that Clonard Republicans will be properly commemorating these two courageous Volunteers - full marks to the Committee!

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  3. Dead volunteers pose difficulites to some of those who have come to prominence as a result of their actions, efforts and sacrifices.

    Mayor refuses to comment on letter from IRA man’s family

    Is it any wonder he refused to comment – what could he say?

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  4. Nuala,

    Maith ThĂș!

    The irony is that if these guys were alive today they would be castigated as members of micro groups by the very people who would commemorate them and use them for their own ends. Imagine trying to tell people that Tom Williams and Gerard O Callaghan died for Stormont.

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  5. Mackers
    That's it in a nutshell. SF are unable to let go whilst at the same time condemning others for trying to continue what they cannot let go of...so funny.

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  6. Anthony,

    no comment is proof enough volunteers did not die or go to jail for Stormont. Siding with silence and denial has become a standard for SF. Any hint of their former ways seems to induce loss of memory.

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  7. Nuala,

    “non-party political and is designed with nothing other in mind than a short dedication to both these young men's lives.”

    A thoughtful tribute and it should be free of politics and viewed by republicans as a dignified remembrance.

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  8. itsjustmacker,
    Thanks for that, it's just nice sometimes that they are remembered.

    Ardoyne Republican,
    Clonard Commemoration Committee do their best to remember all the dead from Clonard.
    I am not a member of the committee but I fully support this type of commemoration, provided it is kept to just that.

    Mackers,
    I think they know they are decidely out of step with those they commemorate.
    All the spin in the world cannot square that circle.
    Both these volunteers mean so much to Clonard.
    I think it would be nice if their sacrifice was everyone's focus the day.

    Tain Bo,
    I hope so to. I really hope our little splintered area can come together just to quietly remember.

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  9. My late uncle patsy 'leo' McGuigan was a close friend and comrade of tom williams,and i have fond memories of the stories he told me about him and tom, R.I.P.

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  10. Mackers,
    There is a terrible irony attached to the whole scenario of this type of commemoration.
    But what is the alternative? Clonard Commemoration Committee is essentially made up of members of Sinn Fein.
    Which begs the question, where does it leave the rest of us in Clonard can we not commemorate our dead?
    At a recent commemoration for a C Company volunteer lots of Republicans turned and walked away when Pat Sheehan got up to speak.
    Personally I thought Pat was perfectly within his rights to speak.
    He was a former member of C Company and a lifelong comrade of the volunteer being commemorated.
    My problem with Pat's speech was, nearing the end he began to speak about human rights abuse.
    It was almost pitiful, listening to this apparently well educated person, speak about human rights abuse in the abstract.
    It sounded like, 'Let's fight someone elses corner save us looking at the unsavoury mess which is our own.'
    Anyway that's Pat's problem, no doubt he felt awkward having to cringe himself through his own pre-set perameters, but I would still defend his right to speak.
    Sean Murray will be chairing the event on Sunday.
    Has he the right? Well, he is a founder member of the committee but people will have to make up their own minds in relation to that one.

    joearsenal_1972.
    Bet there are some interesting stories, maybe we will get to hear them sometime?


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  11. Spike would be more suited to chairing a commemoration up in roselawn or carmoney if you were to listen to his constant pro brit rheotric , than over the graves of honourable and brave west belfast irish republicans.DISGRACE.

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  12. Nuala,

    There are always alternatives but whether they are plausible or satisfactory is another matter. I personally would not want to listen to the Workers Party claim Bobby Sands or the other volunteers who died. And if it was the only show in town I think I would stay at home. But that is a purely personal viewpoint and is no aspersion on others who make the decision to go.

    The people of Clonard who do not buy into the SF narrative can commemorate their dead without turning up at a SF photoshot. For those who decide to go they should be free to do so. People will probably stand at tomorrow’s commemoration with clenched teeth thinking that they cannot identify with a word of what is being spouted; they will know that were Tom and Gerard alive today they would be called criminals and members of micro groups by those honouring them because what they did is now safely in the past. But they will still attend because they can in their own minds separate out from the guff being spoken their own feelings.

    ‘At a recent commemoration for a C Company volunteer lots of Republicans turned and walked away when Pat Sheehan got up to speak.’

    Because Pat’s party would be calling for people to inform to the British on the same people today.

    ‘Personally I thought Pat was perfectly within his rights to speak.’

    But people are perfectly within their rights not to listen. I think if I was to turn up in the full knowledge that some SF merchant was going to speak I would not turn my back. I would only be going to protest SF and not honour the vol was I to turn my back. But for those who feel it is important to both honour the dead and protest against those who they feel betrayed the same dead, it is their prerogative.

    ‘He was a former member of C Company and a lifelong comrade of the volunteer.’

    I like Seamus Lynch but I doubt I would value him speaking at commemorations for Joe McCann even if both were comrades back in the day. It lacks propriety in my view. If he stuck to saying ‘I am here to honour Joe because I knew him as a friend but I have since moved on. He and I would no longer politically identify ...’ then it would be different. But if he were to get up and say ‘I stand in the same tradition as Joe who died so that Eamonn Gilmore and Pat Rabbitte could screw the most deprived ...’ that causes problems.

    ‘My problem with Pat's speech was, nearing the end he began to speak about human rights abuse.’

    Nuala, that is all career speak. Pat has chosen to make a political career. He made the choice a long time ago, while he was still in jail. He would regularly visit me in jail and when he went in and I got out I would frequently visit him. We were close. When he got back out he never once rang or called to my house. He knew a political career was not best served by association with me. I thought in personal terms it was a lousy thing to do. And he was uncomfortable when I challenged him on it. How he stands with those people who made his life so hard irks me. But for all that I like the guy, would yarn with him anytime I see him and would not get into the business of ranting at him. It is what it is. These things happen.

    ‘Sean Murray will be chairing the event on Sunday. Has he the right?’

    Perhaps a more relevant question is: has he the decency to stand back and not do it? The blood of these dead vols is being siphoned off and is being used to fuel an entirely different project.

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  13. My Da was a friend of John (Sean Terence) Oliver's back in the day. Does anyone know what happened to him and is the current Sean Oliver any relation?

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  14. Great post Nuala ,sorry its late in saying so,I disagree with both yourself and Anthony re Spike,Pat and Seamus Lynch,these people gave up any rights to call themselves republicans no matter what their past history was once they became employees of the British state they became as British as Finchley I dont think Tom Williams or Gerard O Callaghan would be honoured to be in any of their companys.

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    Replies
    1. If you're from occupied ulster and work then you're an employee of the british state. Think before you speak.

      Delete
  15. Marty,

    I am not actually sure what I said that you disagree with.

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  16. Anthony sorry a cara I was reading through the posts much to quickly, I interpreted some of Nuala,s comments as yours,again I apologise .

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  17. Marty,
    I think your off beam here!
    I think I said people could make up their own minds in relation to Spike.

    I can stand over anything I said in relation to Pat Sheehan.
    He spoke as a former comrade of the person being commemorated.
    Realistically who should of been asked? Someone who knew the former volunteer in vague terms or someone who risked their lives outside and inside prison with him.
    I have issues with Pat, issues that he only too aware of.

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  18. historybuff,
    John (Sean Oliver) died quite a few years back.
    I got to know him reasonably well and I was so grateful to have met him.
    He was quite an unassuming and unique man.
    I have no idea if Sean is connected to him but I am sure I can find out.

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  19. I know none of can speak for the departed Nuala hon but I,m remain of the opinion that no true republican would want a turn coat speak for them in any context,do you think your father would ?

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  20. Marty,

    I think it is a question of how people feel. I know a few still with the Shinners that I would not be upset about. Differing with them politically does not rule out all personal touches. Not too long ago they were plying me with drink and I was not refusing!

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  21. Antnony you a cara were in a position to retain your opinion and respect,those dead volunteers are not. I think it is not necessary to honour our dead by speeches ,quiet reflection speaks volumes to me and anyway why give a platform to treacherous comrades and their weasel words,FF claim to be republicans yet they probably killed as many true republicans as did the black and tans, I see qsf as the new Broy harriers,and the decent among their ranks are becoming fewer as the days go by,

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  22. Marty,
    On that day he was speaking as a former friend and comrade of the dead volunteer.
    The family wanted Pat to speak and I for one did not have a problem with him speaking.
    People began to walk away and that is their entitlement.
    I stood because I believed that the speech was relevant to a very different time for all of us.
    If someone can come on here and tell me who is better placed to speak for former C Company volunteers then I would be very interested.
    As I said in an earlier post I have issues with Pat and he is very aware of what I think of his stance.
    That does not detract from the fact, he is one of the very few that could have provided that type of factual and relveant account on the day.


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  23. Former being the operative word here Nuala a cara, add an in and we are up to date,weasel words are all these people can use,for surely they dont say what they mean or mean what they say, Adams latest outburst in congratulating the garda on their raids of republican homes is the latest in their treacherous path to power,no words are needed for C company PIRA their actions speak for themselves.I know where you stand here a cara but I find these people and their treachery to much,as Anthony pointed out they wouldnt hesitate to disappear us in the morning if it suits,they are yesterdays men let them stay there ..

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  24. i watched spike in rasharkin stand with the psni/ruc officer in charge of pushing a sectarian march through the village and point republicans out who traveled to the village to support the residents,the same officer 1hr earlier had been in charge of trailing/ripping every republican car apart that went into the village.
    i could go on and on about this mans anti-republican behaviour that i witness every summer at ardoyne,springfield rd,rasharkin,short strand etc so i think that people have a right to be upset when they see him running around a tom willams commemoration with a loud-healer as ive he is a republican.
    personally i think it is disgusting!!!

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  25. As sure as there is shit on Martyboys shirttail those who really run this place will reward those who so willingly betrayed their community,at the moment they have a role to play but if come the day that role becomes irrelevant,then I,m sure spike ,Pat et all will get a quare gunk,if they are unable to help in the suppression of a risen people,then that gunk may come sooner than later..

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  26. Marty,
    You still have answered my question about who should have spoke?
    You were not there, you don't know what he said.
    Of course his recollections were genuine, if they were not I think we might have noticed.
    Adams has nothing to do with this, nor has what he said in Dublin.
    It was Pat speaking at a volunteers commemoration, not Tom's or Gerard's another volunteer.
    I am really interested in knowing who else should have spoke?

    Treehugger,
    At this particular commem Spike was among the missing.

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  27. Nuala I believe that I did answer your question 11.03 Sept 14."no words needed etc" anything Pat has to say is tainted with the sound of quisling $inn £ein no matter how genuine the delivery,I certainly would have no interest in hearing anything from him or his cronies other than they got it badly wrong.what you and others do is entirely your choice.

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  28. Marty,
    We will never have a meeting of minds on this.
    I think we are both coming to it from very different experiences, which sometimes defines logic much more than logic defines experience.

    On a lighter note: I got a bigger slice of cake than Marie last night.
    Victory sometimes can be quite unexpected and be found in very odd places.

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  29. LOL Nuala,, hon Marie is ripping it. as for meeting of minds ,while I may disagree with you on many things I can assure you that I hold in in the utmost respect and value your opinion, your honesty and integrity is an inspiration to us all. now any chance of a bit of that cake?p.s did you ever see a pile of ribs disappear so fast in all your life,if eating was an olympic event then Kate and Eve would be gold medal certs.

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  30. Marty,
    Vultures would have been less forward.
    Marie is of the opinion her cake was cut with a blade.
    I think the slices depended more on alcohol intake.
    Good day in Dublin though, followed by a brilliant night.

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  31. Nuala hon the Millenium spire the nicknames for it which I could not recall are The Nail In The Pale,Stilleto In The Getto,and the Stiffy In The Liffey, agreed about the day,and the turnout,and the vultures,mind you I would pity any vulture that got between that pair and food.

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