New Photographs Of Paddy Joe (PJ) Crawford

Ed Moloney with some photos and commentary on Paddy Joe Crawford. The piece initially featured in his blog The Broken Elbow on 1 January 2014 and captured shots of a reunion event of orphaned children. An additional photo was provided by Mick Browne.

I am grateful to the family of one of Paddy Joe Crawford’s fellow orphans for the following photographs of the 22-year-old who was hanged to death by fellow IRA inmates in Cage Five of Long Kesh internment camp in June 1973.

As readers of this blog will know the IRA lied to the world about how and why PJ, as he was known to friends, died. The false story was circulated that he had committed suicide but the reality, an open secret in IRA circles, was that he had been sentenced to death without any due process for the alleged offence of breaking during interrogation. The truth was finally revealed in Brendan Hughes’ interviews with Boston College and published in 2010.

I recently wrote on this blog about a song that had been written about Crawford’s murder by Belfast songwriter Dave Thompson and reproduced his Mass card with the comment that this might be the only photograph of the dead man in existence. That prompted the son of a man who had been in two orphanages with PJ to email me to correct my mistake and generously offer to send me a couple of the photos of him in his possession. My thanks to him and his family.

The photos were taken at reunions in 1971/72 of boys who had been brought up by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth at the Nazareth Lodge in South Belfast and the De La Salle home run by the Christian Brothers in Kircubbin, Co. Down.

Paddy Joe Crawford wearing a knitted vest
Paddy Joe Crawford wearing a knitted vest

PJ, standing far left
PJ, standing far left

pj crawford


  1. I find these photographs gutwrenchingly sad & after reading the lst article on his life on the Quill I couldn’t stop thinking about him. . Patrick Joseph Crawford was betrayed on multiple levels throughout his life. I wonder what atrocities he suffered in Catholic care – I have a fair idea experientially … De La Salle… Sisters of the Poor… These institutions were sanitized torture chambers with rigidity of indoctrination at its helm. A feast on young children’s psyches whilst the big sickly sweet white false version of Jesus looked down from the cross . A curse was on all these institutions and a curse be on Ireland for allowing them - I digress...

    What I most want to say is this: NOTHING is more tragic than the very one’s he called comrades/brothers betraying him/chose to kill him for an example… They are filth It is so horrendous to think of his last minutes on this earth… He deserved so much more and is worthy of respect and remembrance. To those chafing at the bit to engage in militant resistance – remember P J Crawford. Because violence brings psychopaths to the fore/helm… Has not Adams shown u how it rolls or u r that thick u think stuff like this will not happen again… Green book adherence my arse It was psychopathic war crime of the worse kind. Thanks to ed moloney and mick browne & co for fotos…

  2. thank you Mary Marscal, i think he will always be remembered and respected. always, thanks to Bos Col and all those involved i suppose. time for republicans to put it up to the militants and stop showing them this grudging respect and admiration they get. They are more riddled than the ra were back in the 70's. Sick of their crap now. i live in the west of ireland and a young neighbour who tried to start his own business lately got threatened by these extortionist cowards and losers . no business anymore. id hate to think what its like up the road. im sick to death of these embarrassing bastards who dare call themselves republicans. they have extorted enough money since they started to invade a small african country. im getting to the stage now where i dont giv a fuk about the prisoners. someone is going to write a book someday about how not to fight against imperialism and use us as an example.

  3. Grouch,

    I am disappointed that you have reached the point, or are getting to it, that you couldn't give a damn about the prisoners. I think when that happens people have to sit up and take notice.

    I wrote to five different prisoners today, all of them in Roe House, Maghaberry. It dismays me that I am still writing to prisoners after all these years and to more of them than I am accustomed to writing to. I don't share their views on matters but old friendships still mean something. And instinctively I always side with the prisoners.

    I hope you change your view but something has sickened you so much that you seem to have had a bellyful.

  4. Sadness and vulnerability just run right through this mans story.
    It's good that his life is remembered even if it is mostly for all the wrong reasons!

  5. the genuine people ALWAYS end up behind bars, the scumbags rarely do and its them tarnishing the prisoners, they are kept on on the outside to continue their 'work'. i told my neighbour to tell them he will pay them every week gladly when they mount a military campaign against the enemy. he has no business now and i am fuc*ing fuming. a nicer apolitical irish lad u wud not meet. born not long before ceasefire. these guys are pathetic. imagine what my neighbour thinks of present day militant republicans. But certain old provos and their band of merry men have set the bar for all racketeers. very high and very low. any prisoner who reads this and is pissed off im sorry. I wouldn’t even let a lad on the run stay under my roof now as even though he might be a committed republican the fact of the matter is I know now (thanks to net) that the chances of his gun being tracked, his mobile being continually monitored and triangulated (even if he gets a new one every day), his ‘comrade’ who comes to pick him up being an agent, his background and his family’s background being researched for anything worth blackmailing and most of all his oc being a tout – are not working in his (or her) favor.and im not being paranoid i am just saying it like it is (and was as we now know). and they taped the last confessions of dying hunger strikers. These aren’t my only reasons. The main reason for me now is that it is futile, immoral and serves the enemy. One thing is for sure – if every young volunteer knew exactly what was going on even way back in the early 70’s in terms of surveillance technology and the amount of agents and informers in their ranks they would have second thoughts. The sad truth is that our enemy is more than happy with a certain level of violence. It suits them on many fronts despite what the politicians may say in public. Republicans must face up to how dirty the war was and admit that there is no level the securocrats will not stoop to to keep us where they want us. Father Faul used to get stick from some of us when he used to try and dissuade youngsters from joining the IRA back in the day by telling them that some day they would find out that their oc and their oc’s oc were touts while they were languishing in prison. Sadly he was proved right. Some of those agents and touts were there for ten, twenty and thirty years and some haven’t gone away. Sometimes not fighting is braver and smarter than fighting. And i hate the fact im losing faith Anthony but thats the way it is now with me. the military war is over. the information war has begun but not in ireland yet sadly. theres a part of me thinks if we were taken over by aliens there would still be lads gunning for a psni man. p.s. i want all pows released. that wont happen unless they and us on the outside get our heads and hearts together. never mind this unity of the left in a previous blog - im not hangin around with ming, urman in the pink shirt and his bird, i want republican unity and i want pows out by Easter 2016. And a mural to Paddy Joe too. On one of the streets that he defended the people and attacked the might of the Brits. sorry for long message but i am fed up.

  6. Grouch,

    they are your views and while not what some people might want to hear you are right to express them. There is an enormous amount of what you say simply on the money. Some of the prisoners will be upset but others will take the view that you have grounds for thinking as you do and are right to vent your thoughts on the matter.

    While I am disappointed that your patience has been pushed to the limit I have not the slightest intention of being critical of you. Rather than that it is more important to learn how such a state of thinking came to be. And you have explained it pretty well.

  7. anthony,
    republicanism should not revolve around the prisoners, im sure they'd agree. i was one myself albeit on remand for a short time so im not a complete bluffer on this. thankfully the judge said i was innocent and i was saved a stretch. looking back now i think i was innocent! the prisoners showed the world how resilient they were, u were one of them. and they are now too but its a different world now. even the most hardened republican families i know both north and south have no appetite if thats the right word for armed struggle. its like history repeating - first time tragedy second time farce as the fella said. a lot of the 'hard' men back in the day turned out to be gangsters operating in plain view of security forces on both sides of the border and as it turned out in the end, they didnt hav a republican bone in their bodies. looking back now some of the hardest lads i ever knew were the lads who went around the pubs selling the paper in shoneen towns like mine. and i mean that. and they were the ones the 'hard' men often looked down on. we have to get real. i am angry coz theres a gang of thugs posing as republicans going around the town i now live in DISGRACING every thing we believe in. And they are using the prisoners too. it was a dirty war and it is a dirtier 'peace'. i believe in the irish republic established in 1916 and i dont care if i upset brave people who are behind bars tonight. its the cowards and bullies(they are there and let no one deny it) on the outside that have to be confronted and for want of a better word 'decommissioned' and i think the prisoners and genuine people on the outside have something to do on that front. we have the right to defend ourselves. That is an absolute. But we dont have the right to continually wage war just because we arent happy with the current situation. As long as the armed factions keep going the collaborators in PSF will get stronger and stronger. They are scared shitless of republicanism in my opinion and as long as there isnt a viable alternative to them things will stagnate further. Decomissioning the militants might mean decommissioning Provisional Sinn Fein and that wil be a good day for republicanism on this island. Wage peace prisoners.

  8. It seems all the sadder if it could get any sadder that all is left of this young man’s life is a few photos that seem to show him smiling through all the adversity that his young life faced alone.
    Perhaps more meaningful to those that held onto this all but forgotten man it would be difficult to believe such a warm smile of someone who would have little to smile about considering his lot in his short life would end his own life.

    The smile would suggest that he may have had little in the way we take for granted but he had much to live for.
    A victim of belonging to that which would commit the ultimate betrayal on this very out of place prisoner a simple victim with none to ask for truth and justice and perhaps the bloodthirsty cowards will come forward and admit they murdered the man.

    The leadership should come clean on this lonely brutal slaying if for no other reason than to give this forgotten man the dignity and respect he deserves.
    He was robbed so much in life but to be left in the cold ground under Provo lies is despicable beyond evil.

    For those who know the truth take a moment before you exit the world and leave a note vindicating this very sad and tragic young man give him back the dignity he deserves.

  9. i think he is vindicated tain bo, but yes a note or something would be the ideal. take a huge amount of courage

  10. @ Grouch Just to let you know he wont be forgotten in Australia either I put this article up on scribd and also will have this on display in a book format later in the year at an Irish language art exhibition here in sydney . I want all young third and fourth generation Irish to know his name who he is what he stood for and what was done to him. Dunno how to insert link so u just click on it. Too old and dumb to learn how now lol but heres the link and if it don’t work just google up the info slan PS I am a christian too but john coulters vision for Ireland I think is not feasible and smells very masonicy War in the spirit realm war in the world…. We r in psychological warfare primarily too


    If link don’t work Google
    Scribd mhairemarscal t√Čireannach Patrick Joseph Crawford - the murder of.

  11. Mary, i'm going to check that out now. I first heard of Paddy Joe only a few months ago, it was either here or the broken elbow, i couldnt get it out of my head for ages. i checked google image for a photo but none there, i wanted to put a face on him. i reckoned there was a possibility there mightnt even be a foto of him in existence. he didnt leave my thoughts for ages . then over christmas ed moloney put up his mass card. i will never forget seeing that smiling face. its amazing what a foto can do. ed has put up some more of him. same beautiful smiling face. the few stories of him fit the face - standing up for the younger more vulnerable kids and minding them in the orphanages - his concern for people being burnt out of homes - the fact he defended his area valiantly. it is the most tragic and twisted death/murder imaginable. i believe in a God who communicates with the living and the dead. I believe Paddy Joe will never be forgotten. good on you Mary, i will go to that link now.

  12. Grouch,

    I feel much the same way it is a haunting story one were the ending is nothing short of barbaric.
    I wonder will one of those who lynched him do the decent thing and even it is at the end of their days a note would go a long way on clearing this young tortured life.
    They would have nothing to lose and would give the man the dignity he deserves.

  13. that would be a a huge help tain bo, another thing, the masscard for paddy joe that surfaced over the christmas - the first line of the prayer reads "Lord, make me an instrument of your Peace" - i believe Paddy Joe is an instrument of peace now, and anyone who could help with a note would be an instrument of peace. am going up to milltown as soon as i get a bit of work to light a candle.


  14. Grouch,

    I never thought about it in that light but it makes sense. I feel enough time has passed for those who know the truth to do the decent thing and tell the truth.
    All they have to do is take a look at that smiling face and let the truth be told.
    This young man was no enemy of Ireland he was a victim.

    I hope you make the journey and if you do you might consider sharing the experience here on the Quill a quiet tribute that will keep his untold narrative alive.

  15. They know who took this young mans life and you asked yourself why ? I was rear with Paddy Joe under the care of the Nazareth Sisters of Nazareth Lodge and he was with that ever big smile a protector of his fellow orphans. The once so deep snow in winter 63 of him carrying a young boy to school will always be remembered.

    Only two people ever after thirty odd years knew Paddy Joe was killed by so call fellow comrades, the much loved Fr Matt Wallace and Gerry McCann. Paddy Joe will always be remembered a true son of Ireland.