Padraic Mac Coitir met an old friend from the Blanket on one of his danders. 

Yesterday my danders took me far and wide and I ended up in the north of this fine city. It was strange walking past watering holes that are now closed but thankfully some stayed open. In one such place I bumped into a few people I hadn't seen in ages and as we were enjoying pints of Guinness in walked the boul Paddy McGrandles. Paddy is one of life's characters and would bring a smile to anyone's gob - yes even mine!

He joined our company and even though we were having the best of craic he had us in stitches with stories from gaol. Obviously there were quiet moments when talking about serious events such as the hunger strike.

Paddy had just turned 17 in April 76 when he was taken to Castlereagh interrogation centre. For anyone going there for the first time it can be scary because it was well known the peelers tortured people. Ok it wasn't like Abu Ghraib but a torture centre it definitely was. After ensuring a hard time he was taken to Townhall courthouse and remanded to Crumlin Road gaol. 

In those days we were put in the back of a closed-in Transit van and when Paddy was put in handcuffed a number of older men joined him. Tension was very high because of fighting between our lads and unionist gangsters in the Crum. The other men just looked at Paddy and after a bit of questioning they all relaxed. They asked Paddy what he was charged with and when he told them they said he'll get a hard time from the screws. This made Paddy even more nervous so when he went into reception - yes, that's the fancy name they have in prison where prisoners are stripped, told to bath and get their photo taken - the screws gave him a lot of verbal abuse. Instead of being kept in B wing for one night he was he was kept four nights before being moved to C Wing.

Once on that wing he started to feel better and being one of the younger prisoners he got a lot of stick from older lads, especially some who'd been interned with his da.

He was sentenced in December 76 and immediately joined the blanket protest but he was kept in a separate wing from the other lads until just before Xmas. The screws were cruel bastards and one in particular called Jack Todd would regularly go into the cell and give Paddy a beating. Many of us got the same from the scumbag.

I was sentenced in January 77 and ended up on the same wing as Paddy. His was the first friendly voice I heard when he shouted out the window and called for me to get up on the pipes and tell him a bit about myself. I was crapping myself but he told me not to worry. The first time we saw each other was when we we stood outside our doors on the Sunday as we waited to go to mass in another wing. We couldn't speak but just nodded and smiled. That was the only time we wore prison trousers and the rest of the time whether slopping out, going for our grub or the odd time to see the doctor we would go down the wings naked. Paddy was telling us of the time he burnt his balls - it could only happen to him! When going into the canteen for his dinner he stretched across the hotplate for a bowl of dessert coz it had more in it than the others and he forgot how hot it was!

In April we were moved from H-2 to H-5 and with so many of us our morale rose and we would shout out the doors, have sing songs, quizzes and Irish classes. Paddy was in his element and was the life and soul of the wing. I was moved to another wing in July and that was the last I'd see Paddy until three or four years ago and I've met him a couple of times since then. 

So if any of you ever meet Paddy ask him to tell you yarns about the time he was on the wing with Kieran Doherty and Larry Marley. I've said to Paddy to get it all down on paper because although times were very hard there were many funny times and with characters like Paddy we could endure the blanket and no-wash protests that little bit better.


Padraic Mac Coitir is a former republican
prisoner and current political activist.

Meeting Paddy McGrandles

Padraic Mac Coitir met an old friend from the Blanket on one of his danders. 

Yesterday my danders took me far and wide and I ended up in the north of this fine city. It was strange walking past watering holes that are now closed but thankfully some stayed open. In one such place I bumped into a few people I hadn't seen in ages and as we were enjoying pints of Guinness in walked the boul Paddy McGrandles. Paddy is one of life's characters and would bring a smile to anyone's gob - yes even mine!

He joined our company and even though we were having the best of craic he had us in stitches with stories from gaol. Obviously there were quiet moments when talking about serious events such as the hunger strike.

Paddy had just turned 17 in April 76 when he was taken to Castlereagh interrogation centre. For anyone going there for the first time it can be scary because it was well known the peelers tortured people. Ok it wasn't like Abu Ghraib but a torture centre it definitely was. After ensuring a hard time he was taken to Townhall courthouse and remanded to Crumlin Road gaol. 

In those days we were put in the back of a closed-in Transit van and when Paddy was put in handcuffed a number of older men joined him. Tension was very high because of fighting between our lads and unionist gangsters in the Crum. The other men just looked at Paddy and after a bit of questioning they all relaxed. They asked Paddy what he was charged with and when he told them they said he'll get a hard time from the screws. This made Paddy even more nervous so when he went into reception - yes, that's the fancy name they have in prison where prisoners are stripped, told to bath and get their photo taken - the screws gave him a lot of verbal abuse. Instead of being kept in B wing for one night he was he was kept four nights before being moved to C Wing.

Once on that wing he started to feel better and being one of the younger prisoners he got a lot of stick from older lads, especially some who'd been interned with his da.

He was sentenced in December 76 and immediately joined the blanket protest but he was kept in a separate wing from the other lads until just before Xmas. The screws were cruel bastards and one in particular called Jack Todd would regularly go into the cell and give Paddy a beating. Many of us got the same from the scumbag.

I was sentenced in January 77 and ended up on the same wing as Paddy. His was the first friendly voice I heard when he shouted out the window and called for me to get up on the pipes and tell him a bit about myself. I was crapping myself but he told me not to worry. The first time we saw each other was when we we stood outside our doors on the Sunday as we waited to go to mass in another wing. We couldn't speak but just nodded and smiled. That was the only time we wore prison trousers and the rest of the time whether slopping out, going for our grub or the odd time to see the doctor we would go down the wings naked. Paddy was telling us of the time he burnt his balls - it could only happen to him! When going into the canteen for his dinner he stretched across the hotplate for a bowl of dessert coz it had more in it than the others and he forgot how hot it was!

In April we were moved from H-2 to H-5 and with so many of us our morale rose and we would shout out the doors, have sing songs, quizzes and Irish classes. Paddy was in his element and was the life and soul of the wing. I was moved to another wing in July and that was the last I'd see Paddy until three or four years ago and I've met him a couple of times since then. 

So if any of you ever meet Paddy ask him to tell you yarns about the time he was on the wing with Kieran Doherty and Larry Marley. I've said to Paddy to get it all down on paper because although times were very hard there were many funny times and with characters like Paddy we could endure the blanket and no-wash protests that little bit better.


Padraic Mac Coitir is a former republican
prisoner and current political activist.

1 comment:

  1. Paddy has been the life and soul of many a party. What a guy.

    ReplyDelete