Pádraic MacCoitir, Míchéal Fitzsimons and Archie Livingstone had contacted Pól Torbóid a number of weeks ago and asked if he could design it and within days he came up with what was unveiled. The five boards are made of aluminum composite and hopefully the mural will last for many years.
Tommy Fox, a local former political prisoner, was called on to read a poem written by another local man Colum Mac Giolla Bhéin titled 'A letter to the 22' (in memory of the 22 Irish Republicans who died on hunger strike in different campaigns). It was a great recital and the crowd very much appreciated it.
Pádraic MacCoitir then spoke about IRA volunteer Joe McDonnell. Joe who lived in Lenadoon Avenue was very well known and respected by many people. He was married to Greta and they had two children, Bernadette and Joseph, at the time of his capture in October 1976 on an IRA operation in nearby Dunmurry. He and his comrades were remanded to Crumlin Road gaol and the following year they were sentenced to 14 years after refusing to recognise a non-jury Diplock court. When they were moved to the H-Blocks they immediately joined others on the blanket protest. Pádraic, Míchéal and Archie were also the protest and as Pádraic looked around the crowd he noticed a number of other men who were on the same wing as Joe.
One of those captured with Joe was Bobby Sands and he went on hunger strike on March 1st 1981 and unfortunately after 66 days he died. Joe joined the hunger strike four days after his comrade and it was then he had his first visit with his family since he was sentenced almost four years earlier.
Many people in Lenadoon and other parts of the country went on protests in support of the hunger strikers and as each man died there was sadness and anger in equal measure. As Joe's health deteriorated more people attended vigils and protests but like his five comrades who died before him
Joe died on 8th July. People went on to the streets banging bin-lids and blowing whistles and others stood in small groups saying prayers. when Joe's body was brought back to his Lenadoon Avenue home thousands of people called to the house to pay their respects.
As his funeral walked through the estate, then down Shaw's Road and onto the Andersonstown Road his comrades in the IRA went on to the road and fired a volley of shots over his coffin. When they went back to their safe house it was attacked by the British army and the RUC and after firing live rounds and seriously wounding one of the men inside the RUC went amok on the Andersonstown Road firing dozens of plastic bullets. Despite this the cortege made its way to Milltown cemetery and Joe McDonnell was laid to rest in the same grave as his comrade Bobby Sands.
Pádraic then told the crowd that next year is the 40th anniversary of the 10 hungers strikers as well as that of local girl Julie Livingstone who was shot dead with a plastic bullet. It is also the anniversary of Fian John Dempsey who was killed by the British army on the morning Joe McDonnell died.
Míchéal, Archie and Alan presented flowers to Greta, Bernadette and Teasy. One of Joe's grandchildren, Dearbhla, then laid a wreath on the fence below the mural. To finish off the day's proceeding Caragh sang a lovely rendition of the famous song 'Joe McDonnell'.