On the 40th Anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands, TPQ publishes a typed copy of a comm he wrote to "Liam Og" on February 25th, 1981.  

In the comm he outlined his apprehensions about the possibility of burial in Milltown, a cemetery he did not like.

He also expressed a desire for his remains to be wrapped in a blanket and not a shroud. He believed, much like the prison uniform, that a shroud would be humiliating. 

His family were not made aware of his written preferences. Nor were they shown the comm in which he expressed them. 

He is buried in Milltown Cemetery in a shroud. 
 

 


Comm donated to the National Archives by Danny Morrison on behalf of the Bobby Sands Trust. 
 
“The central hub for all the comms about strategy was the H-Block Information Centre on the Falls Road. Upon arrival they were immediately transcribed and the originals taken out of the office and into safe houses (because of the regular RUC/British army raids and seizures). All of these comms are lodged and preserved in the National Library” *

Text below formatted for ease of reading. Some words unknown and/or may be inaccurately transcribed.


25.2.81 Liam Og [Tom Hartley, who handled correspondence from the prisoners]. 

Dear Comrade, 

I got your wee note the other day in regard to what I was doing with signer [lawyer]. Firstly I wouldn't tell you to mind your own business because to a large extent it is as much your business as anyone else's. 

I've thought about it all and know how all my family feel at present and it isn't very comforting to know. 

I admit two things 

(one) I fear what will happen after death, [rather than] death itself and I know that what I fear may well occur, for that reason or partly because of that reason I done what I done with the [signer]. I believe that I'm right 

(two) even though I'm right I'm being inconsiderate and selfish. 

So I compromise my final consolence to what you suggested and I done it to our Marcella in about ten words, which in themselves were no doubt ten words too much. 

I would just like to explain a few wee things (I know I don't have to) but it would make me feel better, so I'll just cry on your shoulder 'cos you'll let me. 

You see comrade we have (all of us) our little human fears and whiches and so on, to be honest I don't like Milltown, what the difference at that stage) 

We always wanted buried in Carnmoney the Catholic part of which lies under the shade of the west side of Carnmoney hill I wrote a poem about this once, you should have it there, my reasons are many, as you know I grew up out there, even I realize that this during a war could never for obvious reasons, so there is also the consideration of my sister who I haven't seen for four years and whom I won't see again. 

That is why I wanted to go to Ballina and there are other reasons none of which pertain to the political hazzle involved. I even considered [Fochuairt], which lies on the Free State side of the South Armagh border. 

I don't like Milltown and that's being honest your probably wrecked calling me a morbid eccentric, I'm not I'm human and worry on wee things like those and finally I wanted wrapped in a blanket cause I don't want humiliated in a stinkin' suit or shroud and I've said enough. 

I've dropped the heap 'cos your right about my people etc. and I don't want to distress them any more. 

I'm sort of hoping I'll get a letter from my sister in Dundalk, would someone see her, my ma would hold the letters back from her 'cos she's rep. minded. 

I got Marcella's note last night. I heard about the girls and am relieved and happy about it. 

Index [Father Tom Toner] and Silvertop [Father John Murphy] have been in trying to discourage me, but they have no argument. Silvertop is not too bad but thinks I'm hard on the Amadan. Index does not like my opinions [blank] and in particular on the morale blackmailor. I feel better after a discussion with Index 'cos he can't offer an argument. 

When the H/S begins I won't be talking with anyone on the subject, I'm taking up an interest in football again!! 

They want me out on a visit with a Rep. nun whose father was once on H/S and came off it. Silvertop wasn't pleased with my reply. 

I thought the girls in Armagh were gallant and better doing what they done now than later. 

I have some wee points in regard to breaking the rigours of isolation but I'll get them to you later. 

I hope everyone well, tell Marie l love her, yahoo!! 

I'm saying nothing about you know who [blank] was asking, tell Pennies [Danny Morrison] and the Big Lad [Gerry Adams] the same! I'm alright


* This post has been updated to add the Irish Times's quote from Danny Morrison 

Bobby Sands' Wishes

On the 40th Anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands, TPQ publishes a typed copy of a comm he wrote to "Liam Og" on February 25th, 1981.  

In the comm he outlined his apprehensions about the possibility of burial in Milltown, a cemetery he did not like.

He also expressed a desire for his remains to be wrapped in a blanket and not a shroud. He believed, much like the prison uniform, that a shroud would be humiliating. 

His family were not made aware of his written preferences. Nor were they shown the comm in which he expressed them. 

He is buried in Milltown Cemetery in a shroud. 
 

 


Comm donated to the National Archives by Danny Morrison on behalf of the Bobby Sands Trust. 
 
“The central hub for all the comms about strategy was the H-Block Information Centre on the Falls Road. Upon arrival they were immediately transcribed and the originals taken out of the office and into safe houses (because of the regular RUC/British army raids and seizures). All of these comms are lodged and preserved in the National Library” *

Text below formatted for ease of reading. Some words unknown and/or may be inaccurately transcribed.


25.2.81 Liam Og [Tom Hartley, who handled correspondence from the prisoners]. 

Dear Comrade, 

I got your wee note the other day in regard to what I was doing with signer [lawyer]. Firstly I wouldn't tell you to mind your own business because to a large extent it is as much your business as anyone else's. 

I've thought about it all and know how all my family feel at present and it isn't very comforting to know. 

I admit two things 

(one) I fear what will happen after death, [rather than] death itself and I know that what I fear may well occur, for that reason or partly because of that reason I done what I done with the [signer]. I believe that I'm right 

(two) even though I'm right I'm being inconsiderate and selfish. 

So I compromise my final consolence to what you suggested and I done it to our Marcella in about ten words, which in themselves were no doubt ten words too much. 

I would just like to explain a few wee things (I know I don't have to) but it would make me feel better, so I'll just cry on your shoulder 'cos you'll let me. 

You see comrade we have (all of us) our little human fears and whiches and so on, to be honest I don't like Milltown, what the difference at that stage) 

We always wanted buried in Carnmoney the Catholic part of which lies under the shade of the west side of Carnmoney hill I wrote a poem about this once, you should have it there, my reasons are many, as you know I grew up out there, even I realize that this during a war could never for obvious reasons, so there is also the consideration of my sister who I haven't seen for four years and whom I won't see again. 

That is why I wanted to go to Ballina and there are other reasons none of which pertain to the political hazzle involved. I even considered [Fochuairt], which lies on the Free State side of the South Armagh border. 

I don't like Milltown and that's being honest your probably wrecked calling me a morbid eccentric, I'm not I'm human and worry on wee things like those and finally I wanted wrapped in a blanket cause I don't want humiliated in a stinkin' suit or shroud and I've said enough. 

I've dropped the heap 'cos your right about my people etc. and I don't want to distress them any more. 

I'm sort of hoping I'll get a letter from my sister in Dundalk, would someone see her, my ma would hold the letters back from her 'cos she's rep. minded. 

I got Marcella's note last night. I heard about the girls and am relieved and happy about it. 

Index [Father Tom Toner] and Silvertop [Father John Murphy] have been in trying to discourage me, but they have no argument. Silvertop is not too bad but thinks I'm hard on the Amadan. Index does not like my opinions [blank] and in particular on the morale blackmailor. I feel better after a discussion with Index 'cos he can't offer an argument. 

When the H/S begins I won't be talking with anyone on the subject, I'm taking up an interest in football again!! 

They want me out on a visit with a Rep. nun whose father was once on H/S and came off it. Silvertop wasn't pleased with my reply. 

I thought the girls in Armagh were gallant and better doing what they done now than later. 

I have some wee points in regard to breaking the rigours of isolation but I'll get them to you later. 

I hope everyone well, tell Marie l love her, yahoo!! 

I'm saying nothing about you know who [blank] was asking, tell Pennies [Danny Morrison] and the Big Lad [Gerry Adams] the same! I'm alright


* This post has been updated to add the Irish Times's quote from Danny Morrison 

33 comments:

  1. How dare they not only refuse his dying wish but supress it.
    I'm sickened but not surprised, considering when these decisions were being made Adams had already sold us out.
    This is the stab in the heart we knew was coming.
    Whilst this martyr was being 'traitored' he wrote this to his mother.
    Dear Mum
    "Dear Mum, I know you’re always there
    To help and guide me with all your care,
    You nursed and fed me and made me strong
    To face the world and all its wrong.
    What can I write to you this day
    For a line or two would never pay
    For care and time you gave to me
    Through long hard years unceasingly.
    How you found strength I do not know
    How you managed I’ll never know,
    Struggling and striving without a break
    Always there and never late.
    You prayed for me and loved me more
    How could I ask for anymore
    And reared me up to be like you
    But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.
    A guide to me in times of plight
    A princess like a star so bright
    For life would never have been the same
    If I hadn’t of learned what small things came.
    So forgive me Mum just a little more
    For not loving you so much before,
    For life and love you gave to me
    I give my thanks for eternity."
    R.I.P. comrade and a curse on those who disrespected your wishes.

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  2. After reading that Macker ,Bobbys last wishes were denied him , he was and has been systematically used as political canon fodder by Adams and his ilk this 40yrs , i am not at all shocked , but am really feeling the hurt for Bobbys clan just now.

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  3. Terribly sad to read this, this comm should have been given to his family so they could at least know his death plan and carry out what they could in accordance with his wishes.

    He gave his life for ireland and his wishes ignored in death for what?

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  4. What is the difference between how Tom Williams was buried inside The Crum and how the Republican leadership has buried Bobby Sands? Reinter?

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  5. This callous and ' for the greater good of the movement ' stomach churning decision cries out for remedy. I agree with Christy Walsh .... there should be a campaign for re-interment to give Bobby Sands his dying wish and put him at peace ...... it's the very least that should be done ...

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  6. It takes a rare breed of scum to go against a martyrs last wishes. Contemptible bastards

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  7. Every person has the fundamental right for the instructions in their last will and testament to be honoured in full. For Bobby Sands' dying wishes to be violated in such a way is beyond despicable.

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  8. Nothing surprising with this...What else will we find out in the future that they hid...!

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  9. Thatcher underestimated the Hunger Strikers and they in turn underestimated her. Meanwhile Gerry Adams was just counting the votes.

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  10. To all those commenters posting as Unknown, thank you for your comments. If your comment is for publication please sign off on it.

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  11. Add insult to injury they placed that perv and tout Ruby Davidson in the same plot.

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  12. Political point scoring aside, this is a shocking development. What must follow is full disclosure of any other existing comms; and the rationale given for ignoring Bobby's wishes and by whom.

    The Schmo

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  13. If he where my family, I would remove his remains, wrap them in a blanket and bury him where he wished to be laid to rest

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    Replies
    1. Steve King

      Thinking along the same lines as Tommy.

      I can see that, if his family so wishes, as a way of resolving the problem once the "accurate" message/comm has been 'approved'. I've lived outside of Ireland since between the two Hunger Strikes so I haven't had to live in the controversial environment that unfolded afterwards - and further on, Good Friday agreement, etc. So I don't think demonizing or excluding people should be involved - Bobby was a member of the Republican Movement and was in direct contact with the Belfast leadership. He was an intelligent man and wouldn't have been in the position he was in (OC of the IRA POWs) if he hadn't a fairly good understanding of politics.

      It seems quite clear that he didn't like Milltown cemetry and he wanted to be buried in a blanket, the other thing smacked of a uniform. Bobby was a Republican activist but also a genuine artist, a poet among others, that explains his wishes.

      Even if he did, as some seem to suggest, change his mind/wishes for political reasons, his first wishes as a member of humanity was not to be buried in Milltown and in a shroud. Everyone probably accepts that 40 years ago those were difficult and heady times and the Belfast SF leadership were political 'animals' and may or may not have decided for political expediency. I would say we were many thinking that way in the political environment of the 70s, when we discovered how it worked as young people. However if we lose humanity in our political endeavours, then we have lost our 'souls'. Hopefully most have moved on today, we now have humanity to save, not the earth as it will survive but we may wipe out humanity with our shortsightedness.

      Back to the point. There is no reason that Bobby's family should not decide on were his body may lie (in peace as a poet and a political activist).
      Let the truth out, but excluding no one. And then his family can decide.

      Seamus Ruddy was brought back from France and buried in Newry. Someone gave the necessary information (no credit to that person, or persons, as apart from an unjust and needless assassination unless you were doing the enemy's work, the information should have been out decades before).

      In any case, witch hunting will solve nothing. Let the enemies of justice, equality and real human rights for all classes (in particular the most unfortunate wealth-wise and outcasts), of our hypocritical Western world and some of the rags that pass as newspapers get on with that, we're well used to it.

      Bobby and all the hunger strikers of 1980 and 1981 must not be used as political footballs by those of us that consider ourselves as Irish republicans, Republican Socialists, Socialist republicans, Socialists, human rights defenders, ...

      Delete
  14. Gerard Hodgins makes a constructive proposal “They could have had a ceremonial occasion to Milltown in the same manner as Bobby Storey's funeral, and then put Bobby Sands in a hearse to go to his desired resting place. Time to honour Bobby Sands dying wish and Sinn Fein put their hand in the pocket and reinter the man in accordance with his wishes”.

    Sadly, rows about funeral arrangements are not rare. Unless the living person leaves clear written instructions detailing their wishes, sends them to a number of trusted people - distressing rows will explode.

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  15. “They could have had a ceremonial occasion to Milltown in the same manner as Bobby Storey's funeral, and then put Bobby Sands in a hearse to go to his desired resting place. Time to honour Bobby Sands dying wish and Sinn Fein put their hand in the pocket and reinter the man in accordance with his wishes.” A constructive comment and proposal by Gerard Hodgins. Sadly, rows about funeral arrangements are not rare. Unless the living person leaves clear written instructions detailing their wishes, sends them to a number of trusted people - distressing rows will explode.

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  16. "I've another sister who is 21 and single. She's in Dundalk [south of the border - on the run]. Fire bombs went off in her pocket. She can't come up here, but if again groomed would do down there. She's been there for 3 years, okay. I haven't seen her in over three years. Because of her (and I'm not trying to be smart or stupid or mimic anyone) I wanted buried down there." Comm from Bobby Sands "Marcella", Ten Men Dead (pg 57, 1994 ed)

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  17. Unknown - thank you for your comment. If you wish it to be carried please sign off on it.

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  18. The Adams cabal acted no differently in their treatment of Bobby Sands than the infamous 1973-77 26-County Government did in their treatment of the body of hunger striker Frank Stagg in 1976.

    In the case of Frank Stagg, the Dublin regime sized the body of the dead hunger striker when it arrived back from England. In defiance of the clearly expressed wishes of Frank Stagg, that he be buried in the Republican Plot in Leigue Cemetery, Ballina, Co Mayo, alongside his comrade Michael Gaughan, (These wishes were recorded in a codicil to his Last Will and Testament) Stagg's body was instead buried in a plot bought by the 26-,County government and a coating of cement was placed over it.

    With the emergence of this previously unpublished commm comes the harsh reality that five years after the shameful hijacking of the body of Frank Stagg by the Fine Gael/Labour coalition, a cabal within the leadership of the Republican Movement acted no differently in hijacking the body of Bobby Sands for their own politcal ends. In doing so they are no different than people like Liam Cosgrave, Paddy Cooney and Conor Cruise O'Brien in their attitude to, and treatment of, the body of a Republican Hunger Striker.

    It is indeed ironic that Bobby Sands expressed a wish to possibly be buried with Stagg and Gaughan in Ballina. Shame on those who wilfully ignored the final wishes of a hunger striker. They are truly in ignominious company

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  19. Nothing surprises me with these self serving bastards. They even tried to hijack the darks funeral for their own means. Shameless cunts.

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  20. "Sands had thought a lot about where he would be buried and at one point he asked his lawyer to draw up a legal document backing up his request to be buried in County Mayo, next to Michael Gaughan and Frank Stagg, who died on hunger strike in English jails. Sands insisted that he was being neither "naive" nor "morbidly flamboyant" but that he had serious personal reasons for the request. Earlier, he requested to be buried in Carnmoney Cemetery, just a few hundred yards from his boyhood home." *

    *Bobby Sands to Liam Og (Tom Hartley), 15 February 1981; Seanna Walsh interview.

    Page 375, Bobby Sands, Nothing but an Unfinished Song by Denis O'Hara, footnote attribution page 418.

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  21. Writings From Prison: Bobby Sands

    excerpt from Bury Me In My Blanket:

    “Spirit of resistance!” he sniggered. “Ideals,” he mimicked.
    “We'll see bloody well all about that if you have to bloody well die here,” he said.
    “I've thought about that too,” I said, “and it's hard to say to oneself that one is prepared to go to such an extreme, but then we
    are special prisoners and we are struggling for a special cause, so if I should die here, tell “Mr Mason” to bury me in my blanket and for God's sake keep your head at peace and you have yours examined like a good lad.”

    excerpt from A Place to Rest:

    I would gladly rest where the whin bush grow,
    Beneath the rocks where the linnets sing
    In Carnmoney Graveyard ‘neath its hill
    Fearing not what the day may bring!

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  22. Why did Danny Morrison donate a comm with this text to the National Archives?

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  23. Sinn Féin has issued a statement quoting from a March 9 1981 document which, the party says, shows that Bobby Sands changed his mind about where he wished to be buried. If that is true, fine.

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  24. Strange reading that Danny Morrison was named as 'Pennies'. An interview in the McGill magazine,...can anybody source it?...hade him saying as I recall: 'So let's treat an' get on with making a few pennies.' That comment led to major ructions in our local Irish solidarity group, as we argued it pointed to a direction taken by Sinn Fein later proven by events.

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  25. Shocking how it was kept secret from the family for years. Every ones wishes should be carried out. Tony Roche limerick

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  26. John

    The March 9 comm was previously published in both Ten Men Dead and Nothing But an Unfinished Song (Denis O'Hearn). You can see it here: https://cain.ulster.ac.uk/events/hstrike/beresford.htm

    Oddly, both Beresford and O'Hearn's reproductions have ••• where the line about changing his mind on Ballina SF cites today presumably would be. Coincidence? Or were they both given the same redacted version of the March 9th comm? If so, why? Why redact that line in particular?

    The new quote from SF also does not indicate he wanted buried in either Milltown or a shroud.

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  27. What an insult to someone who sacrificed so much. I may disagree with the actions he took but respected him for his undoubted courage.

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  28. If they have the original comm then show it unredacted, issue over.

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  29. This dispute is easy to solve. Reproduce the full version of the March 9 comm. The redaction of that comm in Beresford’s book is baffling.

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  30. Shocking beyond words ... But surprising, sadly no . 40 years ago Adams and his kitchen cabinet were using the Hunger Strikers as pawns to increase their Electoral vote .One only has to Go in to 55 Hours and read the heartbreaking events leading up to the death of Joe Mc Donnell when Adams and his cohorts shut the door on a deal the prisoners leadership under Bik would have accepted and would have saved the lives of the last six Hunger Strikers. Richard o Rawes books are a must read on this issue. ...As my mother used to say the truth always comes out

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    Replies
    1. Lou, it's important to remember that the Fermanagh/South Tyrone Westminster seat was generally available to Republicans for decades.
      Philip Clarke took the seat as a prisoner/abstentionist SF candidate in 1955.
      Frank McManus (younger brother of Father Sean of NorAid & Vol. Pat McManus, killed in action during Operation Harvest) took the seat in 1970
      Then Frank Maguire former OC of Republican internees in Crumlin Rd of the 1960's won the seat back again in '74
      (Keep in mind that Austin Currie of the SDLP was continuously attempting to put his nose in during those years too.)

      And all that was years before Bobby (followed by Owen Carron) won the seat as Anti-H-Block candidates.

      My point is, that the seat was generally available to Republicans as long as the vote was managed.
      What this suggests is that Adams had his eye on it and was well on the road to becoming a Northern Free Stater much earlier than the lead into '86 and was most likely of such a mindset long before the '81 debacle.

      How could people expect anything more from a Free Stater, any more than they'd expect anything but a grunt from a pig? That he'd put his career hopes before well established principles, that he'd let men die unnecessarily and that he'd have denied the dying wishes of Vol. Sands can hardly be surprising ... can hardly be surprising now can it?

      Delete
  31. Unknown - if you want your comment published, please sign off on it.

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