9 April 2009 Edition
Ex-POWs gather in tribute to a firm friend from Philadelphia
Mike Duffy’s ashes scattered on Carrigart’s shore
ON Saturday afternoon, 28 March, republicans from across Ireland gathered to pay their final respects to Mike Duffy from Philadelphia as his ashes were scattered on Carrigart shore, County Donegal, his father’s homeplace.
Mike’s ashes were brought from Philadelphia by his friend and comrade, Connie McCrea, and scattered by former POW Geraldine Crawford. Eamon Nolan chaired the commemoration and Ann O’Sullivan, one of the organisers, laid flowers on behalf of the Republican Movement on the shoreside.
Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty, a native of Carrigart, gave the oration alongside 40 republicans. Amongst the crowd were many former POWs, including Hughie Doherty, Eddie Butler, Joe O’Connell, Pat Traynor, Geraldine Crawford, Vincent Donnelly, Mary McArdle and Rosie McCorley. Also there were Rose McLarnon, who co-ordinated the Irish Political Prisoners’ Children’s Programme (IPPCH) in Belfast, and Michael Culbert, from Coiste na nIarchimí.
Pat Doherty recalled Mike’s lifelong dedication to the Republican Movement;
“Mike Duffy was born in Philadelphia in 1931; his father was from Carrigart, his mother from Derry. Mike was married to Pat for 52 years and together they had six children: two sons, four daughters and seven grandchildren. In the late 1970s, Mike set up the Prisoners Writing Campaign to organise Americans to send letters and cards of support to Irish republican prisoners in jail in Ireland, England, Europe and America.”
“For decades Mike ran a stall in the greater Philadelphia area informing people of Irish republican issues and asking people to send a card to our POWs, in particular Christmas cards. Over the years this ran into thousands of cards and letters being sent to our POWs.
“Mike was active in Noraid over the years, however a cause close to Mike’s heart was the Irish Political Prisoners’ Children’s Programme (IPPCH). Mike fund-raised tirelessly each year to ensure children of republican prisoners could come to America for a holiday. He also wrote personally to very single prisoner right up until his death and ended each letter or card with ‘God Bless, Mike Duffy.’”
‘GOD BLESS YOU, MIKE DUFFY’
Pat Doherty went on to give an indication of how much the ceremony meant not just to Mike, his family and friends in the United States and here but also how much it meant to the Republican Movement.
“Mike was a regular visitor to Ireland and never missed an opportunity to visit prisoners in Armagh, Magheraberry, Long Kesh and Portlaoise.
“He diligently keep a database of all prisoners and which was often referenced by our own POW Department in Dublin and Belfast.
“Today is a fulfilment of his final wishes to have his ashes scattered in his father’s homeplace. We remember Mike as a quiet, unassuming man and although he did not drink himself he enjoyed going out and having the craic. A family man and a dedicated republican. God bless you, Mike Duffy.”
Geraldine Crawford fulfils Mike’s wish and scatters his ashes on Carrigart’s shore