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3 July 2017 Edition

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Jim McDonald, London & Ennis, County Clare

Fógraí Bháis

• Jim McDonald with Martin McGuinness in London

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jim took the boat to England in 1961 and began a career in engineering as a fitter.

JIM McDONALD, who passed away suddenly on 31 May as he battled a long illness, was a committed and ever-active republican in England throughout the turbulent decades of the 1970s and the 1980s, a dedication that was recognised in Jim being named the International Honoree at Le Chéile in 2014.

Jim was witness to some of the seminal moments in Irish republican history in England. These included the deaths on hunger strike of Michael Gaughan in 1974 and Frank Stagg in 1976 as well as the London police shoot-to-kill execution in 1996 of his good friend and comrade, Diarmuid O’Neill, an unarmed IRA Volunteer shot dead while attempting to surrender.

Jim began life in Loughrea, County Galway, in the 1940s.

His mother, Anne McInerney, was a Clare woman from a staunchly republican family. His father, John, was a creamery manager and the family had to move where his work took him, from Galway to Clare, to Cork and Dublin. John later emigrated to England to get work.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Jim took the boat to England in 1961 and began a career in engineering as a fitter. 

In 1972, he joined the Terence Mac Swiney Sinn Féin Cumann in Hammersmith, in west London. It was amongst the most active and high-profile republican bodies in England.

One of his proudest moments was being in the guard of honour for Michael Gaughan’s cortege in June 1974, the largest Irish republican funeral seen in England since 30,000 filed past the coffin of Cork Mayor Terence Mac Swiney in London’s Southwark Cathedral in 1920.

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• 2014 Le Chéile, Wexford: Honourees Jack ‘Danny’ McElduff, Ann O’Sullivan, Sheila and Denis Hanlon, Joe McKenny  and Jim McDonald

In England, a small core of republicans was almost daily involved in some sort of activity: selling papers Friday, Saturday and Sunday; collecting money around the Irish pubs; staging pickets and attending marches and public meetings; and, very importantly for Jim, helping POWs and their families. “We were active full-time, more or less,” Jim recalled for Le Chéile.

“In the 1980s in Hammersmith we were selling 480 An Phoblachts a week and that carried on right up to the 1990s.”

Sinn Féin in Britain was stood down in the mid-1980s and the Wolfe Tone Society was formed. “It was too far away from us so we set up the West London Republican Support Group, still in support of Sinn Féin,” Jim said, “still selling An Phoblacht and doing as much as we could in support of the prisoners and An Cumann Cabhrach.”

Back in County Clare, he joined the Peadar Clancy & Mairéad Farrell Sinn Féin Cumann in Ennis and was a founder member of Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland. Jim became a frequent participant in the delegations to Spain for the annual commemoration of the fallen anti-fascist heroes at Jarama.

Jim was buried with his uncle Pappy in the beautiful setting of Kilvoydane Cemetery, Corofin.

Condolences are extended to Jim's daughters Sharon and Claire, sons-in-law Ray and Yannis, grandchildren Christianna and Antony, sister Mary, relatives and friends, and his comrades in Ireland and overseas.

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An Phoblacht
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