7 July 2005 Edition
James Brownlee, Jamsie to family and friends, died last week at the age of 85.
Jamsie was born on 8 May 1920 in Belgrade Street in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. Times were hard and jobs scarce. James like many young Catholics at the time, had to leave school and seek work. He was only 16 when he went to England and got work there. But home called him and he returned to Belfast after a few years.
He joined Oglaigh na hÉireann and acted as Recruiting Officer for South Down for several years. He was arrested in 1941 and interned in Crumlin Road Jail. He was released in 1943 and again set out to find work. Finding it impossible to get a job in Belfast he set out again for England, only to be arrested on the boat, interrogated and threatened. Back in Belfast he managed to secure a job at Belfast Harbour which he held for 15 years. At a republican gathering that year he met Mary Adams, a young woman with similar republican views. They married in 1944. Such were the conditions of the time and the discrimination that they could not get a house and had to live with relatives. It was not until the early 1950s that the family got a house in St James Place. Active in politics, he supported the fledgling Labour Party hoping that its aim of uniting the working class could challenge the grip of Unionist sectarianism.
He got a job as a bus driver in the late 1950s and was a well-known and respected figure in his workplace. He was a talented artist and always managed to find time to paint. That talent has been handed on to some of his children and grandchildren.
James Brownlee's funeral on 29 June was a testimony to the love his family had for him and the respect in which he was held in his community. He was a generous and open-minded man and had friends from every walk of life. To his wife Mary, his nine children, his many grandchildren, and great grandchildren, our deepest sympathy.