17 November 2005 Edition

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Fógraí bháis - Geordie McGilloway

Derry republicans were saddened to hear of the death of Geordie McGilloway on 24 October.

Patrick Joseph, (Geordie) McGilloway was born into a republican family. During the '50s they were part of a band in the Racecourse area of Derry, whose banner proclaimed, 'Erin's sons shall rise Again'. Though the band has long gone the banner remains and local people still say 'It's on the Banner' when they want to announce a republican event

Geordie had a great knowledge of the countryside around Derry and Inis Eoghan and put this to good use. If people wanted to get to a place in a hurry or without being stopped, Geordie was the man for the job. Such work was dangerous and mostly never acknowledged but was a natural part of his life and the struggle.

Geordie was first arrested at the top of Duncreggan Road in Derry in the '50s and taken to the old Duncreggan Barracks. It would be the first of many arrests in the years that followed

The McGilloway home was one of hospitality for all who went through its doors and many did. Geordie worked hard supporting his family and at the same time supporting the struggle.

They were not easy years either for Geordie or Kathleen. Their little son Noel aged two-and-half years was killed outside their door. Another two sons ended up like so many young people in prison for their republican beliefs, one in the South and the other in the North.

It was time of great hardship but Geordie threw himself wholeheartedly into the H-Block/Armagh prison struggle. Geordie set up the first Saoirse Committee around the H-Block and Armagh prison issues. He collected outside the churches, marched, gave out leaflets and took part in many protests around the issue of political status.

He was a dedicated member of Sinn Féin and the Pól Kinsella Cumann. Whether it was electioneering, selling tickets, running people to meetings or to Stormont, he took it all in his stride from the mundane to the dangerous.

His dedication is reflected in the magnificent H-Block Monument, which he worked on day and night. Now visited by people from every corner of the globe, the monument is as much a tribute to Geordie as it is to the men who died on Hunger Strike.

One of the last projects Geordie worked on was the monument dedicated to the fallen Volunteers of Creggan. Although literally dying on his feet Geordie was there on the night it was unveiled.

Geordie McGilloway was laid to rest at Derry's City Cemetery on 26 October. His Tricolour-draped coffin was flanked by an Honour Guard from the Pól Kinsella Cumann. Mary Nelis delivered the oration and on behalf of the Republican Movement and extended sympathy to Geordie's wife Kathleen, his children Mary, Patrick, Robert, Niall and Raymond, his Mother and brothers and sisters.

An Phoblacht
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