29 July 2012 Edition
Joe D’Arcy, Galway
AS WE PREPARE for this year’s National Hunger Strike Commemoration, it is appropriate that we remember in our thoughts Joe D’Arcy, who passed away earlier this year. Joe was a son of Galway hunger striker Óglach Tony D’Arcy, who died along with his comrade, Mayoman Jack Mac Neela, in Arbour Hill in 1940.
Joe was born in 1932 into a staunchly republican family in the Cnoc Rúin area of Headford, County Galway. Joe was very proud of the role played by the North Galway Brigade in the Tan War and especially the role of his granduncle, Óglach Louis D’Arcy, who was assassinated by the Black and Tans in 1921.
When Joe was just 8 years old his own father died on hunger strike after he was arrested for his role in reorganising the IRA in the lead-up to the England Campaign of the 1940s. Tony D’Arcy was buried in Domhnach Phádraig graveyard in the plot reserved for members of the North Galway Brigade.
In adulthood Joe became an ambulance driver working from Galway University Hospital.
Joe and his wife, Mairéad, settled in Sean Talamh, just around the corner from the University Hospital, and it was there that they raised their three sons: Fursa, Tony and Gerry. After his family, Joe’s other great love was Gaelic football. Joe often refereed Gaelic matches himself and there were no favours if you came up against him. Without having to think twice, he once sent off his own boss in the hospital for a misdemeanour on the pitch.
Joe was one of a group of people who helped reorganise Sinn Féin in Galway in the aftermath of the Border Campaign and in the 1967 local elections he ran as the party’s candidate in the West Ward. He polled well but missed out on taking the seat. Despite this, Joe continued with his activism and took great enjoyment in seeing Sinn Féin grow from strength to strength.
In the last general election Joe would give an occasional phone call to Galway West’s Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, encouraging him in the campaign, and even in my last conversation with Joe, he wanted me to make sure that his subscription for An Phoblacht would be renewed.
And he continued to promote the legacy of his father. He was humbled to receive the bronze lily on behalf of his father at the Tírghrá event in 2001, and in 2006 Martin McGuinness gave the oration at his father’s grave, stressing the link between 1940 and 1981. It was a proud day for Joe, his sister Maura, brother Noel and the wider D’Arcy family. That pride and spirit stayed with Joe until his dying day.
Seán Ó Murchadha