10 December 1998 Edition

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Fógraí bháis

Joe Carty

The death of Joe Carty has shocked the republican family in Tyrone. Originally from Bundoran, Co Donegal, Joe was an ``elder statesman'' within the Tyrone National Graves Association. He died at the age of 80 having taken ill on his way to a committee meeting at the end of October.

There are many aspects of Joe's life which merit special attention. he fathered a family of seven children and was very happily married to Mary. Their son, Volunteer Patrick Carty, was killed on active service along with comrades, Sean Loughran and Dermot Crowley, in June 1973. Understandably, Patrick's death made a huge impression on him as only a bereaved parent in such circumstances could know.

Joe was extremely popular in Dungannon where he had lived for the last forty three years. He had a keen interest in greyhounds and was known to put the odd wager on the horses too.

Joe spent many years as an employee of the Great Northern Railway. His work took him everywhere and he even won a championship playing gaelic football for Enniskillen Gaels, although not officially registered with the club at the time.

Joe was famous in Dungannon for his active involvement in local tenants' groups and for organising bus trips every summer to the likes of Bundoran, Mosney and Newcastle.

But it is as a good caring family man and as a proud Irish republican that people will best remember Joe.

Joe loved the Easter Commemorations in Edendork and Carrickmore. He loved the company of men like Tommy O'Neill, Patsy McMahon, Anthony Gormley and Brian Cawley who took him to all the meetings.

He was a legendary treasurer of the Tyrone National Graves Association who never fulfilled his threat to resign every year. Fellow committee spoke movingly about their much loved friend at the December meeting.

They talked about Joe's punctuality, his frequent impatience but above all else his total integrity. Joe was consistently described as being honest and straightforward.

He was direct and even argumentative when necessary. Like any treasurer worth his/her salt, Joe invariably smiled when individual areas handed in their Easter collection monies, but he didn't quite seem to hear the same people when they wanted him to write a cheque. Joe would ask ten times ``What's this for?'' when conceding to pay a bill on behalf of the Association.

There were no back doors in Joe. What you saw is what you got. He was a man full of conviction, a tireless worker and a religious man who would have been delighted at the manner in which Fr. Joseph Quinn conducted his Funeral Mass.

Ann Street will be a duller place without Joe shuffling past. May he Rest in Peace.

Republicans everywhere will especially miss him and we extend heartfelt sympathy to his wife, Mary and their family.

Thug se a raibh ar son na hEireann.

Kathleen Neeson

Kathleen Neeson would be cut to the bone to think that some form of tribute was being paid to her in An Phoblacht.

If she could, she'd probably reach out, grab me and tell me to catch myself on as I write this obituary. But, I think Kathleen knows her efforts to exhort some restriction on my few words would be to no avail. She died quietly in the early hours of 26 October aged 77, at her home in Crosskeys, and we buried her in Moneyglass on 28 October.

Yes indeed, Kathleen, and so many hundreds like her, would have argued against the appearance of any tribute. Each week An Phoblacht carries obituaries of elderly and not so old republicans, male and female. Their objection to any acknowledgement would reside purely in a healthy aversion to publicity and a deep sense of genuine, natural, personal modesty. It is this particular quality that I will always associate with Kathleen; one of a simple modesty and integrity shaped by her rural Antrim roots, and so evident in the way she reared her family of 13 children and in a 56 year partnership of marriage to Brendan.

Kathleen Neeson was one of the struggle's hidden heroes - those people whose modesty and circumstances make them an indispensible part of a massive, invisible base of support that only those with a sense and understanding of political struggle can ever comprehend. And, for those who do so, we incur a lifetime's admiration and debt.

There have been, are, and will continue to be hidden heroes in the mould of Kathleen Neeson in every liberation struggle, whether in South Africa, Euskadi, and every part of Ireland. People like Kathleen are the very substance of how and why we seek, and will ultimately become, a free people.

Nonetheless, Kathleen wasn't just one amongst many. She was a special person, the mother of a large, deeply generous, and in turn, respected family. She was also an integral part of the republican family, and the freedom struggle.

In so many ways Kathleen touched the lives of republicans from throughout Ireland with her unassuming generosity and political commitment to republican objectives. The struggle today will be truly poorer with her passing, but she has helped to guide us further on the road ahead.

The Republican Movement extends its deepest sympathy to Kathleen's husband Brendan, sons, daughters and large family circle.

Jerry Johnston

The death occurred on Monday 30 November of prominent Monaghan republican and Belfast native Jerry Johnston. Jerry has been an important member of the Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin constituency office staff since retiring from his employment at St Davnett's Hospital in Monaghan. On the day prior to his death, he had celebrated his 63rd birthday. \

The story of Jerry Johnston's active republicanism goes back to his roots in Ardyone from where, like so many others in the early 70s, he was forced to leave and seek a new home south of the border. Jerry and his wife Jean chose Monaghan and there raised their three children, John, Ciarán and Louise.

A plumber by trade, Jerry was an active trade unionist and was to the fore in developing community politics in his adopted town. A prominent figure in the Kilnacloy Residents Association, Jerry ensured that the local Sinn Féin team of councillors fully took on board the needs of such community groups. Jerry's distinctive accent and manner marked him out as special in the developing relationship between Sinn Féin and the ever growing support base within County Monaghan.

Following Requiem Mass the funeral cortege was escorted to Latlurcan Cemetery by a Republican Guard of Honour. The graveside tribute was chaired by Monaghan Sinn Féin Councillor Owen Smyth. Wreaths were laid on behalf of the Constituency Office staff, the Monaghan town and Inniskeen SF cumainn and County Monaghan Comhairle Ceantair. The oration was delivered by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin.

Deputy O Caoláin said Jerry held very strong but well thought-out views and while he could occasionally take an ``imaginative'' position on some issues he was invariably ``spot on'', especially on issues of justice, equality and the national rights of the Irish people.

``Jerry's decency and integrity were his hallmarks. His presence throughout all these years enhanced both the structures of our party and its growing acceptance to this border electorate. Jerry was a champion of the oppressed. He played his part in the development of our party's vision of an Ireland now apparently within our grasp. His abiding dream was of an Ireland without British interference; an Ireland free that offered its children and future generations the prospect of reaching their full and natural potential in their own land. He abhorred the scourge of emigration.

``Jerry has left his own special mark on all of us. On behalf of Sinn Féin and the entire republican family of which Jerry was a a full and proud member I offer sympathy to Jean, to John, Ciarán and Louise, to Jerry's brothers and sisters and family circle. I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a anam dílis.''

Mick Bannon

It was with great sorrow that the Republican Movement in South Down learned of the death of Mick Bannon.

Mick was a dedicated republican all his life. He was interned along with his brother Jimmy from 1940 to 1946, leaving his widowed mother to look after the farm. His door was always open to comrades on the run and it saddened him to hear of any of his comrades being captured by the enemy.

Mick was a great gaelic sportsman and he was one of the last remaining members of the 1929 Leitrim Fontenoys senior hurling championship side. He always took a great interest in gaelic games and would have revelled in the success of his local club this year.

Mick is buried in Leitrim graveyard under the shadow of the burnt-out remains of the local chapel. It was torched earlier this year as a result of the sectarian bigotry which Mick had spent all his life trying to end.

An Phoblacht
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