Saturday, December 28, 2013

Various obits (Jim Columb, Jim Woll, Paddy Harney)

 The following are some obituaries of 50's men who died in the late 90's from the RSF paper "Saoirse."  

Jim Columb

Republicans were deeply grieved at the death on March 28 in the Mater Hospital, Dublin of Jim Columb (65), a veteran of the 1956-62 Campaign in the Six Occupied Counties. He had been in failing health for some time.
A native of Dernaferst, Gowna, Co Cavan, Jim lived and worked in Dublin for the latter part of his life. He is remembered with strong affection by all Republicans who were in contact with him down the years.He himself was an unswerving and no-nonsense Republican and a soldier in the very best sense who commanded respect at all times.

At the removal to St Colmcille’s Church, Aughnacliffe, Co Longford on March 29 the coffin was draped in the Irish Tricolour. There was a huge turn-out of the local community together with Republicans from Longford and surrounding counties.

Among the gifts presented during Mass the next morning were his fishing rod and a Long Kesh harp. Hymns sung in Irish included Ag Críost an Síol and Caoineadh na dTrí Mhuire.

Councillor Seán Lynch, Aughnacliffe, presided at the graveside ceremony in the adjoining cemetery. He spoke highly of Jim Columb whom he had known all his life. He and Jim went to school together at Polladoey NS and were in the same class. They had joined the Republican Movement together in the 1950s.

“Jim Columb was,” he said, “above all else a Republican soldier. He remained loyal and true to the end with the courage of Cúchulainn and the determination of Cathal Brugha.”

Éamon Larkin, South Armagh represented An Ard Chomhairle, Republican Sinn Féin and the attendance included Republicans from North Louth and South Armagh who were comrades and friends of Jim Columb.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh in his oration quoted Brendan Behan’s poem The Dead March Past (in an Easter commemoration parade). Jim Columb was very proud to have shouldered Behan’s coffin when he was given a Republican funeral in 1964.

A highly-skilled plasterer by trade, Jim was noted as a good worker. During his time in Dublin he showed himself a caring human being by visiting any local people while in hospital there and by helping others to find work and arrange accommodation in the city.

A report received by the GHQ Staff officer in charge of training in the western and midland counties in 1956 indicated that “Volunteer Columb shows exceptional determination and fighting spirit and is a natural soldier”.

As was to be expected he was engaged in active service in 1957 against the British armed Forces of Occupation in south Fermanagh. Eventually he was arrested with four other Cavan men on the Monaghan side of the Fermanagh border and sentenced to six months imprisonment for “refusing to answer questions”.

Jim refused to recognise the court and in Mountjoy joined immediately in a hunger strike then in progress for political status which had been withdrawn. Ten days later the strike ended in total success. Removed to the Curragh Concentration Camp on expiration of sentence. Jim took part in the mass escape of December 1958 but was shot in the knee and recaptured.

On release in 1959 he carried on as an active Republican and when the Workers’ Party/Democratic Left broke away in 1969 he rejected them. Right through the 1970s and early 1980s until ill-health overtook him he was active in a support capacity in the South Armagh-North Lough Border with Liam Fagan of Ravensdale and Séamus Heuston of Keady, both of whom have now passed on.

From 1986 on he stood by Republican Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Fianna Éireann and the Continuity IRA. There was no easy road or no shortcuts to freedom, he would contend.

A permanent peace, so earnestly desired by all, would come when the British armed forces evacuated Ireland. The British government would leave our country only when compelled to do so, was his stance.

Jim Columb’s father, Johnny, had served in the Longford Brigade, IRA against the Black-and-Tans and he himself had given service all his life in good measure.

“Leaba i measc na bhFíníní go raibh aige de shíor.” Sympathy is expressed to his sisters Anna (Minnesota), Maureen (Donegal), brothers Mel (Gowna), Seán (New York), Frank (Dublin) and Fintan (Manchester).

Among the many floral tributes was one from the US in the names of Peter Quinn, Longford, Pat McGirl, Leitrim, Frank Skuse, Cork and Seán Cronin, Kerry — all of them comrades from the 1950s.

Jim Woll

On March 12, 1998 Jim Woll of Cloyne, Co Cork passed to his eternal reward in the Mercy Hospital, Cork. On March 14 his remains were removed from his daughter Rosaleen’s house to Cloyne Church, with full Republican honours. The guard of honour which accompanied Jim’s remains to the church was drawn from East Cork Graves Association and old comrades and was led by a lone piper.
Jim’s funeral Mass was on Sunday March 15. Chief celebrant of the Mass was Father Fitzgerald accompanied by personal friends of Jim’s, among whom were Fathers’ Herlihy and Slattery.

In a homily Father Fitzgerald described Jim as a warm-hearted person who was always worried about others. Jim would always ask about others who were sick in the area and never complained about his own illness. He was also a loving father and grandfather. Fr Fitzgerald also said that once Jim’s mind was made up that was it. He said he had very strong views on the national issue and these views also have to be respected.

After Mass accompanied by an East Cork Graves Guard of Honour and preceded by a lone piper, his remains were taken a short distance to the family grave in the adjoining cemetery. After blessing and prayers, his coffin was lowered into the grave by personal friends of his.

A decade of the rosary as Gaeilge was followed by the playing of the last post by Pat Varian on the bugle. Norman O’Rourke finished off proceedings when he played a lament on the Pipes.

It has to be said that the large gathering of mourners behaved impeccably, as one could hear the proverbial pin drop such was the quietness and dignity during the proceedings. It was surely a mark of the respect that the people of his beloved Cloyne and District and indeed all over Cork held for Jim.

Jim Wall was involved in Republican activities from the 1930’s right up to shortly before his death.

The 1940s found Jim in The Curragh concentration camp, where he spent a number of years. Conditions could be described as atrocious, but he emerged in the mid-1940s more committed than ever. Later he became the owner/driver in his own lorry business.

Again he risked all. In 1954 Armagh Barracks was stripped of all the contents of its armoury. The booty was safely delivered by Jim’s V8 truck. A song entitled My little V8 truck was composed at the time to celebrate the event. No need to add who owned and drove same. Had the Omagh raid been successful some months later, Jim was ready to deliver the captured arms. Many Republicans travelled in this lorry to camps preparing for the 1956-1962 campaign. When the time came they travelled North in the luxury of self same truck.

While the 1960s were relatively quite, Jim’s lorry was always an instant platform for speakers at the parades or meetings, especially for the Boys of Clonmult and the Manchester Martyrs Commemorations locally.

At this time of his life he became IO for the Republicans in East Cork. Even this was to bear fruit in later years as information he gathered, on two occasions, foiled planned ambushes on local Republicans.

In the 1970s he was again in the thick of things. Suffice to say he put his life, freedom and business on the line on a lot more than one occasion. The 1980s were only a little less hectic.

In the 1990s he became Chairman of the reconstructed East Cork Graves Association. It was as if he knew that he only had a limited amount of time to do all that was needed to the graves and monuments in the area. He was ruthlessly efficient in getting his work done. Jim was helped by fellow members in collecting money and running Wolfe Tones concerts.

These concerts were hosted to raise the considerable sums of money needed to totally refurbish the Republican plot in Midleton. Most of the Republican monuments in the area were in addition cleaned and repointed .

There is only one monument for Jim and it is a 32-County Republic, nothing less. Ní bheidh a leithéid againn arís.

On the business side he was a great time keeper and worked like a slave, indeed only part of his exploits would fill this paper. “Wollway” was what his business went by. It was a unique achievement to deliver four loads of sugarbeet to Mallow from East Cork in a day, at a time when all beet had to be hand picked. Once I heard him remark that “those bags are a bit small, it takes too long to fill the lorry”. “Those bags” were from 16-20 stone each, filled with wheat. Hoping that this gives people a feel for Jim’s attitude to life.

His life could be summed up Dia, Domhain agus a Chlann. Condolences are extended to his daughter, Rosaleen, son Séamas and his grandchildren, James, Stephanie, Raymond, Claire and Tanya and other relatives and his many friends on their loss.

Go ndéana Dia trócaire ar a anam dílís.

Paddy Harney

Republicans were deeply grieved by the death in Beaumont Hospital, Dublin on March 14 of life-long Republican Paddy Harney of Athlone.

There was a huge turn-out at the removal from his home at Cloonrullay Beálnamullia, Co Roscommon to Drum Church, Athlone. The coffin was draped in the Tricolour and Guard of Honour of Republican Sinn Féin comrades escorted the hearse.

A piper and a concert flautist played during Mass next morning and also accompanied the funeral to the local cemetery. Seosamh Ó Maoileoin, Co na h-Iar-mhí led the immense attendance in a decade of the Rosary in Irish.

“Paddy Harney, affectionately called Packey, was an honourable and uncompromising Republican whose principled stand all his life involved much sacrifice for himself and his family”, said Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin at his graveside in Drum cemetery, Athlone on March 16.

He went on; “Packey joined the Athlone Unit of the IRA in the early 1950s while he was still in his twenties. After returning from the funeral of Seán Sabhat in Limerick in January 1957 he was arrested for taking part in a Guard of Honour at the funeral of veteran Republican Paddy Givern of Monksland, Athlone.

“He was sentenced to three months imprisonment in the political wing of Mountjoy jail. On his release he found his employment as a railway man with CIE taken from him.

“Three months later again he was taken in the internment swoop of July 1957 and held without trial in the Curragh Concentration Camp.

“He had but to sign a form undertaking to secure immediate release and the return of his job with CIE.

“Packey refused and he and his wife Teresa and four young children suffered much distress and privation as a result.

“A year and three months later he was released unconditionally and resumed activities with Republican Sinn Fén. He found work in Dublin, returning to Athlone at weekends, and after some years his job as a railway man was restored to him.

“In the late 1960s he was among those who set up a public meeting locally for Civil Rights leaders from the Six Counties. Later he assisted families suffering distress and helped refugees from the North.

 Mourners at the funeral re-called how the local parish priest attempted to have Teresa pressurise Paddy to sign the form while he was in the Curragh.

“His first duty is to his wife and family”, said the PP.
 “No”, replied Teresa, “his first duty is to God and his country.”
 End of encounter.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis cróga.

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