Sunday, March 16, 2014

Des Cox

 Obit of a 50's man, Des Cox, from "Saoirse", 1998.

(Note:He was also a supporter of Fianna Uladh in its early years.)

Deasún Mac Coiligh (Des Cox)

Des Cox, who died at his home in Armagh city on Friday, February 4, was born in Dublin 79 years ago but went to live in in his father's native Derrygonnelly, Co Fermanagh when he was nine years old.

His mother was from Co Mayo. Married to Molly from Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim, who died in 1999, he had three children, M?ire, Frankie and Michael.

A life-long Republican, Des Cox became involved with the Republican Movement when he came to reside in Enniskillen in 1950. A keen follower of Gaelic games he was soon to become secretary of Enniskillen Gaels GFC and represented them for many years at County Board level.

He first came to prominence in the Republican Movement when along with that dedicated veteran from Dungannon, Art Mac Eochaidh, they canvassed to get Phil Clarke elected in Fermanagh/South Tyrone at the expense of Colonel Grosvenor of the unionists. This was after the Omagh barracks raid and nationalist opinion was strong due to the undemocratic capering of the Stormont government.

When the IRA Campaign started in 1956 Des joined the South Fermanagh Brigade under O/C Paddy McManus but due to ill-health he was unable to partake in military engagements. However he worked earnestly for the organisation and his house in Queen Street, Enniskillen was readily available for Volunteers coming from the South.

Des at the time was working as a conductor for Ulsterbus and it was he who brought Dáithí Ó Conaill across the Border for the first time on his bus to leave him with Frank Maguire in Lisnaskea.

The IRA were active in Fermanagh and after the discovery of a dugout at Cavanacross and an attack on the RUC barracks in Enniskillen about fifty yards from Des Cox's home. He was arrested with five others, Frankie and Éamon Goodwin, Joe Owens, Kevin Carson and Henry Martin and brought to Crumlin Road jail in an open jeep. There they were harshly treated as was common practice at the time and young Carson broke down under severe questioning.

Des was thrown into a cell with no window, no light, no toilet and was locked up for 24 hours. Then after strenuous questioning over prolonged periods he collapsed. However they were unable to produce evidence to charge him and he was interned. The two Goodwins, Martin and Owens were sentenced to five years. Carson was released.

Des was interned in C Block, Crumlin Road jail where he was for a period O/C of the Block. After spending a year and a half in jail he was released from the prison hospital on health grounds. Back in Enniskillen he was unable to resume his work with Ulsterbus as the company was notified by minister of home affairs in the Six Counties Tipping that he was not a suitable person to be employed and that they were removing his PSV licence.

He then became a sales representative for Gael-Linn in Ulster. From the start he was successful although he had to contend with continuous harassment and detention by the RUC in barracks the Six Counties. Des, however, was soon to be promoted to sales supervisor and in the mid-sixties he moved residence to Armagh. From the Gael-Linn office in that city he played a prominent role in building a strong Gael-Linn organisation all over Ulster. He moved to Head Office in Dublin in 1970. Des was appointed national sales manager in the 32 Counties and travelled throughout every county in Ireland until his retirement in 1986.

In Armagh he became involved in the Republican clubs and in Sinn Féin. He became a member of the Provisionals in 1970 and was involved in the reorganisation of Easter parades.

When the split occurred in 1986 he was soon to join Republican Sinn Féin, an organisation he had endeavoured to develop in Armagh and to spread its ideals. A lover of all things Irish, his sincerity, idealism and determination in spite of adversity was an inspiration to all Republicans to continue the struggle until ultimate freedom is achieved. Until his death he was still very active in the Corrigan/McKearney Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin and he will be greatly missed by Republicans not just in Armagh but throughout Ireland.

At the removal to Armagh Cathedral on February 6, his Tricolour-draped coffin was driven through Armagh city, preceded by a piper and accompanied by a Republican Sinn Féin guard of honour.

He was buried in the Republican Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery on February 7. The funeral cortege was met at the cemetery gates by members of the Ard Chomhairle of Republican Sinn Féin, including Ruairí Ó Brádaigh President, both Vice-Presidents, Cathleen Knowles McGuirk and Des Long and Ulster chairperson, Mary Ward.

The graveside proceedings were presided over by Joe O'Neill, Bundoran, wreaths were laid on behalf of Republican Sinn Féin and a piper played a lament. Pádraig Ó Baoighill,a long-time friend and colleague of Des, gave a fitting oration.

SAOIRSE extends its deepest sympathy to his daughter Máire, sons Frankie and Michael, grandchildren and family circle.

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