The Blanket

Volunteer Patricia McKay

Brendan Hughes • 8 May 2003

Winding back the clock is something we can all do if we want to fool ourselves. Time moves on regardless of the clock. If it was just as simple to change things by fiddling with the hands of a clock who would not have a try? But as many of our comrades learned to their cost the hands of the clock can have fatal consequences. One wrong move when priming a bomb and setting the clock timer and that was it. Time stopped forever.

As I watch the turn political events have taken in recent years I think back to all those who lost their lives trying to move out of the time warp this society existed in. So many dead and so many casualties - for what? The miles I tramped at the funerals of those who died as a result of the war here would claim more than one pair of Horsey Hughes’s boots. Many of them were decent, good, honest boys and girls who knew little of life other than its injustices, which they fought against.

A place, a comment, an event - it does not take much to bring a sad memory back of young people who should be here with us now, but instead lie up the road in their own silent place. Our local culture has it that the only volunteers who died were members of our own organisation, the Provisional IRA. But that is simply not true.

When I think of how myths develop I look back to 1972 when a gun battle took place in what is known as the Lower Falls. We fought the British Army all day - from corner to corner in the tight streets. Provisional IRA volunteers were not alone that day - members of the Official IRA were there too. One of those involved was a young Official IRA female volunteer. During the fighting I ended up in the same small house as her. The Brits had us pinned down with heavy gunfire from the direction of Conway Mill. She insisted on moving out and making a break for it. She was only 19 and I tried persuading her to hold on until a better chance presented itself. I knew her mother and father and wanted to do what was best for them and for her. My only regret at her being in the Official IRA was that I could not order her to sit tight. It was a different organisation and I had no control over its volunteers.

She walked out the door and the British Army shot her dead. ‘Such is life,’ Ned Kelly would have said. But I think it is more than that. Life should not have to be that way where our young die to resist injustice. She was just a kid - a kid in the Official IRA, like so many who were with me in the Provisional IRA. And so many kids went down the same path as she. A ‘wee Sticky’, she was our comrade. A beautiful kid, Patricia McKay was her name. Although more than 30 years have passed since she lost her life, I have never forgotten her. She deserves to be honoured like every other volunteer from this community who lost their lives fighting the British Army. Whatever benefits we gained from this war, she as much as any other volunteer paid for them with her life’s blood.







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I have spent
many years of my life
in opposition, and
I rather like the role.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

Index: Current Articles

17 February 2007

Brendan Hughes
Archive Material

8 May 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Volunteer Patricia McKay
Brendan Hughes


Death of Barbara Reilly

The Clinton Family


Republicans and the Protestant Working Class
Gerry Ruddy


Suicide is Painless?
Sean Smyth


The Politics of the Undecidable
Liam O Ruairc


Patriotism Polluting Journalism
Anthony McIntyre


At the Theatre

Annie Higgins


4 May 2003


Official Secrets and Official Lies
Carrie Twomey


Iran's Weblog Quandry

Pedram Moallemian


For A Free Press


Tutored, Managed and Castrated
Anthony McIntyre


Forgetting Eric Honniker
Eoghan O’Suilleabhain


Lukacs After Communism
Liam O Ruairc


How's It Goin'?
Brian Mór


Swept Clean

Annie Higgins



The Blanket




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Index: Current Articles
Book Reviews
The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
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