Today is the 48th anniversary of the death of the heroic Irish patriot Bobby Sands (Irish: Roibeárd Gearóid Ó Seachnasaigh; 9 March 1954 – 5 May 1981) after 66 days on hunger strike at Long Kesh prison. We remember Bobby and his comrades and the blanket men and the women in Armagh. In his solemn memory, we publish a brief collection of quotes, some famous, some less well known.
“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken.”
“We must see our present fight right through to the very end.”
“We refuse to lie here in dishonor! We are not criminals, but Irishmen! This is the crime of which we stand accused.”
“Generations will continue to meet the same fate unless the perennial oppressor-Britain-is removed, for she will unashamedly and mercilessly continue to maintain her occupation and economic exploitation of Ireland to judgment day, if she is not halted and ejected.”
“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their own particular part to play. No part is too great or too small; no one is too old or too young to do something.”
“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children.”
“I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.
“I believe and stand by the God-given right of the Irish nation to sovereign independence, and the right of any Irishman or woman to assert this right in armed revolution. That is why I am incarcerated, naked and tortured.
“Foremost in my tortured mind is the thought that there can never be peace in Ireland until the foreign, oppressive British presence is removed, leaving all the Irish people as a unit to control their own affairs and determine their own destinies as a sovereign people, free in mind and body, separate and distinct physically, culturally and economically.
“I believe I am but another of those wretched Irishmen born of a risen generation with a deeply rooted and unquenchable desire for freedom. I am dying not just to attempt to end the barbarity of H-Block, or to gain the rightful recognition of a political prisoner, but primarily because what is lost in here is lost for the Republic and those wretched oppressed whom I am deeply proud to know as the ‘risen people’.”
“They will not criminalise us, rob us of our true identity, steal our individualism, depoliticise us, churn us out as systemised, institutionalised, decent law-abiding robots. Never will they label our liberation struggle as criminal.”
“I am standing on the threshold of another trembling world. May God have mercy on my soul.”
“I may die, but the Republic of 1916 will never die. Onward to the Republic and liberation of our people.”
“Ní bhrisfidh siad mé mar tá an fonn saoirse agus saoirse mhuintir na hEireann i mo chroí. Tiocfaidh lá éigin nuair a bheidh an fonn saoirse seo le taispeáint ag daoine go léir na hEireann ansin tchífidh muid eirí na gealaí.”
[If they aren’t able to destroy the desire for freedom, they won’t break you. They won’t break me because the desire for freedom, and the freedom of the Irish people is in my heart. The day will dawn when all the people of Ireland will have the desire for freedom to show. It is then we’ll see the rising of the moon]
Originally published May 4, 2016
Today is the birthday of Bobby Sands