STANDING ROOM ONLY. AND A HACKSAW BLADE IN A BIRTHDAY CAKE....
Apologises for being late with this write-up, but we only got home from the function at 4am on Sunday morning, and had to be out and about for 10am , as we had been asked to help round-up over 600 raffle tickets for another RSF-organised event which was being held on Sunday at 1pm in a venue near the Dublin-Kildare border : then we had to prepare a report on both functions for presentation tonight (Monday 10th) at the usual RSF 'post-mortem' meeting which follows any such event(s), to access how same can be improved etc.
Crowd scene,at just over one hour after the doors were opened!
Anyway: the doors opened for the Hunger-Strike Commemorative function at 8.30pm , to allow the queue that had formed gain entry and, by 9.30pm , extra stools and chairs had to brought-up from the downstairs lounge , which was a sign of things to come!
Crowd still coming in...
"Anyone selling their seat....?"
By half-past-ten, the doors had to be closed and entry refused to new-comers, as there was not even standing room available!
'The Beermats' giving it loads!
The ever-brilliant 'Beermats' were first up and, once again, proved why they have such a large following in that part of Dublin, which is where the lads themselves live. Paddy Sweeney was up next and, as usual, he didn't disappoint. The third act that was booked, Pato Cullen, had, on to his way to the venue earlier that evening, received word of a family emergency and had to understandably absent himself from proceedings - so the 'Beermats' went back on stage after Paddy had finished his 90-minute set.
During a break between the switch-over of acts, RSF President, Des Dalton, received a standing ovation for his speech from the stage, during which he concentrated on the POW's in Portlaoise and Maghaberry Prisons, giving up-to-date accounts of the position those men are in and the severly unjust conditions they are being forced to endure. The function organisers had ensured that everybody present received leaflets on this issue, which contained accurate information on this scandal. Des also gave a personal recollection of the events leading up to the 1981 Hunger Strikes, and linked the experiences of those ten men with those of the twelve hunger-strikers that had preceeded them.
RSF 'Shop' at the gig - a large amount of Republican items were sold at the event.
Also, a photo-copied part-'booklet' , entitled 'The Final Salute : The 22 Hunger-Strikers Who Died Since 1917' was distributed to everybody in the pub - function room, lounge and bar. The 250 part-photo-copied 'booklets' distributed each contained basic details of the 22 hunger-strikers,with the 'proper' version (consisting of 26 pages) on sale in the in-house RSF 'shop' for five euro each: close to 150 were sold throughtout the event , not to mention the brisk sale of republican t-shirts , books , CD's , caps , pens etc.
A raffle was held at the function, with the prizes consisting of republican bodhrons, trouser-belts from Portlaoise Prison, t-shirts , CD's , a framed and etched republican mirror etc - 11 items in total were raffled , with the organisers running out of raffle tickets to sell! However, one of the RSF crew had prepared for such an event, and produced another book of same , which were sold in less than 15 minutes!
One of the raffle prizes......
....and the rest of them!
An unsuspecting member of the audience, Seán Ó Sé , a life-long republican, (and ex-POW) who was ??(!)-years of age was duped into approaching the stage from where a birthday cake , with candles, was produced by his daughters , pictures were taken, a few words in praise of the man were delivered and birthday kisses were exchanged, before he was led, red-faced , shocked and delighted, up to the bar, to recover! The poor man - he genuinely was not expecting any 'show' like that but, with the aid of a few 'shorts' on the house, soon regained his composure!
Finally ,on the only negative note of the evening,three car-loads of Political Police ('Special Branch') were outside the premises from 8pm , stopping and harassing those entering the premises. They were given short answers from those that they did manage to stop, with most of the crowds simply pushing past them, leaving them standing , exposed, on the footpath. But other than that, the function was a 'Class A' success, with every objective been obtained- the 22 Hunger-Strikers were suitably honoured and remembered, and present-day POW's had their plight highlighted. The up-coming Belfast march in support of republican prisoners was mentioned - Saturday May 29th next, 2pm, assemble at Dunville Park for a march to Castle Street - as was the Cumann na mBan fund-raiser, which will be held in the 79'r Pub, Ballyfermot, Dublin, on Friday 18th June next (doors open 8.30pm, admission five euro per person) , the bar staff, pub management and the huge crowd in attendance were all thanked,our National Anthem was sung , and..... we carried-on with a sing-song for another while!
Republican Sinn Féin Poblachtach are to be congratulated for putting such a fine and fitting event together and for, once again, keeping the spirit of Irish Republicanism alive. That organisation has proved - once again - that it is a highly-effective political machine , well capable of effective republican activity at groud level, where it has its roots. Very Well Done on that event , and on the large raffle which it successfully held on Sunday afternoon, 9th May. BEIR BUA!
Thanks for reading,