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Photographs of Irish Nationalists Who Died Protesting British Rule Plastered on Subway Stations in Western Queens

Images of Irish nationals who died while protesting British rule were put up at subway stations in Sunnyside and Astoria recently (Photos via When New York Was Irish Instagram page)

July 13, 2021 By Michael Dorgan

A series of photographs honoring Irish nationalists who died 40 years ago while on a hunger strike in Northern Ireland have gone up at two subway stations in western Queens.

The images were put up at stops in Astoria and Sunnyside to pay tribute to 10 men who died while imprisoned at a jail near Belfast in 1981.

The men were on a hunger strike protesting conditions for political prisoners at the Maze prison and were part of the Irish nationalist movement that sought to end British rule in Northern Ireland.

The images consist of portrait photographs of each hunger striker who died while protesting at the prison. Their names are printed in text underneath each photograph.

Images of the makeshift murals have been posted to the Instagram account called When New York Was Irish. The owner of the account said that members of the Astoria-based Irish sports club O’Donovan Rossa are responsible for the commemorations, according to Irish Central.

“Queens, New York has a long-established Irish community and strong links to Ireland’s revolutionary history throughout its various junctures,” a post on the Instagram account notes.

The first set of images went up near the 30th Avenue Subway station in Astoria on May 5 to mark the 40th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands who was the leader of the hunger strike. Sands was the first member of the group to die and had gone 66 days without food.

The images were plastered to a shuttered storefront adjacent to the 30th Avenue Subway station’s southwest entrance. The 10 photographs were put up in an “H” shape to symbolize the notorious layout of the jail where the prisoners were being incarcerated. The jail consisted of a series of H-Block buildings.

Margaret Keogh, a former Irish revolutionary, once lived close to the station at 44th Street and 34th Avenue, an attributing post from the WNYWI Instagram account stated.

 

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A post shared by When New York was Irish (@wnywi)

The murals are going up on the anniversary of the death of each hunger striker at various Irish enclaves across the New York region. Murals associated with the group have also appeared in Woodlawn in the Bronx as well as in East Durham in Greene County.

A mural went up at the 46th Street Bliss station in Sunnyside on July 8 to commemorate the death of hunger-striker Joe McDonnell. He was the fifth man to die during the protest.

The mural consists of five photographs on each side of the entrance. An image of the mural was also posted to the WNYWI Instagram account with a description of some of the Irish connections to Sunnyside.

“A strong Irish population has been ever-present in this community and it was also home to the renowned Celtic Park,” the post reads.

“The park, located between 48th and 50th Avenues and 43rd and 44th Streets, was an Irish cultural and sporting hub and the original home of Gaelic sports in New York.”

The post also notes that Sunnyside was an important place to raise money for the cause of Irish freedom in the 1960s while former U.S. President John F. Kennedy held a political rally at Sunnyside Gardens in 1960.

In his speech, Kennedy said that “the Irish are very big out here.

Kennedy’s four grandparents were children of Irish immigrants.

 

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A post shared by When New York was Irish (@wnywi)

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38 Comments

Click for Comments 
Defund Jimmy

Contempt for the Irish is still just under the surface. No sign of any moderation of anti-Irish comments.

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Gia

The only thing most Americans know about the Irish are saint Patrick’s day leprechauns and bars.

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Ulysses McGumption

Majority of Irish people did not support the aforementioned hunger strikers let alone their devious acts of violence which got them jailed in the first place. Will those people who illegally posted these images also commemorate the deaths of those who died at the hands of these folks? NYC does not need commemorations to terrorists plastered on their walls. They got more important things to think about.

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Queens has gone crazy

Thank you after what nyc had been through that people would celebrate terror supporters is unconscionable
What has happened to queens ?
People celebrating Hamas and now this
The crazies have moved here

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John Hughes

You’re privileged believe me you’ve been lucky to have experienced a different life than I was born into…I’m born from war unfortunately…I wish you nothing but the best…SOME PEOPLE WATCH THINGS HAPPEN…SOME PEOPLE MAKE THINGS HAPPEN…SOME PEOPLE WONDER WHAT JUST HAPPENED….

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John Hughes

Just out of curiosity I don’t want to pass judgment mind you but coming from a place called South Armagh and growing up looking under the car for a bomb placed by Loyalists/Off duty British Soldiers/The RUC or all of the above on their own or together when boredom set in I guess…I’d then try to go on my merry way…I wonder if you’re IRISH and if you are you come across as one of those people that consider me BRITISH….to witch i reply FREE STATE BASTARD

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Ulysses McGumption.

Think you have it backwards. ‘‘Twas N.I. law enforcement who had to look under their cars. South Armagh was populated mostly by self-pitying hoodlums and miscreants.

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Learn some history!

What would these “revolutionaries” think of the fact that in Ireland you can get arrested for breaking lockdown rules? Ireland -a country where until recently, you COULD NOT EVEN GET A DIVORCE! Ireland: country which lowered the flag when Hitler committed suicide and PUNISHED the brave Irish who volunteered to fight fascism in Europe. But it’s ok to hate on the Brits!

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Ted

I’m not sure why Queens is the place for everyones protests, murals, history lessons, graffiti to be posted anywhere some group or person decides. Our neighborhoods look like a dumping ground

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Mo

These Irish people still think they rule Sunnyside. Look what happened when Muslims put that sign on the theatre.

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Where's Jimmy?

Who authorized this? Will there be memorials to the brave people on the flight who fought back against the Al Queda terrorists? What about our First Responders? The 9/11 anniversary will be coming up and it will be greeted by our NYC elected officials with a big YAWN. That means you, Jimmy.

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Nobody Likes You

What are you talking about? All victims of 9/11 have their names read aloud on national TV every year. There are memorials to them all over NYC. You’re whining about posters in a subway? Pathetic.

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Why should we only see the world through your eyes?

WJ- Nobody is stopping you from starting a memorial for a cause you may hold dear or feel should be memorized. Just because somebody shows interest in recognizing a “specific” event or cause does not mean they are ignoring other events or causes and it does not say there isn’t room for creating a memorial for other events or causes. You’re way too thin skinned and self absorbed get a grip. You come across as an envious self entitled adolescent.

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An intelligent person

No one authorized it, that’s what graffiti/political art is. You could print out pictures of literally anyone you want and paste them, literally, wherever you want. Is it legal? No, but who cares? it’s all stolen land anyways.

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A Normal Person

This is obviously unauthorized. Why would you think otherwise? And what does JVB have to do with it?

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USA USA

Most people walk by look at these photos and ignore them
Why can’t we have photos of the brave people who fought back on the flight 93 ? No that is too pro usa

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Nobody Likes You

Why don’t you spearhead that effort yourself instead of whining about it?

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JM Maspeth

USA USA – Maybe you should get up off your backside and organize such a photo display rather than whining about someone else’s cause and effort?

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An intelligent person

Print out the pictures and paste them if you want. Atleast whoever posted these pictures of hunger strikers (who were right to be protesting the improper treatment of the incarcerated) took the time and energy to memorialize people they deemed worthy; instead of like, you know, just commenting ignorant things on the Sunnyside post.

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Hypocrite much ?

Yet meanwhile the Irish consistently hate on the Jews although like them they fought the brits to have their own country

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Libertas

Much like Ireland seeking full Independence, July 4th doesn’t simply represent USA getting rid of Britian. Independace Day represents getting rid of people who are self anointed to tell people what to think, what to do and how to live. Live bravely, live Free.

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Erin

I’m Irish and still here inSunnyside and so are about twenty of my relatives. We are part of the reason people choose this area to settle in.

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Abdul

Whom do they think these Irish vandals are? Imagine if I put up posters of innocent Muslims imprisoned at Guantanamo.

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An intelligent person

The Irish didn’t fly planes into buildings while shouting to their god.

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Citizen

There’s no innocent Muslims imprisoned at Guantanamo, all guilty of something.

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Say no to terror

Can I put up a photo of lord Mountbatten a great man murdered by the IRA along with several children and an elderly woman ?
Please stop celebrating terrorists
Sunnyside is become a scary place
Up next
Tribute to FALN?

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I Want an Award for Doing My Job

Won’t somebody think of the millionaire royals who imprisoned and tortured Catholics for centuries!

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Anonymous

Agreed. The IRA was a terrorist organization that unfortunately got a lot of support from Irish Americans who romanticized their actions and glazed over their crimes. Talk to Irish from Northern Ireland who lived through the fighting I bet few will have a favorable opinion of them.

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Mae Q

I met Bobby Sands Brother Sean in the late ‘70s. He was raising money for the cause by touring colleges no talking about his brother and the other strikers.

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Bob

Get that crap off the walls! Who cares about Irish people who died. Many others have died. The Irish think they own this place. Get it off!

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Violence is bad

These guys chose to starve themselves
Their victims and the victims of IRA violence did not choose to die
Don’t glorify these people

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