This is my late mother, Margaret McGuinness Kelly, who was an assistant to James Connolly. Her great friend Winnie Carney was her bridesmaid when she married in 1933. My mother's father and mother where founding members of the Irish Citizens Army in Belfast, and uncle Alfie McClean was the first General Secretary of the Irish Transport Workers Union in Belfast. He was also James Connolly's election agent in 1907 and 1911.

The bag she has on her arm in this photo was made for her by the Republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast between 1956 and 1964. She had two sons in jail at that time -- John and Billy -- but she looked after all of the southern Republican prisoners by providing them with their fruit parcels every Saturday at her own expense as she refused to accept any funding from the Republican families. As she said, there are people out there who need that funding more than we do. When their people came to visit, they would call to our house and sometimes stay with us while they visited their sons -- especially the people from Kerry and Cork.

She was shot by a loyalist / British murder gang during the 1981 hunger strike while going to mass. She was hit four times, but she survived until 1983 when one of the bullets (which they could not remove) slipped into her pancreas. She died on the 3rd of April 1983. Due to her relationship with the Belfast Mater Hospital, the nuns requested that we lay her out in state in the hospital chapel overlooked by the nuns. It was a great honour for our family, and we will always be grateful to the Mercy Order of nuns. For me, she was a true mother of Ireland -- strong, quiet, loyal. No talk, just get on with it, and she did until the day she died.

Rest in peace, mother.

Views: 1082

Tags: Belfast, IRA, Irish Freedom Struggle, Republican

Comment by Bit Devine on September 22, 2014 at 3:44pm

There is a quiet strength about her in this photograph.. It speaks volumes without words..

Go raibh mile maith agat for sharing her story with us

Comment by Gerry Regan on September 24, 2014 at 9:52am

I am thrilled to read this story, and to be reminded of all the great sacrifices made by republicans through the centuries, acting time and again, often against all odds, to restore Irish sovereignty to the people of Ireland.

Comment by Jean Sullivan Cardinal on September 24, 2014 at 12:38pm

She sounds like a wonderful, strong woman.  Thank you for sharing.

Comment by John Anthony Brennan on September 25, 2014 at 3:38pm

A wonderful eulogy to a fine woman.

Comment by Jack Carey on September 30, 2014 at 12:20pm

God bless her and the work that she did.... a candle will be lit at St. Mary's, Annapolis, in her honor

and for your family!!!

Heritage Partner
Comment by That's Just How It Was on May 12, 2016 at 3:51pm

What wonderful memories you have ..... an inspiring story 

Comment by Joe Gannon on May 19, 2016 at 9:21am

Heroes like your mother deserve to be remembered, Philip. Thank you for sharing her story with us.

Comment by David Lawlor on May 28, 2016 at 4:49am

What a  remarkable woman


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