It was standing room only as hundreds of Kerry Republicans turned up at the Rose Hotel in Tralee on Thursday night for the launch of the book: Ireland’s Hunger for Justice, The Story of Our Hunger Striker Martyrs.
By: Cathal Foley
MC for the night was Cllr. Toireasa Ferris who started proceedings by asking the youngest Sinn Fein member in Kerry, Daithi Fitzgerald from Ardfert, to read an excerpt on Thomas Ashe from the book.
Another young Republican from Tralee, Saoirse ní Chofaigh read another passage from the publication.
First Guest Speaker
Cllr Ferris then introduced the first guest speaker of the night, Gerry Kelly MLA.
Mr. Kelly gave a detailed description of his experience of forced feeding, which he endured over 200 days while on hunger strike in an English prison.
The crowd was gripped by his vivid description of the process which killed Thomas Ashe in 1917.
Pól Ó Clúbháin from Caherciveen then read another extract from the book. This was followed by presentations to two Kerry Republicans, Moss Falvey from Ballybunion and Danny O’Sullivan from Tralee, who endured hunger strike in Portlaoise Prison in 1975 and 1977.
Tadhg Dennehy from Firies then recited a poem. John Breen from Castleisland read another extract from the book covering the 1981 period.
Standing Ovation for President
The second guest speaker of the night received a standing ovation from the large attendance when he was introduced.
President of Sinn Féin Gerry Adams paid tribute to the 22 hunger strikers who died in British and Irish prisons during the period from 1917 to 1981.
He spoke of the heroism of the men while highlighting that they were just ordinary people thrown into extraordinary circumstances.
They used the only available tool they had to fight injustice and that was by hunger strike.
The night ended with a lament from a piper.
Queues of people stayed late into the night to get their books signed by the speakers and committee members.
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