Sunday, 23 March 2014


Raymond McCreesh
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Raymond McCreesh
Born 25 February 1957
Camlough, County Armagh
Died 21 May 1981 (aged 24)

Cause of death Hunger strike
Organization Provisional IRA
Known for Hunger strike of 61 days, from 22 March 1981

Raymond Peter "Ray" McCreesh (25 February 1957 – 21 May 1981) was a volunteer in the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army(IRA).[1][2] He is best known for his death whilst on a hunger strike in Long Kesh whilst serving a 14-years as an IRA Volunteer.[3][4]

Contents [hide]
1 Background
2 Capture
3 Hunger strike
4 Raymond McCreesh Park
5 Other information
6 References


Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in St. Malachy's Park,Camlough on 25 February 1957. He was born into a strong Republican family, and was active in the Republican movement from the age of 16. McCreesh attended the local primary school in Camlough, St Malachy's, and later attended St Colman's College in Newry. Raymond first joined na Fianna Éireann, the IRA's youth wing, in 1973, and later that year he progressed to join the Provisional IRA's South Armagh Brigade. McCreesh had worked for a short time as steelworker in a predominately loyalist factory in Lisburn. However, as sectarian threats and violence escalated, Raymond switched professions to work as a milk roundsman in his local area of South Armagh: an occupation which greatly increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British Army patrols in the area.

The PSNI Historical Enquiries Team linked McCreesh, along with two others, to a string of IRA attacks committed with the Armalite he was caught with:[5]

The Kingsmill massacre in 1976; the killing of RUC Constable David McNeice and rifleman Michael Gibson (Royal Jackets) at an ambush at Meigh in 1974;[5] the attempted killing of Protestant farmer Samuel Rodgers at Camlough in 1975 who Raymond McCreesh delivered milk to as a milkman;[5] the attack on a military helicopter and security force personnel at Carrickbroad, Forkhill, in 1976;[citation needed] the attack on British Occupation force personnel at Mountain House, Belleek, Newry, in 1976, where the Armalite was recovered.[5]

On 25 June 1976, at the age of 19, McCreesh, along with two other IRA Volunteers, Danny McGuinness and Paddy Quinn, were captured by British paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. All three were sentenced to 14 years.[6]

Danny McGuinness, who had had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse, was captured in a follow-up operation the next day. The fourth member of the group, who had been struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow-up search. Catholic parish priests facilitated their surrender.[7][8]
Hunger strike[edit]

On 2 March 1977, McCreesh and Paddy Quinn were convicted and sentenced to fourteen years along with possession of a rifle and ammunition and a further five years for IRA membership.[3][4]

One of the soldiers who captured them, Lance Corporal David Jones was later killed by Francis Hughes.[citation needed]

Ray McCreesh joined the blanket protest and took part in the 1981 Irish hunger strike, dying after 61 days on hunger strike.

Gravestone erected for Ray McCreesh.
Raymond McCreesh Park[edit]

A Newry playground has been named after McCreesh after a motion led by Sinn Féin and SDLP and independent representatives on Newry and Mourne District Council was passed. Unionists were unhappy with this and appealed to the Equality Commission which called for an equality impact assessment in 2008. The council sub-committee responsible for the assessment decided that naming the park after McCreesh complies with their legal requirement to "promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different religious belief and political opinion"[5]

A council decision to name a children's park after a convicted IRA man is to be formally investigated by the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland. In a statement on Thursday (07/03/2013), the Equality Commission said its investigation would consider whether the council had failed to have due regard to the need to promote equality and good relations between people of different religious beliefs and political opinion.
Other information[edit]

He is commemorated on the Irish Martyrs Memorial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.[citation needed]

Jump up^ Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 264. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
Jump up^ Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981 (Sinn Féin publication)
^ Jump up to:a b Two Lives and Two Deaths for Ireland
^ Jump up to:a b Guardian
^ Jump up to:a b c d e "Playground named after IRA gunman Raymond McCreesh". Belfast Newsletter.
Jump up^ The British Army in Occupied Ireland. Michael Dewar. Guild Publishing
Jump up^ Raymond McCreesh
Jump up^ McCreesh Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981


1981 Irish hunger strike

Participants who died

Bobby Sands
Francis Hughes
Raymond McCreesh
Patsy O'Hara
Joe McDonnell
Martin Hurson
Kevin Lynch
Kieran Doherty
Thomas McElwee
Michael Devine

Participants who survived

Brendan McLaughlin
Paddy Quinn
Laurence McKeown
Pat McGeown
Matt Devlin
Liam McCloskey
Patrick Sheehan
Jackie McMullan
Bernard Fox
Hugh Carville
John Pickering
Gerard Hodgkins
James Devine

Political and religious figures

Margaret Thatcher
Garret FitzGerald
Charles Haughey
Humphrey Atkins
James Prior
Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
Owen Carron
Tomás Ó Fiaich
Basil Hume
Denis Faul
John Magee

Key events

Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, April 1981
Irish general election, June 1981
Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election, August 1981
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