Bobby Sands Mural Belfast – Facts
Location of Mural: 49, Falls Road, Belfast, BT13 2QR. Gable end of the Sinn Féin Head Quarters.
Date Mural Painted: 1998
Bobby Sands Mural Background
Painted in 1998, the Bobby Sands Mural in Belfast depicts the smiling image, often considered iconic of IRA leader Bobby Sands. Sands led the hunger strike movement while imprisoned in the H block of Long Kesh Prison. The smiling pose is based upon a photograph taken of him during his imprisonment.
The mural is painted on the Walls of the Sinn Fein Political Party Press Office in Falls Road Belfast. Sands was elected to UK parliament during his interment, yet he never served as an MP because he died in prison from the hunger strike of 1981.
The mural displays two phrases “Everyone A Republican or Otherwise, has their Own Particular Role to Play,” and “Our Revenge Will Be The Laughter Of Our Children.”
The Bobby Sands Story
Robert (Bobby) Sands was born on 9th March 1954 in Belfast and lived in Rathcoole. Sands attended Stella Maris School, and left school in 1969, aged 15. In 1972, Bobby’s parent’s home, where he also lived, was attacked by a Loyalist mob, as sectarian violence in Rathcoole and other part of Belfast intensified during the Northern Ireland troubles.
The Sands family were forced from their home and moved to the Twinbrook area in West Belfast. Bobby joined the Provisional IRA soon after this on his 18th birthday. In October 1972 handguns were found in the house where Sands was staying and in 1973 he was sentenced to 5 years in prison for handgun possession.
Released from jail on April 1976, Bobby resumed IRA activity and was arrested again in 1977, for gun possession. This time Bobby Sands was sentenced to 14 years, and would serve his sentence at Long Kesh Maze Prison, known colloquially as The Maze or H-Blocks. In 1980, whilst still in prison Bobby Sands was chosen as the officer commanding the IRA.
IRA prisoners in The Maze wanted special category status and refused to wear prison uniforms. This started what was known as the Blanket Protect, which then led to the No-Wash Protect, which then turned into the Hunger Strike. The 5 demands that Bobby Sands and other IRA prisoners wanted were:
- No prison uniform
- Not to do prison work
- Free to associate and mix with other prisoners
- One visit, letter and parcel a week
- Restoration of remission lost through the protest
Bobby Sands and other IRA prisoners wanted to be considered as political prisoners. During the Hunger Strike, Frank Maguire, a Members of the British Government died on 5th March 1981. This led to a Bio Election and Bobby Sands was the candidate selected. On the 9th April 1981, Bobby Sands won the seat and became the youngest Member of Parliament with 30,493 votes. Still in prision and on the Hunger Strike Bobby died on 5th May 1981, as which time he had been fasting 66 days. Another 9 IRA prisoners died after Bobby Sands and these men were known as the 10 Irish Hunger Strikers.
You can see this famous West Belfast Mural, and many more, on our Belfast Murals Taxi Tour.
Bobby Sands wrote poetry throughout the protest. His best known poems include Weeping Winds and The Rhythm of Time.
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