On 8 August 1981 Thomas McElwee from South Derry became the ninth man to die in the H-Block hunger strike. His cousin Francis Hughes had been the second man to die (eight days after Bobby Sands) and both cousins are buried together in the same cemetery in Bellaghy.
In a forthcoming book, The Comrades, Colm Scullion, who was arrested with Thomas and his brother Benedict on the same IRA operation, speaks movingly of his friend and fellow blanket man, about how courageous he was on the protest. In this extract he talks about innocent, childhood days.
Another childhood friend Chris Glacken is interviewed here as part of the Guthanna ’81/Voices ’81 series.
And at 7pm there will be another tribute paid to Thomas here.
Before he died Thomas left the following simple but moving message: