La comunità di Andersonstown ha tributato l’ultimo omaggio a Dolours Price, nella chiesta di St Agnes. Ieri concesse 3 ore di compassionate parole a Marian Price, che ha potuto rendere omaggio alla salma della sorella. Il ricordo di Angela Nelson e l’omelia di Padre Murray


di Angela Nelson, amica intima di Dolours Price

I left the house at 10.15am to make my way to St Agnes’s Chapel in Andersonsontown Road as I knew that there would be a large turnout for Dolours Price’s funeral and parking is a problem on most days. Luckily I was able to park quite close to the chapel and on entering was presented with the opportunity to sign a book of condolence for the Price Family. I also received the mass booklet which had a beautiful photograph of Dolours on the front and a photograph of Marian and Dolours on the back. This had been taken in Armagh Gaol in the late seventies, and when you looked at it you were struck at how pretty and young they both were then. As I made my way to a seat I saw my old friend Monsignor Raymond Murray who was to be the Celebrant of the mass. As I approached him I saw he was upset we hugged each other. We both expressed how sad the news was and how difficult the situation was because of Marian being unable to be there. We both struggled to keep back the tears and I left him to wait on the coffin coming into the chapel. The chapel started to fill and I recognised many faces, Republicans and ordinary people who wanted to pay their respects.

The coffin bearing the Tricolour was carried into the chapel by Dolours ex-husband, Stephen Rea and their two sons Oscar and Danny and Damian Price. I and others in the chapel cried silent tears to the sound of a single unaccompanied voice singing “Soul of My Saviour” an old hymn that reminded me of my childhood. A lot of the mass was in Gaelic and Monsignor Murray sang parts in Gaelic also. The first reading was by Clare Scott from the book of Wisdom (3:1-9) titled “He accepted them as a holocaust”, and the second reading was by Stephen Rea from a letter of St. Paul to the Romans (8:31-35, 37-39). I put in these references for those of you that wish to read these very profound scripts. The prayers of the Faithful were read by Sarah Mc Glinchey and Anna Price and the Offertory Procession Gifts were brought to the altar by Hugh Feeney and Damian Price.

The mass proceeded until it came to Monsignor Murray to speak of Dolours. He recounted how he first met her and Marian when they were repatriated to Armagh Gaol 1975 two weeks after their mother died and they were refused compassionate parole to attend the funeral. He said how sick they were after they arrived due to the 200 day Hunger Strike they had embarked on to be brought home to serve out their sentences on Irish soil of which 167 of those days they were force fed with tubes forced down their throats by 4 warders holding them down. I watched around me in that chapel and the silence while he spoke was unbelievable not even a cough was heard, people were just shaking their heads from side to side as they struggled to imagine how this must have felt to these two young women in an English hellhole every single day, twice a day. He told how when they were eventually released from Gaol they both suffered bad health because of this practice as Marian does now. On a lighter note he recalled Dolours many other talents, her love of the arts, poetry languages and her boys. How she was a very good mother that loved teaching the boys words and their definitions and expanding their knowledge. Her sense of humour, wit and intelligence that would have led to her being a teacher but did not happen due to her taking part in the struggle for Civil and Human Rights for Irish men and women. She joined The Peoples Democracy which was a new organisation and was at the Civil rights March in Derry that had been banned and the marchers were attacked by the R.U.C and she had to make her escape through a river. All of this eventually led to her joining the Republican Movement and the rest is history. As her coffin was carried from the chapel it was accompanied by the Uillean Pipes playing “Mise Eire”.

Outside the chapel everyone gathered to have a chat, seeing people that you only see at funerals or weddings. I could see many ex-prisoners from Armagh Gaol, many blanket men and ex-prisoners, Hunger Strikers, and “Hooded Men” as we know them as in republican communities and old Republicans like Billy Mc Kee. There were at least 1000 people there all in support of The Price family. The funeral cortege made its way down the road flanked by women ex-prisoners from Armagh Gaol while the rain pelted down with such force it felt to me that Ireland wept for the loss of one of her daughters. The heavy rain continued all the way to the cemetery and did not stop until Eamon Mc Cann started to speak, then the sun came out. It was as if Dolours wanted to hear what her friends were saying about her.

After the prayers at the graveside Eamon Mc Cann a well-known civil rights campaigner from Derry who told of knowing Dolours for 40 years and having good days and bad days with her as they discussed political issues. He said he loved her in the bigger sense and said it was the longest love affair that he knew of. This brought laughter to the crowd. He spoke so eloquently of Dolours and her dedication to achieving her goals and aspirations for Ireland. He was followed by Dolours good friend Bernadette Mc Alinskey who never minces her words as we know. She related that her and Dolours in the early days attended civil rights marches then might have skipped down to Donegal to have long conversation about what they could do next. She said many a night they shared a bottle of wine and put right the wrongs of the world. Bernadette said Dolours lacked patience and she wanted to see the changes there and then. It was a lovely tribute to her. It ended there.

I spoke to many people there today all were very sad; all were annoyed at the continuation of Marian’s imprisonment. Other than her family and their obvious grief I went over and spoke to her dear comrade Hugh Feeney who was deeply upset. He was one of the ten volunteers who were part of the London bombing operation that was jailed the others were split up but he and Marian, Dolours and Gerry Kelly were the four that were together and firmed strong friendships throughout that period. They were the four who went on hunger strike for repatriation to Ireland. Hugh Feeney attends every protest for Marian’s release and had remained close friends with the two girls all these years. He said this to me with tears in his eyes “of the four of us, she is buried, Marian is in a hospital prison, I am here”.

I will end here with these words, many of you genuinely could not make it to Dolour’s funeral but there were many that choose to stay away because of her different and critical views of the current strategy (as it is called), and to those individuals I say “Shame on you”. Dolours and Marian Price gave unselfishly for Irelands Freedom and did more than their fair share and have paid a heavy price for their sacrifice.

Shame on you for not paying her the respect she so earned.

Omelia di Padre Murray

‘The souls of the virtuous are in the hands of God’, so says the First Reading taken from the book of Wisdom. Today we give back into the hands of God the soul of Dolours our sister. Wisdom is a rich word. It is an understanding of what is important in life. It is an ability to see things in perspective, to discern what is of lasting value, what has an eternal edge to it, and what is of passing concern. Every human being struggles with the meaning of life. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Gospel today, Jesus makes promises – the kingdom of heaven, comfort, full satisfaction, mercy, the vision of God, great reward for those who are pure of heart, who live spiritually, humbly, mercifully, in accordance with God’s will. To the world it is a contradiction that God equates persecution and mourning with happiness. God’s ways are not our ways. But we believe he is our providence and he will bring us safely home, even if we walk through the valley of darkness. Like Jesus we abandon ourselves into the Father’s hands. Then we are blessed with salvation and eternal glory.

Dolours was a young girl at the time of the Civil Rights Movement and was caught up in sympathy for those who suffered injustice. That led her into the political world – she was a member of the People’s Democracy, walked in the Burntollet march and was thrown into the river when it was attacked. From our acquaintance with Dolours we know that she was a philosopher searching for answers to problems of justice and human rights, not only in Ireland but internationally. The rest of her political life is well known to you.

Dolours’ family can relate her nature and her talents, most of which is outside the knowledge and understanding of those who did not know her personally. She was clever and witty, full of fun, held people enthralled by her conversation. She was very devoted to her parents. Her mother died on 1st February 1975. Their mother never saw Dolours and Marian back in Ireland. They did not get compassionate leave from prison in England to attend her funeral. A week after her death they were repatriated to Ireland. That grief of not seeing their mother again never found closure with them. Dolours’ father Albert died on 31 July 1996. She had a great relationship with him and the family have many memories of the fun and banter exchanged between Dolours and their father. As for the rest of the family, Dolours and Marian were like bosom twins and Clare and Damian, sister and brother, loved both of them to bits supporting them in all their needs.

Dolours was a very talented person. She was just six months short of qualifying as a teacher in St Mary’s Training College when she was arrested. Her artistic talents were many – art, poetry, musician, command of language, hands for anything including fashion. I was speaking to Stephen Rea last Friday – I hadn’t met him since I officiated at his and Dolours wedding in St Patrick’s Cathedral Armagh. In the artistic line he was telling me of Dolours great understanding of literature and drama and how the theatre people loved her. In later life she was one of three who won a scholarship to study law in Trinity College Dublin but illness prevented her continuing the course after the first year. Friends speak of her great generosity, a wide compassion, always wanting to help others and share her time with them. As regards Danny and Oscar her sons, she was both mother and ardent teacher. She loved exploring words with them, all the time expanding their vocabulary and Oscar and she could spend hours philosophising. She was proud of their achievements – made sure they got a Gaelic schooling from naiscoil onwards. Dolours had a great sense of being a Belfast woman and did her best to see that her sons did not lose their Belfast accents when they moved from Belfast to live in Dublin. Of course having been a chaplain in Armagh Prison for 19 years I knew Dolours and Marian well when they were there and became acquainted with the Price family. Both were released on grounds of serious ill-health related to the sufferings of their hunger strike and forced feeding. They were in danger of death and received an accelerated release after intercession by the Taoiseach, the Papal Nuncio, Cardinal Tomas O Fiaich and others. Illness never left them. Marian, as you know, has been seriously ill in hospital for the past nine months and Dolours, like Marian, has been ill for years. I visited her in hospital in Dublin a few months ago but was still shocked by her sudden death.

‘Slight was their affliction, great will be their blessing’ says Wisdom – Dolours had her share of suffering all her life. In a strange way she lived up to her name, Dolours, a baptismal name given to her no doubt in devotional memory of Our Lady of Sorrows. The last line of our First Reading. What is the parting word from Wisdom? ‘Grace and mercy await those he has chosen’. Now the Lord welcomes her with his grace, with his lavish love, with his unconditional mercy, with his compassion and understanding of human weakness and sinfulness, and his readiness and eagerness to forgive and to welcome us, in all our weakness, in our humanity which he created and which is so dear to him.

So we this morning are accompanying Dolours by our prayers to her final destination and we gladly hand her over to Jesus our Saviour. As Paul says ‘we belong to the Lord’. It is for Dolours and all of us that he died and came to life. He rushes to meet her at her coming and beside him is his holy Mother Mary. And with them are Dolours’ parents Crissie and Albert and all the family members in heaven and as I have said she will rejoice with them forever. Having passed from death to new life she will be ever present with Stephen, Danny, Oscar, Damian, Clare and Marian, family and friends. And we pray for the wisdom to understand something of what God has prepared for those who love him, or even try to love him. We commend Dolours to the Lord, into his loving hands.

Our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount, his first sermon, our gospel today, swings the pendulum between life and death:

Happy those who know they are spiritually poor; The kingdom of heaven belongs to them, Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them.

This is the good news of Christ who by dying destroyed our death and by rising restored our life. Real optimism. Christ continually emphasises that sorrow will be turned into joy.

(fonte Republican News)


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