Wednesday, January 8, 2014

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Is This Rare Footage of Gerry Adams at Bodenstown 1969?

Ed Moloney with a piece on Bodenstown 1969. It initially featured on The Broken Elbow on 7 January 2014. 

Hat tip to Mick Browne for directing me to this YouTube video of a rare home movie of the June 1969 Bodenstown commemoration made by Terry McMillen. It is a fascinating piece of film made just two months before the Loyalist incursions of August 1969 which would split the Republican movement and divide many of those marching that day to honour Wolfe Tone, the founding father of Irish Republicanism.

One of the striking aspects of the day is the sheer size of the crowd, surely not usually as large as this and very possibly a reflection of the sense of impending crisis North of the Border, and very quickly South of it too, and the huge boost all that would give to armed republicanism.

Leadership figures are easy to spot and identify. Cathal Goulding, then Chief of Staff, is there chatting at one point to Belfast Adjutant Jimmy Sullivan. Tomas MacGiolla, Seamus Costello and Billy McMillen, then OC of Belfast are all on or around the platform.

Less certain are the identities of figures who were less well known at that time but who would later make major marks on Irish history. Readers are invited to submit their views but here are a couple of conjectural spots by myself and others who have viewed the video.

For example, is this person in this screen grab Ruari O Bradaigh, soon to be one of the leaders of the Provisional split from the IRA and Sinn Fein, who then led another split away from the Provos in 1986? O Bradaigh died last year. He can be seen at 12:22 minutes into the film. Here he is, I think:

Is this Ruairi O Bradaigh?
Is this Ruairi O Bradaigh?

Someone else has spotted a person they believe to be Charlie Bird, the famous RTE broadcaster who in those early days was better known for his radical socialist views. Bird later outraged some of us in the media when he quit as father of the NUJ chapel at RTE when the union decided to join a British challenge to censorship laws at the European Commission on Human Rights. Anyway make your own minds up:

Charlie Bird?
Charlie Bird?

The most intriguing figure in the home movie appears just after six minutes. He is marching behind the colour party and can be seen on the viewer’s right. It looks very much like Gerry Adams, at least to me. He would then have been just 20 or 21 years old and still working as a barman at the Duke of York’s in Belfast. Have a look, make your own minds up and please send your views in. Here he is:

Is this Gerry Adams, wearing classes, on the right?
Is this Gerry Adams, wearing classes, on the right?

And here is the full video which is a really fascinating piece of history. Full credit to Terry McMillen for making it available. Enjoy:


Mairéad said...

I strongly believe that's Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. He had quite a distinctive face and bearing, at least to me. Though he wasn't a close relative, there's little mistaking the resemblance that runs in our family.

I'm not as sure of the other. But, the eye-glasses and frames are about right for what I've seen in photos of Gerry from that era. Without the beard, it's easier to compare facial structure. If I had to guess, I'd believe that is Gerry, also.

Good luck with this. I've little doubt others will know far more than myself!

Malachi O'Doherty said...

That coat Gerry is wearing was left behind in the Duke of York by a peeler, according to Before the Dawn. Also wondering if the guy in front of him is Joe McCann, who was his close mate at the time, but just going by a resemblance to a police photo in The Lost Revolution.

Ciarán Cunningham said...

Thanks for putting this up, my brother just called and said he'd picked my late father out of the footage. Around 9:36

itsjustmacker said...

I would say without a doubt that is Gerry Addams, he never had a beard in those days.

Belated Christmas and New Year Greatings to all during my stay in hospital, its just test after test after test while the weight still drops of me through sweat ,one more biopsy left and hopefully i will get some treatment.

sorry., I know this is of thread.

Tomás Gorman said...

Joe McCann can be seen at 4.41

Tain Bo said...

Definitely not of thread Macker’s like many of the posters here would want to be kept updated on your medical problems.

It is not much but all I can do is offer you a few words of encouragement and support.
Hoping you receive the proper treatment sooner rather than later.
Like I said I am sure many if not all TPQ readers and psoters wish you well and if you can keep on fighting the good fight.

AM said...

Have just learned that Seamus Murphy was responsible for recording this event.

Seamus was a 50's veteran and was jailed for activities in England. He shared cells with the Cypriots.

Mick O'Riordan of the CPI is in the video and several of the young Fianna members were dead within a few years of the recording.

Appreciation to the friend who brought this to our attention

AM said...


as Tain Bo says, not at all. It is great to have you around here and we hope the situation improves. I will e mail you later today.

Tomás Gorman said...

Sorry that should say 1.41 not 4.41