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Northern Ireland Political Ephemera
- Examples of Political Handkerchiefs Made in Prisons

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Photographs: Mary Harris ... Page Compiled: Martin Melaugh


The photographs and information that appear below are based on a small private collection of political handkerchiefs. The handkerchiefs were collected by Kathleen Benson and her daughter Mary Harris. CAIN is grateful to Mary Harris for providing photographs of the items and allowing them to included in the information on political ephemera materia.

The handkerchiefs were produced by republican prisoners during the 1970s. Political slogans and messages were drawn onto white handkerchiefs. Prisoners also produced other 'prison art' using different materials such as leather. The items were usually given to family members or sold to generate funds for family support.

Click on the photographs to view a larger version.

Political Handkerchiefs - Prison Art

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 1

Description: Four provincial flags drawn at each corner; Irish tricolour flag and Provisional IRA flag in centre with shamrock motif; inscription; signed.

Inscription: A-WING | PROVO | I.R.A | H.Q

Signed: Jimmy Doherty 25/3/72 Crumlin Prison

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 2

Description: Central portrait of Patrick Pearse with Irish tricolour flag and 'Starry Plough' flag; extract from poem; inscription; signed.

Inscription: CITIZENS ARMY | EASTER 1916 | Padraig. H. Pearse | Executed 1916 | |
Mother Ireland I have loved thee, | With a love that knew no fear, |
I have drawn the sword to free thee, | At the flowering of the year. | But a hand was raised to smite me, | As I stooped to kiss thy brow, | And the arm that would have freed thee, | By my side hangs helpless now. | P.H. Pearse

Signed: From James A.Wing Crumlin Prison

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 3

Description: Seven portraits of the signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic plus central female figure with Irish tricolour flag; inscription; signed.

Inscription: Provisional Government | Easter 1916 | |
James. Connolly | Thomas. Clarke | Patrick. Pearse | Thomas. Mac Donagh | Joseph. Plunkett | Eamonn. Ceannt | Sean. Mac Diarmada

Signed: Jimmy Doherty Cage 'D' Magilligan Camp Republican P.O.W 1975

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 4

Description: Depiction of two guns; inscription; signed

Inscription: 1916 - IRA - 1974 | | Thompson | Sub-machine gun | CAL= .45 ins | | Kalashnikov, A.K 47 | Assualt Rifle | CAL.= 7.62 mm

Signed: Jimmy Doherty P.O.W Long Kesh Feb' 74 Concentration Camp | To: "Casanova." "Big Brother." | From: "The Kid Brother." "J.J." O.K

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 5

Description: Outline map of Ireland over colours of Irish tricolour flag; inscriptions; signed

Inscription: EASTER 1973 | They May | Intern Our | Bodies, | But Not | Our | Spirit. | |
From The Ashes Of | Death Came Ireland's | Army. | The Army Of The | People. | Never Again Shall We | Show Despair, The | Flame Of Life Shall | Be Our Guiding Light. | And We Shall March | Triumphant.

Signed: Happy Easter | From James A Wing Crumlin Prison | To All The Family

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 6

Description: Depiction of a member of the British Army's Parachute Regiment within a sniper's scope; inscription; signed.

Inscription: A Snipers Prayer [unable to read lyrics]

Signed: Jimmy Doherty A. Wing Remand Political Prisoner Crumlin Prison 20th April 1973 | To George

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 7

Description: Depiction of a harp and shamrocks; inscription; signed

Inscription: ARMAGH | GAOL 75.

Signed: Mrs Molly Roberts Derry 6 yrs

photo of handkerchief

Handkerchief 8

Description: Depiction of gun over Irish tricolour flag; signatures of female prisoners with home area / town and length of sentence.

Inscription: ARMAGH GAOL | | Provisional I.R.A.

Signed: Mrs Molly Roberts Derry 6 yrs


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