Tom Williams - full of youth and hope
By Mick Naughton.
Last Sunday's heavy rainfall did not deter those republicans
gathered to remember one of Ireland's finest sons whose remains
still lie within a Belfast's Crumlin Road jail.
Organised by the National Graves Association the Tom Williams
commemoration was addressed by West Belfast Sinn Féin councillor
``Time goes past as years go onwards, while in my memory fresh I
keep of that night in Belfast prison, when shamelessly I saw men
These well known words of the song quoted by Hartley captured the
heartbreak of his republican comrades in the Crumlin Road jail on
the morning of 2 September 1942 when Tom Williams was hanged.
``In the 45 years since his death,'' Hartley said, ``his generation
has grown older, and in a strange way Tom has grown old with
them. So today, I would like to reflect on Tom, the 18 year old.
``Look around us here today and look for a young person of 18.
Still carrying the traces of their youth, they also carry the
hopes and expectations of lives to be lived to the full. On the
day he was hanged, Tom Williams would have had this look of hope
and expectation. That's why grown hardened men wept bitterly.
``Tom Williams the youth was taken from his family, his community,
his comrades. This type of loss has always been with us who live
in the Irish Republican family. Just over 20 years before Tom's
death another young republican was hanged in a British jail -
Kevin Barry was also 18 years old, and coming into our generation
Gerard McAuley, Jimmy Quigley and Patricia Black all gave their
lives for our freedom and independence - all of them still young
and still growing.
``Tom Williams epitomises our loss, but he also epitomises the
hopes and expectations we all have for our future.''