Republican News · Thursday 30 March 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Sean Donlan

Everyone who lives around the Archway area of Islington will be saddened to learn of the death at the age of 83 of local character Sean Donlan. With his walking stick, a huge bushy beard and his fiercely republican views, Sean was a character beloved in his local neighbourhood by virtually everyone who know him.

Born into a republican family in Ireland that had to leave due to repression and harassment by the pro-Treatyites in the early 1920's, young Sean spent part of his youth growing up in East Africa, where typically, he was an early supporter of the anti-colonialist struggle.

After moving to North London, he was left a widower with a young son of two after his wife was the victim of a tragic accident. Although bringing up his son single handed, Sean still found time to get involved in all sorts of political activities in Northern London. He made friends with all sorts of people in the local multi-ethnic community and became knowledgeable in a whole range of international subjects by befriending different people.

In the 1970s, Sean joined Islington North Labour Party and was one of a great number of activists who persuaded the constituency that it should support the demand of Troops Out and a United Ireland free from English rule.

Sean was also one of the founding members of the now Caxton House community centre in 1976, which has become a home to dozens of good causes over the years and has hosted hundreds of Irish and republican events. Sean was active on its social committee and established a profile around the area by the simple act of talking to anyone prepared to listen.

After I became Member of Parliament for Islington North, he was always one of my staunchest supporters whenever the ``Labour hierarchy'' disproved of my speaking out on Irish issues. Because of Sean and comrades like him, I always had the backing of my constituency party on Irish issues.

One of Sean's proudest moments was when Gerry Adams came to visit us in North Islington. The small reception for him at the Islington Irish centre led to Sean being photographed shaking Gerry's hand - a picture shown thenceforth to all visitors to Sean's house and proudly displayed in his window for the world to see.

In later years, Sean found happiness with Leanora and together they were regular attenders at Labour Party and community funtions. They always flew the Irish Tricolour in their front garden to annoy any passing Tories and were always first to sign my nomination papers whenever I came up for reelection.

We sincerely miss you Sean as a comrade and someone who always managed to be cheerful when the rest of us were depressed about events. Farewell old friend - you never got to see a United Ireland but you did help to bring the day close.


Sean's funeral mass will take place at St Joseph's Church, Highgate, on Friday 31 March, with funeral afterwards at Finchley Cemetery.

Elizabeth Gilhooly

It is with deep regret, that we record the death of Elizabeth (Betty) Gilhooly, Foxwood, Aughnasheelin, County Leitrim, on Christmas Day 1999. .

Betty was predeceased by her husband Mick on Good Friday, April 1984, and is survived by her son, Pat, sister, brother and a large circle of friends and relations.

The Gilhoolys were a strong republican family. Mick was interned in the Curragh concentration camp in the 1940s. Their home was always an open house to republicans on the run. For 30 years of the recent phase of the freedom struggle, it was a home for many republicans seeking shelter. The house was a target of surveillance and dawn raids by Special Branch gardaí. Betty Gilhooly never wavered under such pressure. All who stayed with her will remember her good humoured banter but above all her good food.

May her soul be happy with God and may the sod of her beloved Aughnasheelin rest lightly on her noble breast.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh sí.

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