25 February 1957|
Camlough, County Armagh
|Died||21 May 1981(aged 24)|
Cause of death
|Known for||Hunger strike of 61 days, from 22 March 1981|
Raymond McCreesh (Irish) Réamonn Mac Raois (25 February 1957 – 21 May 1981) was a volunteer in the South Armagh Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA). He is best known for his death whilst on hunger strike in the Maze Prison.
Raymond Peter McCreesh, the seventh in a family of eight children, was born in St. Malachy's Park, Camlough on 25 February 1957. He was born into a strong Republican family, and was active in the Republican movement from the age of 16. McCreesh attended the local primary school in Camlough, St Malachy's, and later attended St Colman's College in Newry. Raymond first joined na Fianna Éireann, the IRA's youth wing, in 1973, and later that year he progressed to join the Provisional IRA's South Armagh Brigade. McCreesh had worked for a short time as steelworker in a predominately loyalist factory in Lisburn. However, as sectarian threats and violence escalated, Raymond switched professions to work as a milk roundsman in his local area of South Armagh: an occupation which greatly increased his knowledge of the surrounding countryside, as well as enabling him to observe the movements of British Army patrols in the area.
On 25 June 1976, at the age of 19, McCreesh, along with two other IRA Volunteers, Danny McGuinness and Paddy Quinn, were captured by British paratroopers from the 3rd Battalion, Parachute Regiment. All three were sentenced to 14 years.
Danny McGuinness, who had had taken cover in a disused quarry outhouse, was captured in a follow-up operation the next day. The fourth member of the group, who had been struck by three bullets, in the leg, arm and chest, managed to crawl away and to elude the massive follow-up search. Catholic parish priests facilitated their surrender.
On 2 March 1977, McCreesh and Paddy Quinn were convicted and sentenced to fourteen years in prison for attempted murder, possession of a rifle and ammunition and a further five years for IRA membership.
Raymond McCreesh Park
A Newry playground has been named after McCreesh after a motion led by Sinn Féin and SDLP and independent representatives on Newry and Mourne District Council was passed. Unionists were unhappy with this and appealed to the Equality Commission which called for an equality impact assessment in 2008. The council sub-committee responsible for the assessment decided that naming the park after McCreesh complies with their legal requirement to "promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different religious belief and political opinion"
- Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 264. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
- Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981 (Sinn Féin publication)
- Two Lives and Two Deaths for Ireland
- The British Army in Northern Ireland. Michael Dewar. Guild Publishing
- Raymond McCreesh
- McCreesh Biography from IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981
- "Playground named after IRA gunman Raymond McCreesh". Belfast Newsletter.