Friends of Sinn Féin USA
In Case You Missed It. Interview with Former Hunger Striker Laurence McKeown
Last Sunday marked the ending of the 1981 Hunger Strike. Friends of Sinn Féin recorded and broadcast this interview to mark that the 40th Anniversary of that event with one of those centrally involved.
Laurence joined the fast after the deaths of Bobby Sands, Francis Hughes, Raymond McCreesh, and Patsy O’Hara. During his time on Hunger Strike, six more prisoners would die.
Confined to the Prisoner hospital with the other Hunger Strikers, after 70 days without food Laurence lapsed into a coma. When unconscious his family authorized medical intervention to save his life and end his hunger strike.
On his return from the hospital, Laurence re-joined the fellow Irish Republican Prisoners in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison.
He was centrally involved in compiling and editing a book on the prisoners' accounts of the protests and the Hunger Strike. The manuscript was smuggled out of the jail and was subsequently published as “Nor Meekly Serve My Time”. It is the definitive account of Blanket protests and Hunger Strikes as told by the prisoners themselves.
Laurence was eventually freed in 1992 and went to complete a Ph.D. and build a career in writing, community organizing, and film making. He remains a committed republican and as the title of this Ph.D. described, a proud member of a band of “Unrepentant Fenian Bastards”
In this interview, Laurence talks about his life in jail, his time on the hunger strike, producing “Nor Meekly Serve My Time” and the legacy of 1981.