Gerry O'Hare, Journalist and Republican, 79

Gerry O'Hare with a rare 1927 All Ireland soccer team jersey.

From the Andersonstown News

The death has taken place in Andersonstown, Belfast, of veteran republican Gerry O’Hare who would have been eighty next month.

Gerry was born in Newington, North Belfast, and among his old friends were the later chief photographer with The Irish News, Brendan Murphy, and actor Stephen Rea – that friendship dating back to the 1950s when their two fathers were drinking companions at the ‘Hole in the Wall’ bar in Baltic Avenue.

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Gerry married Rita McCulloch and they had three children, Terry, Rory and Frances, whom they were raising in their home in Ladybrook when the Civil Rights Movement began. Both parents were active in left-wing politics and republicanism and indeed the conflict was to have a profound effect on their subsequent lives.

Gerry was first interned in 1971 at a time when Rita was shot and wounded by the British army in Andersonstown. The couple later separated.

In 1990 Gerry married the journalist and now Pat Finucane Centre staff worker Anne Cadwallader, author of "Holy Cross" and "Lethal Allies," ad for a number of years the Irish Echo's Belfast correspondent.

In May 1972 Gerry escaped a murder attempt by an undercover British army unit which opened fire, killing 44-year-old Patrick McVeigh, a married father of six, and wounding four other local men at a barricade on Finaghy Road North at a time of heightened loyalist assassinations.

In 1973, having moved to Dublin, Gerry was arrested when editor of An Phoblacht and was charged with IRA membership. He was in Mountjoy Prison and was part of the team that assisted the helicopter escape of Seamus Twomey, JB O’Hagan and Kevin Mallon. For his part he was sentenced to another two years, this time in Portlaoise Prison.

Around 1977 Gerry began working for the Irish Press as a staff reporter, rising to become a Parliamentary Reporter and Deputy News Editor under the paper’s legendary editor, Tim Pat Coogan. Gerry also specialised in travel writing and tourism (even though he was barred from many countries because of his activism!).

It was in 1986 that he met the then BBC’s Dublin correspondent, Anne Cadwallader.

Gerry loved football and was a great supporter of Arsenal and the Irish football team way before the Jack Charlton era. When the Irish Press closed in 1995 he used his statutory redundancy pay for a new venture, Travel Extra, which thrived on his sheer force of personality.

But in 2006 he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease which year after year eroded his health and vitality and eventually left him totally confined.

Gerry loved life and to see him fade and fade away to a shadow of his former self was so sad. He always remained loyal to the Republican movement and defended the republican cause wherever he was and whoever he was with.

In her homily at Requiem Mass in St Columba’s Church in Tawny, Donegal, Anne Cadwallader paid tribute to the great staff of Fruithill Nursing Home where Gerry died. His tricolour-draped coffin was taken to the nearby cemetery with his children and brothers Seamus and Sean in attendance at the burial along with a restricted number of mourners due to Covid-19.

Anne said: “Anyone who ever met him, remembers him with a smile and fondness. He was a man it was impossible to dislike and incredibly easy to love. I was so lucky to find him and live with him for 35 years. I simply adored him. He was both the centre and perimeter of my life.”