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 Заголовок сообщения: We do things differently up North just ask Henry Shefflin
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Slaughtneil Robert Emmets held Brett Pesce Jersey their gala dinner last Saturday night. There were over 800 people there. "It's like the Third Reich," said Gerry Donnelly.They are All-Ireland senior camogie champions, as well as Ulster senior hurling and football champions. But they are much more than that. Irish speakers, communitarians and socialists, they are loyal to their place and people, but at the same time would give you the shirt off their backs. Henry Shefflin was the guest of honour and he was visibly taken aback by the whole experience.
There were people there from clubs all over the county. After the meal, Gerry Donnelly did an interesting and funny Q&A with Henry. With a straight face, he said: "Henry, with next year's dinner dance at Ballyragget already sold out, is there any chance you could squeeze me two tickets?" He asked Henry about Cody's philosophy. Henry said: "He never once mentioned winning to us. He just said we were brothers and we would build an unbreakable spirit."
It is worth remembering that during the hunger strikes, Slaughtneil pulled their teams out of all competitions as a mark of solidarity with their neighbours. They didn't even have a hunger striker. Their seniors - the jewel in their crown - were relegated to intermediate for the next season as a result. In Dungiven, where we had two hunger strikers, we never forgot that.
When my sister Nodlaig went to Slaughtneil over a decade ago to ask for their support in revitalising Dungiven, they showed us what they had done and since that moment, have advised us at every step on the way. In Dungiven, we now have three Irish schools, from nursery to secondary, and the town is coming alive. Out with the Manchester United jerseys, in with the language, the music (we even have a harp school), the football and the hurling.
Ray McCartney, one of the best human beings I have known, was taken off the first hunger strike on Brett Pesce Jersey his 53rd day, when they thought they had a deal. By that stage, he was almost blind and very close to death. After 30 days the body starts to consume itself.
A few days before the gala, Ray emailed me a black and white photo of three small boys together, wearing shorts, arms around each other, smiling broadly. "Who are they?" was his challenge. The photo was hazy, but I recognised the one on the left immediately. "Kevin Lynch," I texted. "Who are the others?" I was beaten. I had to send it to my father. Not 30 seconds later, he came back "Eugene, Oisin and Pauline Hassan." I was kicking myself.
Looking at the photo brought me back to those terrible days in '81. I have never been able to bring myself to watch anything about the hunger strikes. I couldn't watch the movie Hunger with Michael Fassbender, and although I taped the recent Bobby Sands: 66 Days documentary, in the end I deleted it. I have often spoken to Ray about how he managed to come through it all. He says the strength of their bond made their spirit unbreakable. "All of us were in it together. That's how we coped."
Eugene Hassan, who is in the photo, was one of the strongest men who ever played for us. In the 1982 county final against Ballinderry, which was probably the greatest unlicensed prize fight ever seen on Irish soil, Eugene was our number six. The referee's report after the drawn game said: "This was one game not played in the spirit of the Gael. Had it not been for the fact it was a county final, I would have blown it up after 10 minutes, by which time there were fist fights going on in Brett Pesce Jersey every part of the field."

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