**This article appeared 16 August 2001

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A magnificent memorial to Kieran Doherty TD was unveiled to mark the 20th anniversary of his death on hunger strike as large crowds gathered in Ballyconnell Co. Cavan for a weekend of events from 3 to 5 August.

Doherty died on 2 August 1981 after 73 days on hunger strike, having been elected the previous June as TD for Cavan/Monaghan. Twenty years later, a full weekend programme of events drew people to Ballyconnell from all over County Cavan and further afield. The organising committee described it as "a celebration of the hunger strikers' lives and legacy as well as a commemoration of their deaths".

The weekend's events began on Friday, 3 August, with the opening of an exhibition in the community centre which attracted widespread interest over three days. On Friday evening, a large crowd was in attendance when former hunger striker and friend of Kieran Doherty, John Pickering, gave a detailed and heartfelt account of life inside the H-Blocks at the time of the hunger strike and on the events which preceded it. That night there was music and song at several functions in the town.

There was entertainment in the Market Square on Saturday when the group Village Folk played in the open air. At 7pm a large crowd turned up at the Gaelic Park to watch St. Teresa's from Andersonstown - Kieran Doherty's old club - play Kildallan. A most entertaining and competitive match saw the visiting side lose out by only a few points. The Mountain Road Pipe Band played on the Main Street afterwards and later there was a barbeque and function in Lizzie's Bar.

A commemorative Mass was celebrated in Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Ballyconnell on Sunday morning at 11am. The chapel was packed to capacity. Among the congregation were Kieran Doherty's parents, Margaret and Alfie, and members of the extended family.

There was an air of excitement as a crowd of 1,800 people gathered in the town to take part in the parade at 3pm, which proceeded from Rakeelan on the Derrylin Road to the newly built monument. Four bands attended, one from as far away as Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, along with colour parties and pikemen. There were 1981 Committee contingents from Fermanagh, Armagh, Belfast, Monaghan and Cavan.

The unveiling ceremony was chaired by local republican Aidan Brady.and Alfie and Margaret Doherty unveiled the monument, which was blessed by Fr. Joe McVeigh. Wreaths were laid and a piper played a lament. Sinn Féin Cavan County Councillors Charlie Boylan and Pauline Tully addressed the crowed. Special thanks were accorded to Cavan County Council, which provided the site for the memorial and granted planning approval.

The main address was given by Cavan/Monaghan Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin. He said he regarded it as a special honour to be asked to join with them as they unveiled the memorial. He said the memory of Kieran Doherty is "alive and relevant in Counties Cavan and Monaghan. His memory is a continuing inspiration as we move forward in our struggle for freedom, justice and peace."

Ó Caoláin paid tribute to the republicans of Ballyconnell for organising a very successful weekend of events in tribute to Kieran Doherty: "We are privileged to be joined by Alfie and Margaret today and I am sure they share with me great pride and appreciation of the fitting manner in which Kieran has been honoured here in Ballyconnell and throughout Cavan and Monaghan. Tá a chuimhne agus cuimhne a chomrádaithe beo agus leis an chuimhne sin is cinnte to dtiocfaidh ár lá."

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