From Armed Struggle to Academia By Paddy McMenamin


Paddy McMenamin, former political prisoner in Long Kesh in the 1970’s, born in Belfast, domiciled in Galway and 30 years in Donegal in between! ‘Armed Struggle to Academia’ is a personal story of life growing up in conflict Belfast, armed struggle on the streets and years in Long Kesh as an internee and political prisoner in the infamous ‘Cages; Paddy acquired his original education in those Cages as he embraced reading everything from Marx, Connolly to Paulo Freire, learned to type on an old black typewriter while editing a Cage paper; and embraced the Irish language in a Gaeltacht Hut in Cage 18. In 2003 producing car parts in a German automotive factory was exchanged for academia as he enrolled in NUI Galway for a BA in History/English; PGDE, and an MA in History graduating as a Secondary school Teacher. The book is a personal story bringing pathos and powerful recollection from an immensely difficult time in our recent history.

‘Paddy’s brutally honest account of his time in the IRA and the suffocating violence that brutalised his community in West Belfast represents a pained and deeply personal reflection on the ‘conflict’ in Ireland. As Paddy reflects on a nightmare world of hatred, armed struggle and imprisonment, the reader is struck by the level of death and violence in one small community. His account of the corrosive effect of violence on families is shocking and, as the author noted, war has a corrupting effect on everyone involved. This book represents an authentic and unapologetic account of the terrible toll the conflict inflicted on communities and reminds us that it can dehumanise whole societies to the extent that they accept abnormal situations. As Paddy concludes, the ‘Long War’ has left a legacy of long memories and long regrets and this account adds to our understanding of what motivated young men and women to risk their lives embracing the Republican struggle in the midst of a brutal conflict’.

- Dr. Conor McNamara, BA, MA, PhD;
Historian-in-Residence, Galway Co. Council.

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