In 1981, Irish republican volunteers in a British jail on Irish soil undertook a fast to the death to retain their status as political prisoners. The British government, led by Margaret Thatcher, demanded they be classified as criminals.

Ten men died on the doorstep of the British government in one of the most turbulent periods in the tragic history of Anglo-Irish relations.

In Support Of Kurdish HDP and PKK POWs and Activists,
Engaged on Hunger Strike Against Detention, November 2018-onging

PKK POW Zülküf Gezen
Martyred while on strike in support of Abdullah Ocalan, 17 March 2019

[Click for news on this historic strike] or [follow hungerstrikes_ on Twitter].

In tribute to the ten men
who gave their lives on hungerstrike:

Vol. Bobby Sands, IRA
Vol. Francis Hughes, IRA
Vol. Patsy O'Hara, INLA
Vol. Raymond McCreesh, IRA
Vol. Joe McDonnell, IRA
Vol. Martin Hurson, IRA
Vol. Kevin Lynch, INLA
Vol. Kieran Doherty, IRA
Vol. Thomas McElwee, IRA
Vol. Michael Devine, INLA

5 May 81
66 days
12 May 81
59 days
21 May 81
61 days
21 May 81
61 days
8 July 81
61 days
13 July 81
46 days
1 Aug 81
71 days
2 Aug 81
73 days
8 Aug 81
62 days
20 Aug 81
60 days

[ Historical Info | HS-Era Docs | HS-Related Texts | Other HS Pages | News | Books | 1996 Martyrs | Related Sites | Contact Us ]

Historical information:
The 10 Who Died
The 1980 Hunger Strike | The Participants
The 1981 Hunger Strike | The Survivors
The 5 Demands
The Diary of Bobby Sands
Statement at Start of Strike
Statement on 4 July 1981
Statement at End of Strike
The Forgotten Hunger Strikes
Scenes from the Funerals

Hunger Strike Era Documents:
Relatives Action Committee/H-Block/Armagh Committee History
The IRSP Announcement of the Start of the 1981 Hunger Strike (March 1981)
More Join Hunger Strike (Starry Plough, June 1981)
Why it is murder.... (Starry Plough, June 1981)
Solidarity Statement to the Hunger Strikers By Palestinian Prisoners in Nafha Prison

Hunger Strike Related Texts:
The Women Hunger Strikers of Armagh Prison (from Ireland's Own)
The 1981 Irish Hunger Strike: Struggle For Legitimacy or Pathology Of Terrorism?
Irish Political Prisoners and Post Hunger-Strike Resistance to Criminalisation

Other Hunger Strike Pages:
Derry IRSP's Hunger Strike Page
July 1981
The Chicago Hunger Strike Commemoration Committee
Bobby Sands Trust
The Irish Hunger Strikers (from Ireland's Own)

Sadly, many of the other hungerstrike sites that sprang up to commemorate the 20th and 25th anniversaries have disappeared from the web. If you are a webmaster of a hunger strike site (Irish or other), or you know of any other sites that are not listed here, please send us the url and we'll take a look at them.


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Books on the Hungerstrikes:

Below are books specifically on the 1981 Hunger Strikes -- some of these may currently be out of print but check with Amazon, as 3rd-party vendors may sell used copies from time to time. This is NOT meant to be an all-inclusive list, so if you know of books that should be listed, contact us at

Ten Men Dead - The Story of the 1981 Irish Hunger strike
by David Beresford

Biting at the Grave: The Irish Hunger Strikes and the Politics of Despair
by Padraig O'Malley

Skylark Sing Your Lonely Song
by Bobby Sands

Bobby Sands and the Tragedy of Northern Ireland
by John M. Feehan

One Day in My Life
by Bobby Sands

Writings of Bobby Sands: A Collection of Prison Writings

The Irish Hunger Strike
by Tom Collins

Bobby Sands: Writings from Prison

Bobby Sands: Irish Rebel: A Self-Portrait in Poetry and Polemics Issued on the 10th Anniversary of His Death
edited by Robert West

Blanketmen and Afterlives, both by Richard O'Rawe

Around the world, people know the names of Bobby Sands, Patsy O'Hara, Mickey Devine, etc. Songs are written about the hunger strikers, and plays and movies are produced to keep their memory alive. But who knows the name Ayce Idil Erkmen, or the fact that she became the first woman internationally to die on hunger strike?

As others have said, Bobby Sands is alive, wherever a hunger strike for justice takes place. He lives on in people like Ayce and Aygun Ugur and Ilginc Ozkeskin. The struggle is truly international.

Prisoners from ten revolutionary organisations participated in the Death Fast of 1996 in Turkey, which lasted for 69 days, and 12 prisoners died: Aygun Ugur (TKP(ML)), Altan Berdan Kerimgiller (DHKP-C), Ilginc Ozkeskin (DHKP-C), Huseyin Demircioglu (MLKP), Ali Ayata (TKP(ML)), Mujdat Yanat (DHKP-C), Tahsin Yilmaz (TIKB), Ayce Idil Erkmen (DHKP-C), Hicabi Kucuk (TIKB), Yemliha Kaya (DHKP-C), Osman Akgun (TIKB) and Hayati Can (TKP(ML)).

We salute these 12 who died and the many who participated in the strike, both inside and outside Turkish prisons. The Kurdish struggle continues, and more than 30 have given their lives in furtherance of their goals.

You can read more about the Turkish hungerstrikes in 1996 and 2000 by checking out F-type Prisons, Hunger Strikes and Deaths

Other Related Sites:
Irish Republican Socialist Movement
Republican Sinn Fein
Sinn Fein
CAIN's Hunger Strike Page
CAIN's collection of Hunger Strike and Prisoners Campaign Posters

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This page was initially unveiled 1 March 1996, the 15th anniversary of the start of the 1981 hunger strike, at the now-defunct Check out the history of this page.

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