Colum was 86 years old and a life-long republican. He was born in 1929 in Desertmartin, Co Derry and lived and worked on the family’s dairy farm. His mother was a member of Cumann na mBán and his father, chair of the local GAA club so he came from good stock.
In 1954 Colum married his beloved Eithne, who was the love of his life but sadly Eithne passed away at Christmas 2007 but there wasn’t a day went by when he didn’t talk about her. His face would always light up when he did so.
Colum and Eithne had 5 children; Paidin, Catherine, Brighin, Colum and Eithne and they suffered heartbreak when their son Paidin passed away in March 2000 and this passing seems to have served to bring the rest of the family closer together. Their closeness and love for each other was always obvious and evident.
Colum became a member of the Civil Rights Movement at the very early stages and when the military campaign began he recognised the necessity of the armed struggle to achieve our goals at that time. Colum’s house was a well-known safe house for Republicans and it was Colum’s commitment and dedication to the cause that made him a target for the British State Forces and Unionists. He was harassed, intimidated and threatened and thankfully survived a number of attempts on his life.
In 1979, under severe pressure and with a growing family, Colum and Eithne had little choice but to move to Dundalk where he owned and ran the Dundalk Bar until his retirement in 1990. Colum, being a committed Republican, joined the local Worthington/Watters Cumann and later the Watters Brothers Cumann of which he was an active member until he died this morning. Colum was one of the founder members of the anti-extradition and H-Block committees and would talk fondly of those days. He was proud and honoured to be a part of that.
Colum was also an experienced canvasser and enjoyed going around the doors to promote candidates. He always enjoyed the craic of meeting people, like-minded or not. He canvassed strongly for our current TD Gerry Adams and in May of this year, the Cumann had to ask him not to canvas as he was 86 years of age and his health wasn’t what it was, not to mention that he was showing the rest of us up with his enthusiasm! That didn’t stop him putting a poster of Jennifer Green and Matt Carthy in his window and stopping neighbours as they went by to explain who they were and why they should vote for them.
When Gerry Adams TD was released from Antrim Barracks in May this year, Colum and some of the rest of Watters Brothers Cumann piled into two cars and headed to Dublin for the big welcome home. Colum was in fine form and spent the journey giving out about the political policing and “how dare they arrest our TD” so by the time we got to Dublin, we were all revved up and could have happily gone to the GPO and staged another Rising. Colum was always great craic.
Colum and the Cumann on their way to Dublin
When you first met Colum the thing that struck you was that he was a true gentleman. He was dedicated to the Cause, his Eithne and his family. It was a pleasure to have Colum in our Cumann and he will be greatly missed and it will be a poorer Cumann for him not being there. He was always the first to arrive and attended every event no matter what it was or where. He never missed an Ard Fheis. If we asked for volunteers his hand would always be the first up. We are very proud to call him a friend and a comrade.
To Colum’s family Catherine, Brighin, Colum and Eithne and to all the extended family which now includes grandchildren and great grandchildren we send our sincere condolences. He is back with his beloved Eithne now and Paidin and we are sure he is at peace.
Colum’s house is open from tonight at 7pm
Funerals will be in the Holy Family (Muirhevna Mór) on Friday morning at 10am
Colum will be buried in Desertmartin, Co Derry.