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Bridget O'Toole. Friend And Comrade.
international | miscellaneous | other press Friday November 18, 2011 04:54 by john throne and Richard Mellor Jimmy Kelly. - Facts for working people loughfinn at aol dot com
Bridget O'Toole. Friend and Comrade.
Bridget O'Toole. Friend and Comrade.
Dear Readers of this blog which is organized by RM and myself.
We would like to share with you the very sad news of the death of our dear friend and Comrade Bridget O'Toole in Ireland. Some of you will know her and some will not. Bridget was originally from Cornwall in England. She moved to Coleraine, in Northern Ireland in the late 1960's. She taught creative writing in the university there. She could have chosen to go to a university in a much safer place but she chose the North because that was Bridget. She believed in fighting for a better world. Bridget was a founding member of the Militant in Ireland. Now the SP. However she parted company with that organization decades ago.
Her activity dated from intervening in the spread of Marxist ideas in the North in the very early days of the state approved attacks on the civil rights movement in Derry in the late 1960's, and the struggle to hold the line for class politics and working class unity when the world around her degenerated into the military repression of the British Army and the Northern State and the military campaign of the Republican organizations and the reactionary terror of all the sectarian organizations. Although she had long left the Militant she never left her belief in socialism or her fighting spirit.
Comrade Bridget was a very strong person. She was also very humble and diplomatic. But she always had her say and put forward her ideas. I remember at a Patrick MacGill summer school in Donegal where I was speaking on my book The Donegal Woman. Some uninformed person had seated Bridget across the table from former finance minister and Taoiseach Cowen. The man who was cutting spending on things such as health care and cancer treatment. I will never forget it. And I was never more proud of Bridget. She started into him and in her own inimitable and very quiet and diplomatic but determined way she savaged him. He did not know what hit him. Thank you Bridget.
Bridget was an excellent thinker and writer. She helped me come to a better understanding of the nuances and flexibility of Marxism, the dialectic. The interconnectedness of the world. The beauty of nature. She lived in her last years in a wee cottage in the Inishowen Peninsula. It was a windy place near the sea. One night we were walking with our friends Dolores and Liam and the gale blew my hat off and I never saw it again. We always joked about the wee fox that visited Bridget's garden regularly having come upon it and was either wearing it or using it for a wee mattress in its den. These were good times with Bridget.
Cancer was a big part of Bridget's life in recent years. Firstly, she nursed her husband through the illness which took him. She then developed the disease herself but used her strength of understanding to campaign and fight for the mostly women of Donegal who were denied treatment locally, often having to bus hundreds of miles for the debilitating treatment needed,while in great pain and discomfort. Her efforts played a huge role in the success of the establishment of an Oncology Unit in the Letterkenny Hospital in Donegal. Tragically, she has now succumbed to cancer herself.
Bridget was an extremely knowledgeable lover of music and poetry and it was a real pleasure to listen to her share this treasure. Bridget helped set up the Drumkeen Press which published Bridget's book "At Miss Mulligans" and my book "The Donegal Woman." We will now soon be publishing another book by Anton MacCaba on the swindling dealings of a property owner in Donegal. Bridget was central to the development of the Drumkeen Press and these books. I would like in particular to thank her for her help with my book.
Those of us who knew Bridget have lost a real friend, a Comrade, a beautiful, pleasant and brave woman, a woman who should be recognized as playing a central role in developing modern Marxism in Ireland. I live in Chicago now. Everytime my companion Bonnie and I would visit Ireland we would go see Wee Bridget as we called her. It was such a pleasure going for tea to her book filled cottage. We would always take humus as Bridget was trying not to eat dairy products in her fight to live. We would eat her wheaten bread and home made jam and drink tea and alternate between laughing and thinking of how life can at times be so brutal and at other times so beautiful. It is terrible to think we will never do this again.
Dear Bridget thank you for your contribution to our world and to the accumulated knowledge and spirit of the human species. We send our thoughts and solidarity to Bridget's children, Molly and Brendan, We reach out our hand to you. John T. Richard M. J.K.
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