Martin Hurson

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Martin Hurson
Born (1956-09-13)13 September 1956
Cappagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
Died 13 July 1981(1981-07-13) (aged 24)
Cause of death Hunger strike
Organization Provisional IRA
Known for Hunger strike of 46 days, from 28 May 1981

Edward Martin Hurson (13 September 1956 – 13 July 1981) was an Irish republican hunger striker and a volunteer in the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA).


Hurson, from Cappagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, was one of nine children born to Johnnie and Mary Ann Hurson. Hurson was educated to a primary level at Crosscavanagh Primary School in Galbally and at secondary level in St. Patrick's, Galbally.[citation needed]

After leaving school, he worked as a welder for a while before going to England where he stayed for eighteen months with his brother Francis and worked in the building trade.[citation needed] Returning to County Tyrone at the end of 1974, both he and his brother spent time in Bundoran, County Donegal, a known IRA training and supply centre.[1]

Paramilitary activities

In November 1976, Hurson, together with Kevin O’Brien, Dermot Boyle, Peter Kane and Pat O’Neill were arrested. Hurson was tried and convicted of involvement in three IRA landmine incidents, one at Cappagh in September, one at Galbally, County Tyrone in November 1975 and a third at Reclain in February 1976, when several members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Ulster Defence Regiment narrowly escaped being killed. He received concurrent sentences of twenty, fifteen and five years for these convictions.[citation needed]

Hunger strike

Hurson became engaged to his long-term girlfriend, Bernadette Donnelly, while in prison. He was part of the blanket protest and joined the 1981 Irish Hunger Strike on 28 May, replacing Brendan McLaughlin who withdrew following a perforated stomach ulcer.[2]

He lost the ability to hold down water after around 40 days on hunger strike, and died of dehydration after only 46 days,[3] considerably shorter than any other hunger striker (the next shortest was Francis Hughes at 59 days). Near the end his family considered the possibility of intervening to save his life, but they were told that he would probably have permanent brain damage.

Other information

He was a candidate at the 1981 Irish general election in the Longford–Westmeath constituency where he obtained 4,573 (10.1%) first preference votes. He is commemorated on the Irish Martyrs Memorial at Waverley Cemetery in Sydney, Australia.[citation needed] The University College Cork Sinn Fein cumann is named after him.


  1. Tírghrá, National Commemoration Centre, 2002. PB, ISBN 0-9542946-0-2, p.240
  2. "AROUND THE NATION; Hunger Striker in Belfast Gives Up His Prison Fast". New York Times. 16 August 1981. Retrieved 2007-02-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "What happened in the hunger strike?". BBC News. 5 May 2006. Retrieved 2007-02-15.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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