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Our hearts are aching. Francie, so suddenly taken from his family, friends and many admirers.
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We were always proud to be just simply a long time friend of "The Brollys".
Spanning over 40 years Anne and Francie were always within our minds and hearts. We shared many experiences together, not all in their beloved Dungiven or County Derry but back from about 1979 and throughout the 1980s, on their concert tours here in the United States.
Their music brought our shared Irish culture, History and love for freedom to the many venues they performed at, throughout New York City, Philadelphia, Chicago and many other towns and cities.
They were genuine caring people first. I can still hear Francie saying "There isn't a dog that exists, that is not worth whistling at".
He and Anne seemed to make time for everyone. No matter their condition or circumstance. They always exuded a sense of love and caring.
They made many friends here during the troubles and they did so with passion and conviction knowing that people back home needed to get their message out, that there was a civil rights movement in Northern Ireland.
As throughout American history, their Irish "cousins" here in the U.S. responded and continued to help spread the word. Injustice in Northern Ireland would not be tolerated. Many people here in the " States " became educated as to what was really happening in Ireland at the time. Local Irish -American politicians were getting involved and agitating for change and relief for those fighting a corrupt apartheid state in their beloved ancestral home.
I remember joining hundreds of protesters at the British Consulate on 3rd Avenue in Manhattan as the protestors supported the Blanket men and Hunger strikers as these brave men and in their own way women, opposed British policies in the North.
Francie's "H Block Song" became the main ballad sang on every day the demonstrators gathered. Just amazing! As I use to hear the crowds sing this song, and I would wonder if they knew Francie, it's author, at all. What a remarkable artist and peace loving individual.
Within the next decade the Brollys returned for a tour every year. Back in Dungiven they were teachers, and always involved in their community. Eventually, retiring they both eagerly served their county and townlands in politics and at Stormont. Then they resigned.
Today, I presume that as usual, Anne continues to assist in providing communion at their beloved St Patrick's Church each Sunday. They and their family are active community members and continue their message of peace. Not surprising, that both Anne and Francie would embrace the current right to life movement and its political party- Aontu.
Injustice and wickedness is ascendant. And, all good people need to get together. We don't get personal invitations... However, Let me pause, I'm feeling like, What else can I say? these notes are about my dear friend Francie, and for their family and friends, who might read. But, alas I was never short for words and it's a little overwhelming. There would be so much more to say.
I and my wife Lori would love to have been with him before he passed. But God only knows.
May Francie receive his due blessings and may Anne and all their wonderful children and grandchildren be consoled and certain, that as they grow older, they will find many memories and rich stories and of course their parents music and faith that will help guide them.
God bless, Slainte agus failte.
Don and Lori Quigley
Thursday 06 February 2020