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Veteran Camloch republican mourned

April 3, 2017

The death occurred on Friday last of highly respected and lifelong republican, Joe McElhaw, from Camloch.

Just weeks short of his 87th birthday, Joe led an active and fulfilling life, attending daily Mass and enjoying a great passion for swimming, walking and exercising.  Up until a short time ago, he could be found out in the fresh waters of Camloch Lake taking his daily dip, whatever the weather.

As a young man, Joe emigrated to America in 1956 where he served with distinction in the US Marine Corps.  He later returned to Ireland and took up the mantle of the family-owned public house in Camloch village.

From a strongly proud Republican background, he was interned and, like many others from the area, suffered daily harassment at the hands of the British Army and the RUC. Joe was always willing to lend support when needed and had a great love and respect for those who were imprisoned as a result of the conflict, and with whom he was a frequent and welcome visitor.  A poignant but fitting memory was his role as Chief Marshal at the funeral of Hunger Striker Raymond McCreesh.

Delivering the graveside oration at Joe’s funeral on Sunday, south Armagh republican Sean Hughes paid tribute to his leadership and example over the past decades in the struggle for Irish freedom.  He recalled how McElhaw’s public house was a nightly scene of social gathering where politics, ideologies and analysis about, not only the Irish situation, but those of the world were openly discussed and debated.   All were welcome in Joe’s, irrespective of their views.

A friend to many, Joe McElhaw was an amiable and popular man and was considered a gentleman of integrity in all his affairs.  Indeed this was reflective in the huge attendance at his funeral Mass in St Malachy’s Church, following which he was laid to rest in the adjoining cemetery.

Joe is survived by his wife, Judy and wide family circle to whom deepest sympathy is extended.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.

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