Former Centerprise worker Maggie Hewitt writes about our Centerprise mailboxes entry:
I would like to add that Box 13 was for An Phoblacht, the newspaper for [Sinn Féin -ed] the political wing of the IRA.
In December 1980 or 81, a time when there were quite few IRA bomb scares, there was an incident when just before Xmas we received a package that was clearly not newspapers but much heavier and box like.
We carried it out of the building and put in in the outhouse at the back of the courtyard outside our building.
The next morning was the Saturday before Xmas, our busiest day for the bookshop, so before opening we contacted the police who arrived within minutes who then contacted the bomb squad who then evacuated the building so we were standing outside the Rio while they cordoned off the street.
It turned out the possible bomb was a box of tapes by Christy Moore, a very political Irish singer who often performed at the Hackney Empire. I think he would have appreciated the story.
Maggie has also contributed some recollections to the excellent A Hackney Autobiography project which is documenting Centerprise.
There’s a lot more to be said about the radical history of the Irish in Hackney. More posts on that eventually I hope – any pointers welcome.