Frequently used as a backdrop for interviews with Sinn Fein members, the Falls Road mural of Bobby Sands is one of the most notorious murals in West Belfast. Defaced and attacked numerous times since its unveiling, the mural is bordered by a chain being broken by a lark, an homage to Sands’ famous poem about a caged lark. Written on the thirteenth day of his hunger strike while in prison:
I was lonely for a while this evening, listening to the crows caw
as they returned home. Should I hear the beautiful lark, she
would rent my heart. Now, as I write, the odd curlew mournfully
calls as they fly over. I like the birds.
Well, I must leave off, for if I write more about the birds my
tears will fall and my thoughts return to the days of my youth.
They were the days, and gone forever now. But I enjoyed them.
They are in my heart — good night, now.
The lark is accompanied by an inscription at the very top of the mural, “Saoirse”, the Gaelic word for freedom. Bobby Sands is the focal point of the mural, as the shape of the side of the building conforms to his portrait being central. The immediate background of his portrait consists of various hues of blue, reminiscent of clouds or heaven. This memorialization of Bobby Sands is most fascinating because the pentagonal shapes of his portrait, the middle border, as well as the physical shape of the building serve as concentric circles for the legacy of the inscription, “Everyone, republican or otherwise has their own particular role to play.” As the viewer moves from the peaceful, smiling portrait to the multitude of colors backing the shattering chain into the side of the Sinn Fein office building, the viewer can’t help but be reminded of the lasting legacy of Bobby Sands.