Frank Deegan - Liverpool-Irish volunteer

Irish Post, October 29, 1988

The Good Fight!

Fifty years ago this Friday, October 28, the famous Ramblas of Barcelona were the scene for the Last Parade of the International Brigade. Thousands of volunteers from all over the world marched through the town to an emotional farewell from Spanish republicans.

An estimated 48,000 volunteers had gone to Spain in the period 1936-38 to fight on the side of the democratically elected republican government against Franco's fascist revolt. Among those volunteers were many Irish - among them the legendary Frank Ryan; Paddy Roe McLaughlin from Donegal and the three fighting O'Flaherty brothers, who came via the united States; and Tomas Patton of Achill and William Barry of Dublin, who came via Melbourne. Others were to come via Liverpool - among them paddy O'Daire, Tommy O'Brien and Frank Deegan.

Frank, who is now 77, missed the Barcelona parade, because he was recovering from his wounds after being blown up by a hand grenade on the last day of fighting, somewhere on the Aragon front, under the command of Johnny Power of Waterford. He hopes this weekend to make amends for this absence of fifty years ago.

To mark the anniversary of that Barcelona march, the surviving 'Brigadistas' have been asked back to parade again before the unveiling of a memorial in their honour.

"Men like me who fought in the civil war are not going to be around much longer," he told us. "It is only right that there is a memorial to remind people of what we did."

This weekend's event, entitled the Last Parade, is being organised by International Brigades veterans from America. Among the sponsors are Gregory Peck, Pete Seeger and Harry Bellafonte.

Frank Deegan, who lives in the Anfield area of Liverpool, is still an activist for just causes - latterly being involved in the struggle fro a decent-living for pensioners, in which he finds himself shoulder-to-shoulder with that other Spanish Civil War veteran, and the veteran of many a union battle, Jim Larkin Jones, more commonly known as Jack Jones.

Over 12,000 volunteers died in Spain, out of that total of 48,000/Despite the heavy losses, Frank still feels that going to Spain was the right thing to do: "World War 2 might have been avoided of Franco had been defeated", he maintained.

The original parade was addressed by Dolores Ibarruri - La Pasionaria - who told the departing Brigadiers: "You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend. You are the heroic example of democracy's solidarity and universality."

An earlier, larger article on Frank

Extensive reports from The Irish Post