George Brown Commemoration
27-28th June 2008, Inistioge, Kilkenny
There were 2 lectures - one by Manus O'Riordan on Friday evening and the other by Harry Owens on Saturday morning.
The sessions also saw frequent contributions by 2 veterans of the SCW - Jack Jones, President of the International Brigades Memorial Trust and long time trade union leader. He was joined by Bob Doyle, who is originally from Dublin and who is the last Irish Brigadier.
There was a particular reason for Jack to attend this event, along with his family, in that his late wife had initially married George Brown, so as he said George has always been held in particular affection by the Jones family. Bob Doyle spoke at the opening session spreading the message, that people must get active in the fight against capitalism.
After Harry's well received speech, the crowd of well over 100 local people moved into the neighbouring cemetery for the unveiling of the plaque.
The local people were joined by members of the International Brigade Memorial Trust including the families of several Brigadiers, inc. Irishman Gerry Doran who was represented by his daughter Ann and her children; Sean Edwards, son of Waterford vol. Frank Edwards was also in attendance, as was (obviously) Manus O'Riordan and family - son of the late Mick O'Riordan. Syd Booth, a Manchester volunteer, was represented by his daughter.
After the unveiling of the plaque by Jack Jones in the Church of Ireland graveyard, the majority of the crowd moved onto the County Council owned estate of Woodstock, where in the lovely gardens the local Commitee had already erected a plaque to the 4 volunteers in December 2007, and where at the weekend a commemorative tree was planted by Jack Jones (under the direction of Jerry Malone!) to mark the occasion. This site, must be, by far, the most decorative of any commemorations todate in Ireland!
Manus O'Riordan's lecture can be read here.
Kilkenny and the Spanish Civil War
As a contribution to the work of the local committee I wrote a piece on the four Kilkenny men who took part with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War.
"Seán Dowling, from Castlecomer, left Dublin on the Liverpool boat in February 1937. He wasn't travelling to Britain for a job. He was going to war. He would be numbered among 320 Irish volunteers who fought in defence of the Spanish Republic during the 1936-39 Civil War. In this venture he was joined by three other Kilkenny men: - Michael Brennan, also from the Castlecomer area, and brothers, George and Michael Brown, Inistioge born – Manchester reared." Read the rest here...
Munster Express notice 19th June This was a small piece advertising the weekend events. Read it here.
New Ross Standard notice 11th June This article is available here.
RTE Evening News covered the commemoration on the evening news on 28th June. View it here.
The Inistioge George Brown Memorial Committee (GBMC) has produced a very glossy, 20 page, booklet called George Brown 1906-1937: Working Class activist and member of the XV International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.
I can recommend this publication in the strongest possible terms (and not just because I contributed an article!!!) Martin Gahan must be singled out. He undertook a lot of the extensive work, travelling to Salford to dig through the archives there, etc. along with 2 other Committee members, Terry Bannon and Sean Walsh. Terry also did the layout of the pamphlet. This is a marvellous piece of local and labour history. This pamphlet has a lot of previously unseen material about this important volunteer. Brown was the highest ranking political activist from Britain to be killed in Spain, having been a member of the Communist Party Central Committee.
There was a limited print run of 800 copies, and this will sell out quickly. Orders should be sent to the Secretary, Inistioge George Brown Memorial Committee, The Square, Inistioge, Kilkenny, Ireland as soon as possible if you want to get read about this piece of history.
A copy costs Euro10, but allow for Euro3 for postage costs as well, say Euro13.
In preparation for this commemoration I retyped an old pamphlet on George, written originally by Mick Jenkins. It can be read here.
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