VETERAN OF SPANISH CIVIL WAR
TO ATTEND EVENT IN SPAIN
"There's a valley in Spain called Jarama.
It's a place that we all know so well -
For it's there that we gave of our manhood,
And most of our brave comrades fell."
Mr Peter O'Connor of Waterford city, the only living Irishman to have fought at the Battle of Jarama in 1937, is to attend the unveiling of a memorial at the village cemetery of Marata de Tajuna, where the anti-fascist fighters killed in that battle are buried.
The mass grave has remained virtually unmarked for 57 years. It contains the remains of soldiers of the legally- elected Spanish Republic together with those of the volunteers from many countries who had joined the International Brigade. Nineteen of those buried at Marata de Tajuna were Irishmen. Peter and his wife Biddy will fly out from Dublin on Thursday 6th October with other veterans of the Connolly Column, and their families, to reunite with veterans from Spain and elsewhere.
While in Spain Peter will present a commemorative vase of Waterford crystal to a Spanish veterans' organisation. Born in 1912, Peter came from a republican family, joining the Fianna in 1922 and the IRA in 1929. He left the IRA in 1934. He was a member of the Republican Congress and was present at the inaugural meeting in 1933 of the Communist Party of Ireland, in which he remains today at age 82.
The International Brigade comprised 45,000 volunteers from 54 countries, of whom about 2,000 are alive today. 145 were from Ireland, of whom 61 were killed including Maurice Quinlan of Waterford. Those who returned faced condemnation from the Catholic Church, which supported the fascist rebellion led by General Franco, aided by Hitler and Mussolini. After the fascists took power they murdered 196,000 Spaniards between 1939 and 1952.
The attached speech, which Peter intends to make at the unveiling, is EMBARGOED until Saturday 8th October 1994.
1st Oct. 1994