The Irish Times: Memorial honours Waterford men who fought fascism in Spain

Barry Roche, Irish Times, July 13, 2004

The sun may not have scorched and the thunder of gunfire may have been replaced with the hum of passing traffic, but the heroism of 11 Waterford men on the dusty battlefields of Spain echoed down the decades in their native city at the weekend when a memorial was unveiled in honour of their part in the fight against fascism.

Waterford men Frank Edwards, Jackie Hunt, John Kelly, Harry Kennedy, Jackie Lemon, Peter O'Connor, John O'Shea, brothers, Johnny, Paddy and Willie Power and Mossie Quinlan - who was killed in action on the Jarama Front - were among the 145 or so Irishmen who fought with 15th International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War.

And on Friday evening, three of their surviving comrades, Corkman Mr Michael O'Riordan (86), Mr Jack Jones (91) from Liverpool and Mr Moe Fishman (88) from New York - all slower of gait but with their fervour undimmed by the years - joined with some 400 others to pay tribute to the now all deceased Waterford volunteers.

The memorial, carved from an eight-tonne block of Spanish granite by Wexford sculptor, Michael Warren, is the brainchild of the Relatives and Friends of the Waterford International Brigaders Committee under the chairmanship of playwright, Jim Nolan. Speaking from a podium draped in the red, yellow and purple flag of the Spanish Republic, newly elected

Mayor of Waterford, Cllr Seamus Ryan - a grandnephew of Peter O'Connor - recalled how, although in a minority in the Waterford of the 1930s, the 11 volunteers never wavered in the belief that their cause was just.

Mr Fishman - secretary of the Veterans of the Lincoln Brigade who fought alongside some of the Waterford men at Brunete - said the Waterford men, like the other 40,000 volunteers who went to Spain, went for an ideal and were willing to make any sacrifice. "All of these men are my brothers and my comrades and I love them all."

Waterford City Council has become the first Irish local authority to honour the international brigaders. Irish veteran Mr Michael O'Riordan recalled the political background of the time in Waterford, including how Frank Edwards was sacked from his job as a teacher in Mount Sion on the orders of Bishop Kinnane when he refused to renounce his involvement in the Republican Congress and was similarly victimised on his return from Spain.

Former RTE correspondent, Mr Liam Cahill - a cousin of Mossie Quinlan - spoke on behalf of the families and thanked the committee.

"At one time, these men and their families endured much from various authorities . . . However, this enduring monument now proclaims the public pride of all the citizens of Waterford in what they went out to do," he said.

Piper Tom Casey played The Minstrel Boy and Jimmy Kelly led the crowd in singing the Internationale. Dolores Wild read La Pasionaria's farewell to the international brigades on October 28th, 1938 when she told the departing volunteers that "You can go proudly. You are history. You are legend." Mr O'Riordan and Mr Jones unveiled the memorial which was draped in the flag of the 15th International Brigade and red roses were laid in honour of the men and their comrades who died defending the Spanish Republic.

Another report on this memorial unveiling