First Letter from Spanish Civil War -
Gerry Doran - 21st April 1937

Gerry Doran (26th August 1911 - 2nd Feb. 1976)

This volunteer was born in Belfast before moving to Ballyclare and then onto Dublin. He worked as an electrician, a shop steward for the ETU.

He left from London in December 1936 with the delegation led by Ryan, and was quickly into battle on the 27th, getting wounded in the head and arm at Lopera later that month. In a letter of February 11th 1937 Peter Kerrigan, writing to Harry Pollitt of the CP in London, said that Doran had "got a pretty bad one in the head as well as one in the arm, He is definitely on the danger list" in the hospital at Murcia.

Geraldine Abrahams, his daughter wrote a piece in the Irish Times, 4 12 2001, about a trip to Spain to commemorate the war. She detailed that his fahter came under aerial fire and that on Xmas Eve he had been wounded on the arm and then 'a piece of shrapnel became embedded in his helmet, forcing it down into his skull.' There were a number of wounded men and the two stretcher-bearers could only take one, John Meehan of Galway said 'take Gerry, he's worse hit than me.' Doran survived after being operated on by a French surgeon. Meehan didn't. In June 1937 he was among 18 men listed for repatriation and he was repatriated during July.

He was repatriated and returned to London by late June '37, before going onto speak at a reception in July in Carrickmines, Dublin, organised by the Friends of the Spanish Republic Committee to celebrate the return of several volunteers. He assured the meeting that they would defeat Fascism in Spain and in Ireland.

Ciaran Crossey, Nov. 30th 2008

c/o Socorro Rojo
Plaza Altazono

[This was a 4 page handwritten letter.]

My Dear Mother,

I just received your 1st letter 2 days ago, which you posted on Feb. 23rd, so you see how sometimes mail is delayed.

I am now feeling in the best of health, and hope this applies to you and the rest of the family. My face and neck is all sun-tanned, due to the wonderful climate out here, and after I have my hand and arm massaged together with electrical treatment, I believe I will be more fit physically than [I] was before.

Well, mother, I don’t know what way you judge my action in coming out to Spain, but even now I am more convinced than ever that I have done the only thing worth doing – helping to kill fascism before it spread to my own country – IRELAND!

Some of the best of Irish lads have fought and died, in their efforts to save democracy – Tony Fox, only 17½ years old – Kit Conway, the finest type of soldiers I have yet met – Dinny Coady, Mick Nolan, Mick May. All of them late of the IRA; they had no regrets as their deaths each resemble a nail in the coffin of International Fascism and of O’Duffy and his hirelings.

I don’t yet know anything definite yet regarding myself. I will probably be examined by the Medical Commission in a few days time, and I will write and let you know their decision. I would like to see you all again as soon as possible, and yet I would like to remain here for the victorious ending – which I believe is nearer than most people imagine.

There is no imperialist differences shown here – I get the same consideration as President Azana – the same food as General Miaja. I want for nothing so you needn’t send anything out.

When things are settled up we can have a good time to make up for the present separation.

I am still writing to Glasgow, but don’t know how exactly my action has been looked on.

Cheerio, Mother, for the present, and give my love to all, especially my new niece Kathleen (if she’s anything like her ‘Ma’ I pity her, ha, ha.)

Remaining, Mother,


Your Loving Son


PS, Did Nan get my ‘latest’ photograph?


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