Obituary notes for Joe Monks

Spanish Link

Irish Post, 16th January 1988

The funeral took place on Tuesday, at Putney Vale Crematorium in London, of Joe Monks, one of the last of the Irish veterans of the International Brigades who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War. He was 73 and died suddenly at his home.

A native of Inchicore, Dublin, Joe Monks was an active Socialist in Dublin for several years before travelling to Spain in December 1936 with a group led by Frank Ryan and Frank Edwards. He took part in several battles and was wounded in action. Later he wrote a book entitled With the Reds in Andalusia.

Joe contacted this newspaper in its early years to elaborate on some point we had made on Irish participation in the Spanish Civil War. Thereafter, he remained our prime contact and source of information on the subject. Little was published on the Irish in Spain without first checking with Joe Monks.

Whenever an Irish veteran of the Brigades died, whether in Britain or in Ireland Joe would unfailingly telephone to alert us of the passing and provide details.

He is survived by his wife, Shiela, and their children, Joe, Grainne and Anna Mary.

Joe Monks RIP

Irish Democrat Feb. 1988

About 80 mourners including fellow members of the International Brigade assembled at Putney Vale crematorium for the funeral of Joe Monks, who died suddenly on January 6th at the age of 73.

Tributes were offered by his son, Joe Monks, junior, by Michael O'Riordan from Dublin and by Bill Alexander of the International Brigade. The ceremony was enriched by the notable violin playing of cousin Philip Robinson, who played Boulavogue and the Coolin.

Speakers emphasised Joe's deep political and social commitment, to Irish republicanism and to socialism, which led him to fight in Spain. He was a man of broad cultural interests and will be sadly missed. He is survived by his wide Sheila, son Joe and two daughters, Grania and Anna Mary.

The Connolly Association was represented by Jane Tate and Flann Campbell.

Irish Democrat March 1988


I was shocked and saddened to read in the Democrat (February 1988) of the death of Joe Monks. I first met Joe in the build up for the Republican Congress in the early thirties. Joe, along with Alec Digges, Charlie Donnelly, Cora Hughes, Miriam James, myself and others, were busy organising in the Dublin area. It was a very exciting time. Nora Connolly-O'Brien, in her book, "We Shall Rise Again" wrote of the period: 'Then the Republican Congress came along, when there was a vacuum for a new political movement in Ireland. It was socialist as well. The Republican Congress was very strong. It was a grand time.'

I was with Joe when the Workers' College in Eccles Street, was attacked by the Fascist/'religious' mobs in March 1934. Joe, with four others, all armed, were stationed on the roof to forestall any attack by Blueshirts at roof top level.

On 16 December 1936, the first contingent of Irish volunteers, in which Joe was included, crossed from northern France into Catalonia to join the International Brigade. Joe was on active service for two years, until December 1938, mainly in the Cordoba sector.

On his return to Dublin, Joe (now known as 'Spanish' Joe to distinguish him from another Joe Monks) resumed his place in the leadership of the Republican Congress fighting gallantly against the growing Fascist menace.

Years later in London we sometimes met on Socialist 'duties' or at social events, when we talked of old times. Joe was a man of letters. He wrote a booklet on the Spanish war, 'With the Reds in Andalusia'. He had a whimsical sense of humour, and some months ago he asked me to co-operate on some research he was doing for the publication on such diverse characters as Major Sirr, the bane of the United Irishmen, who spoke Gaelic, and had a great concern for 'the language', and James Fitzharris (Skin-the-goat) the jarvey of the Invincibles; and Parnell, whose tenants were the first to obey the 'No Rent' call.

Joe was a man of enlightenment, of courage, and of great humanity. The cause of International Socialism has lost a gallant fighter.

Patrick Byrne