Kilkenny People, July 1st 2008, added July 21st.

George Brown Memorial Weekend a huge success

ST Mary’s Church in Inistioge was the venue on Friday evening for the launch of the George Brown Memorial Weekend.

George Brown, a Manchester working-class activist, whose parents came from Inistioge and Tullogher, was killed in action in defence of the Spanish Republic at the Battle of Brunete on the 7th of July 1937.

The Chairman on the night, Joe Doyle, in his opening remarks, drew the attention of those in attendance to a wall plaque in St. Mary’s which commemorated the life of Walter Hamilton on whom the Victoria Cross was conferred posthumously following his death in action in Kabul in 1879.

On this occasion he stated that they had assembled to honour another local hero, George Brown, to acknowledge his ceaseless work on behalf of the working class in an economically depressed England between the wars, to acclaim his principled stance in a Europe where democracy was threatened by the advance of fascism, and, above all, to remind the audience that Brown; had paid the ultimate price for his beliefs.

On this historic occasion the assembly was joined by two very distinguished guests, Jack Jones and Bob Doyle, both Spanish Civil War Veterans.

Jack, born in Liverpool in 1913, was a docker before enlisting with the International Brigades and had been a close friend of George Brown and his wife Evelyn Taylor. He was wounded at the Battle of the Ebro in 1938 and had to return to England. Sometime afterwards he and Evelyn were married. For many years he was a full-time official of the TGWU in the British midlands. In 1968 he was elected General Secretary of the union – a position he held for nine years. At the height of his power he was regarded as the most powerful person in Britain. He also held a number of prominent positions in the Trade Union Congress. He now holds the position of Life-President of the International Brigades Memorial Trust.

Bob Doyle, a Dubliner, born in 1916, was influenced by the republican and socialist activist, Kit Conway and in 1937 he left for Spain to carry the fight against Fascism. There, along with Frank Ryan, he was captured and placed in a concentration camp, from which he was eventually released in 1939 as part of a prisoner exchange. During World War II he joined the British Merchant Navy. He later settled in London where he worked as a printer. He is the last surviving member of the Connolly Column.

Bob Doyle opened proceedings with the launch of a commemorative booklet on George Brown. In the course of his address he spoke of his early life in Dublin, his connections with Kit Conway and Frank Ryan, and what motivated him to volunteer for service in Spain. In the modern he spoke of the importance of education which stressed the need to value the rights of others whether as individuals or sovereign states, and the primacy of the democratic decision of the people.

The lecture on the night was by Manus O’Riordan on George Brown and the Spanish Civil War.

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