Articles on Ireland and the SCW

Reprinted from the Irish Democrat
September to October 1937
Articles from July – August 1937 are available here.

Articles from November – December 1937 are available here.

Irish Democrat 4th September 1937 - He would have liked to have met O'Duffy in Spain

Irish Democrat 4th September 1937 - Richard O'Neill - An Appreciation

Irish Democrat 4th September 1937 - Doleful Ditties of Donny Carney

Irish Democrat 11th September 1937 - Liam Tumilson - In 1932 he said this

Irish Democrat 11th September 1937 - Welcomed Home from Spain

Irish Democrat 18th September 1937 - The Men who fought - Need your Help

Irish Democrat 18th September 1937 - Call to you from Men who fought for Democracy!

Irish Democrat 25th September 1937 - Irishmen take part in Aragon Victories

Irish Democrat 2nd October 1937 - The Irish Unit's First Battle

Irish Democrat 2nd October 1937 - A letter from Spain

Irish Democrat 9th October 1937 - The death of Peter Daly

Irish Democrat 9th October 1937 - William McCullough election meeting

Irish Democrat 9th October 1937 - Kilkenny Workers' Council Condemns Attendance at O'Duffy Reception

Irish Democrat 9th October 1937 - Ireland’s Honour is redeemed - That day at Guadarrama when fascism received a Smashing Defeat

Irish Democrat 16th October 1937 - Derry demonstrates its sympathy with Spain

Irish Democrat 16th October 1937 - ‘St Teresa would back Madrid’ - book review

Irish Democrat 16th October 1937 - Successful Belfast Meetings Held

Irish Democrat 16th October 1937
Six Volunteers to spy on Moors lines near Madrid - And we got through, says Bill Scott

Irish Democrat 23rd October 1937 - Manifesto from Men who fought for Democracy in Spain

Irish Democrat 23rd October 1937 - ‘The Republic Stands for the Working People of Spain’

Irish Democrat 30th October 1937 - Frank Ryan promoted

Irish Democrat 4th September 1937 -

He would have liked to have met O'Duffy in Spain

By Harry Rushmore, reprinted from the 'Daily Worker', New York.

Thomas Patrick Simms was only a little shaver in Co. Tipperary when the Black and Tans started rolling over Ireland in their motor lorries spraying the inhabitants with machine-gun bullets.

But Tom, for all his fifteen years, had learned from his father and his grandfather that there was more behind 'they're hanging men and women for the wearin' o' the green' than just a song with some nice words in it.

For generations the Simms had tilled the soil of Ireland and its sod bore the imprint of their hard work - and also their blood, spilled during the long fight for democracy waged by the Irishmen against England.

So when the British troops came into Dublin, little Tom was there behind the barricades. The big rifle he used kicked like billy hell, but it didn't spoil his aim.

This week, a 'long way from Tipperary' Tom sat in the offices of the Medical Bureau to Aid Spanish Democracy and talked about the Dublin days and the Black-and-Tans. His eyes blue as the Fergus River that borders his native county, twinkled with excitement and he was tickled as a kid for Tom Simms was going to Spain.

With him were three companions. All had come down from Canada and with them they brought two shiny, new ambulances. They had helped the Communist Party of Canada to raise the money for these machines, and thousands of others toiled like harvest hands to reach the quota of £550 needed to purchase the ambulances. When the money was finally totalled, there was more than £1,000. 'I guess we're lucky,' Tom said, and he spoke for the whole group. 'There was lots of the fellows who wanted to go and do their bit and we're plenty pleased that they picked us.'

'But I'm worried about one thing,' said Thomas Patrick. 'I hear that 'General' O'Duffy is back in Ireland, I kind of hoped to meet him in Spain. 'He used to be my superior officer back in the old days. I didn't like him all too well then. And after the way he's turned fascist, any good Irishman who's proud of his country's traditions is bursting for a nice, quiet talk with the old boy.'

Tom left the island around 1924 and, bewildered and dead broke, jogged from country to country. Most of the time he served as a soldier, sometimes in India, sometimes in Borneo.

Tom had a total of two years schooling, but through his soldering, he learned that the definition of imperialism was a boot-heel on the neck and fighting was created by people who weren't called Tommy Atkins.

So Simms went to Canada. He liked the new, beautiful country and was glad to get away from the army. But he found the same thing there that he found in Ireland and India.

That's why he organised the workers of the Pioneer Mine out in the British Columbia hard-rock country. That's what made him start thinking after seeing how the strike was won, that there was a way out of all this. His development as a leader of the miners taught him the way.

So a few weeks ago when the Communist Party asked for money to buy ambulances, Tom not only raised plenty of dough in the mines, but volunteered as one of the crew.

His three companions, all Canadians, were equally ticked to get the call. Gedeon Menard, mechanic from Montreal, Victor Himmelfarb, University of Toronto graduate and Earl Rose, former member of the Royal Mounted Police round out a quartet that'll rank with any ambulance team in Spain.

They're also grateful - as are thousands of others - for the yeoman work of the Communist Party of Canada did in obtaining these ambulances.

And they're guarding the precious machines with a mother-love.

'It took pennies and nickels and dimes from people who don't have much to spare to buy these things,' the crew says.

'And they're needed in Spain,' says Tom. 'Don't worry about them not getting there.'

Looking at County Tipperary's son you got an idea that he meant just what he said.

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Irish Democrat 4th September 1937

Richard O'Neill - An Appreciation

By Covenanter

[Below we publish an appreciation by 'Covenanter' of Richard O'Neill, Belfast, whose death was reported in last week's Irish Democrat. He was killed in action at Jarama on February 14, fighting with the Spanish Government forces - ID Editor.]

I first knew of the death of Dickie O'Neill when I saw the Democrat last Friday. I was alone in the house at midnight when I read the list and it certainly came as a great shock to me, Dick was an old Christian Brother pupil and I knew him since boyhood. We swam together often in the Falls Baths and time and again we tramped the roads around Tornaroy. We used to exchange schoolboy literature, on which we were both authorities, and many a discussion we had on the merits of the 'boys of Greyfriars.'

When he was about sixteen Dick became more reserved and studious, and had, what we in our ignorance thought to be, odd ideas. He read a great deal and in his own quiet way became a shrewd and able debater.

Years after our schoolboy gang had broken up I met him again at Communist Party meetings. It was strange that we should meet again under the banner of Marx seeing that we were so different in many ways. Dick impressed everyone with his quiet determination and his hatred of the present system.

When the International Brigade was first formed, right from the start he was anxious to enlist. Party comrades tried to dissuade him as it was thought sufficient of the group had already left Belfast, but Dick would brook no refusal. He insisted on being sent, otherwise he said he would travel alone to Spain.

Before this determined stand our courageous young comrade could not be thwarted and so last year he sailed - to die for his beliefs inside three months. It is hard to think that we shall never see him again. I find it almost impossible to believe that we will ever meet again on the morning tram or to discuss the movement on our way home at night.

O'Neill was a great lad, and he died in a great cause. His example is an inspiration to us to work harder and be unflinching in the face of all danger. I have not yet heard the details of his death, but I know that he died as an Irish Communist would - fighting to the bitter end. In his life and death he kept up the traditions of the Communist Party. Along with so many other heroic comrades his sacrifice in Spain has shown that Proletarian steel is not a mere phrase but a grim reality.

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Irish Democrat 4th September 1937

Doleful Ditties of Donny Carney

(On ‘Beltona’, Two-Faced Record, No. 1916)

Oft, in the recent past,
‘Ere Bolshie billows drown me.
I stood basking in the light
With all the Mugs around me:
And in me ears
I hear the cheers,
By all my praises spoken.
Bright hopes that shone
Are dimmed and gone,
My heart is nearly broken?
Thus, I now stand aghast
With shattered dreams around me.
Nemesis has come at last
And in her death-clasp bound me.
When I remember all
The Gang flocked together
Now scattered (with the Bishop’s Fund)
Like leaves in wintry weather.
I feel like one
Who treads alone
Some battlefield deserted.
By Duce’s troops
And Hitler’s dupes
And Duffy’s Moors-Beshirted.
Thus, blows the wintry blast
Of parted fame around me.
Lay me when Death comes at last
Where the ‘Independent’ found me.

(NB. In the Donnycarney district dustbins will in future be emptied on Tuesdays and Fridays: City Manager).

Somhairle Mac Alistair.

Irish Democrat 11th September 1937

Liam Tumilson - In 1932 he said this

"I would rather die as James Connolly died than to die peacefully without having fought in the cause of working class freedom."

Lines written by Liam Tumilson, of Belfast, in a friend's autograph book, February 20, 1932.

He Died in Action at Jarama, March 14th 1937.

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Irish Democrat 11th September 1937

Welcomed Home from Spain

A packed audience in the Hatch Street Hall, Dublin, last Friday, gave a rousing welcome to the members of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade, who have been recently invalided home from Spain.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Women's Aid Committee of the Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic, Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington presiding. A letter expressing regret for being unable to attend was read from the Rev. Michael O'Flanagan.

A resolution was passed declaring that the present war in Spain is a conflict between the forces of Spanish democracy against the agencies of a brutal Fascism, Spanish and international, condemning the inhuman barbarities inflicted on the Spanish people by the Fascist forces and German and Italian intervention against the Spanish Republic, calling on the Twenty-Six County Government to re-establish proper diplomatic relations with the lawful Government of Spain, and take its stand against the foreign Fascist invasion of that country; calling on the Labour and Republican movements of all shades to unite their efforts in a common struggle against all attempts by Irish reaction to set up an Imperialist-Fascist dictatorship in Ireland and for the support of Irish democracy for the gallant fight of the Spanish people for freedom.

Terence Flanagan, Frank Edwards, Jim Prendergast, Jack Nalty and Joe Monks (all returned from Spain) gave vivid stories of their experiences at the front and their impression of the heroism of the people of Spain.

R J Connolly, John Swift and Peadar O'Donnell, supported the resolution. Peadar O'Donnell made a special appeal to the audience for support for the Irish Democrat in its present difficulties.

A collection for the Women's Aid Committee realised £7.

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Irish Democrat 18th September 1937

The Men who fought - Need your Help

Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington, as Chairman of the Women’s Aid Committee of the Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic, has issued the following statement:

Our Committee organised to help the men of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade, fighting against Fascism, is urgently in need of funds. We have thirty wounded and disabled men now home and in need of grants. The families of some of the brave men killed in Spain are also in need. Shall we have to tell them that we have no money?

It is the duty of every reader of this paper to contribute something, however small, and send it at once. Ship workers in Belfast, Dublin trade unionists, workers with collecting cards are among our steady weekly supporters. We thank all these and other friends who have generously come to our aid and we thank also those kind friends who have given (and are giving) hospitality in their homes to wounded and shell-shocked men.

Please collect among your friends and send a weekly sum, however small, if you are sincere in support of suffering Spain. Donations may be forwarded to H S Skeffington, 7 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin.

The Women’s Aid Committee of the Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic wish to acknowledge having received subscriptions from the following: “A few Derry Democrats,” Railway Worker, Coleraine, and James Connolly Club, 2540, W Adams St, Chicago.

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Irish Democrat 18th September 1937

Call to you from Men who fought for Democracy!

Dear Editor,

The news that the Irish Democrat may have to cease publication because of financial difficulties is most alarming. We were more than pleased to see Frank Ryan’s call from Spain to all readers and friends of Democracy to rally to the aid of the paper in its present difficulties.

Having recently returned from Spain we can support Frank Ryan when he says it is unthinkable that the Irish Democrat should cease publication. It would be a deadening blow to the forces of democracy and militancy in Ireland should the Democrat cease publication. And yet it will unless its appeal for financial support receives a ready and generous response.

The Irish Unit of the International Brigade was in the trenches at Jarama last April when the first issue of the Democrat arrived. Every one of us was overjoyed and eagerly read it, and all day it was discussed and talked about in the dugouts and outposts.

And after that, as further issues reached us, they went from hand to hand, all of us eager to learn of events at home, and some of us had the pleasure of seeing letters we had sent home published in its columns.

One day Michael Kelly (who has since paid the supreme price for his loyalty to Democracy and Republicanism) took the Democrat form one end of the line to the other, explaining its purpose to the French, American and English comrade. All these great fighters as soon as they heard its aims explained, dug into their pockets and gave all they could afford for such a worthy cause.

These men realised the position – they saw the Irish Democrat as the heavy artillery of the forces of Irish Democracy, struggling against the friends and agents of Fascism and to make known the justice of the Spanish people’s fight against Franco

And now we have to face the serious question that this paper may have to cease publication. Surely this will not be allowed to happen. The gallant Irishmen who gave their lives in Spain for the cause of democracy and liberty and those who are still risking their lives have made the immortal slogan ‘No Pasaran’ a living reality. Fascism has won no victory in Spain. But, friends, will it not be a victory for Fascism if the Irish Democrat ceases publication.

Yes, it will be a victory for Fascism if the only paper in Ireland that has fearlessly championed the cause of Spanish Democracy and exposed the O’Duffy-Belton-‘Independent’ racketeers is allowed to out of existence. Bt we fell confident that all readers and sympathisers will answer the call and thus roll back the difficulties that threaten the Democrat.

We ask you to be faithful to the memory of our comrades who died on the battlefield of Democratic Spain, fighting Fascism and rescuing the honour and good name of our country.

Answer the call of Frank Ryan and save the Irish Democrat, by subscribing every penny you can to its Defence Fund.


Frank Edwards
Jim Prendergast
Jack Nalty
Joe Monks
Terry Flanagan.
In response to the appeal by Frank Ryan in our last issue, a number of readers have sent us letters, many with subscriptions.

Two Belfast readers send us 5s, hoping we will overcome our difficulties. ‘Bookworm,’ Belfast, sends us 10s, regretting it isn’t more. ‘A Mill Worker,’ Dublin, sends us 2s 6d.

A full list of subscriptions will be published later.

This week we publish an appeal from a number of the men who have been invalided home form the Irish Unit of the International Brigade. Will their appeal be answered? Will those among our readers who can afford big subscriptions answer their appeal?

We thank all those who have sent us subscriptions. But we cannot say that our difficulties are resolved. Those friends of Democracy who are in a position to help us in a big way should realise they have a responsibility. Workers earning small wages send us their small donations. It is now up to those who are in a position to send substantial donations to come forward and help.

Can we look forward to a really big response in the coming week?

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Irish Democrat 25th September 1937

Irishmen take part in Aragon Victories

A letter has just been received from Frank Ryan, from Spain. He, along with our boys of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade, are now on the Aragon Front, where recently brilliant victories were won by the Republican Army, by the capture of Quinto and Belchite.

"Our Unit suffered light causalities this time," says Frank,, "but Peter Daly (of Enniscorthy, Wexford) was wounded in the stomach. This is the third bullet Peter has stopped since he arrived in Spain. His chances of recovery are good, Paddy O'Daire has taken over Peter's job and is making a good fist of it." Frank's letter speaks very optimistically of the Government's position, though he says the Fascists are putting up a fierce resistance.

His letter concludes with a request to all his friends to write to him and the boys of the Irish Unit. They want news about happenings in the homeland, newspapers and cigarettes. All letters to Frank Ryan can be addressed: Chambre 5E, Albacete, Spain.

Below we are pleased to publish a letter from Pat Murphy, who was seriously wounded in the capture of Brunete, in July, and whom Frank Ryan mentioned in the letter we published some weeks ago.

Greetings to you all in the 'ould country! I have not heard from Frank Ryan since the Irish Unit went into action, as I was wounded and am now in hospital. The last time we had a long talk was when we were having a bathe a few days before we went into action on July 6. Jack Nalty was along with us. I understand that Jack is now back in Ireland. If you see him wish him luck from me, I know his work will be brilliant, and constructive too.

Since he has left us some of the boys have crossed the inevitable border that requires no passports or recommendations. Of the Irish Unit some more of the comrades have paid the supreme sacrifice at Brunete. I suppose by now you know their names, lads like Kelly, Laughran, Davis and the others.

Fascist Devilry

I am in hospital, my right thigh was ripped open by a hand-grenade. I am having three grafting operations and these will take about three months to accomplish. And I have got to stay in bed all that time.

I was witness to a piece of Fascist devilry which proves that everything we have said about Fascism fully describes their cowardice and sadism. We had been fighting around Villanueva de la Canada on July 6 and early in the afternoon our battalion settled alongside a roadway leading to the town.

My platoon was in the forefront, about 400 yards from the village. The Fascists were sniping and machine-gunning under the wing of a Church. They were using the Church Tower as a fortress to protect them in their pious duties. On the outskirts of the town they had trenches and barbed wire so it was difficult for us to rush the town in broad daylight. So we waited for the night to fall.

Women as cover

Just as darkness fell we could see a crowd of people coming towards us from the town. They were using the roadway and calling out 'Camarada, Camarada.' Quite plainly could be seen the bright coloured dresses of women and children. I walked out on the road to meet them and to make sure that no trick was being played.

Whilst pointing out to the women the direction to take, I suddenly saw men, about 200 in number, armed and uniformed. They were Italian soldiers, I could see by their uniforms. I called upon them to halt and lay down their arms as they were mingled with the women and children. Immediately one of them rushed at me with his rifle pointed at my breast, I drew my rifle up and fired, his body crashed against mine and we both toppled into a ditch. By the time I had struggled clear of him he was dead.

It happened so quickly that our chaps thought it was me who had got the bullet. In the meantime the remaining Fascists opened fire with machine-guns and rifles, firing from their hips, and throwing hand bombs. Our chaps replied very vigorously.

Killed the wounded

A few minutes after this lively battle one of the Fascist lobbed a hand-bomb into the ditch where I was firing from and that put me out of action. I was weakened from loss of blood and I pulled myself out of this spot which seemed to be the object of the Fascist's attentions.

As I lay helpless in the field alongside the road I could se the Fascists working slowly along the ditches on each side, bombing and firing as they went. Those in the rear seemed to have the job of separating their wounded from our own. They would catch hold of each one by the soldier and lift him up to see him more closely. If he was one of ours they would prop him up and shoot him through the chest.

The heap of mutilated dead they left there was horrible to see and was a symbol of their kindly feeling for humanity!

They paid for it

They paid the price for this, though, as they moved along they came in contact with the main part of our Battalion, who soon settled accounts with the, Our boys then advanced and took Villanueva de la Canada.

The courage and moral of our boys was wonderful. I got picked up by some of the Dimitrov Battalion, who rushed me to the dressing station.

I hope you drop me a Democrat now and then, and other publications. I've read 'Salad!,' it's fine. And now I'll end with greetings to all, and success to the fighting in Ireland.


Pat Murphy

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Irish Democrat 2nd October 1937

A letter from Spain

Still another fighter of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade has written to us. he is Johnny Power, one of the three Power brothers, of Waterford, who went to Spain to fight for Spanish democracy when the call was made.

Johnny was wounded in the heavy fighting at Brunete, when the Irish unit went into its fourth big engagement. He is well known in Waterford as a member of the Republican Congress and a former member of the IRA.

His letter is full of praise for the Irish Democrat and he wishes it every success. "I am really proud to be a member of the Irish Unit and to have known those brave men who gave their lives for Spanish freedom," he states. "We are confident of victory here and when we have achieved that, we will all return to take our pace in the old fight for Ireland's freedom once more."

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Irish Democrat 2nd October 1937

The Irish Unit's First Battle

How the Irish Went into Action on the Cordoba Front

By Donal O'Reilly

This week one of the first of the groups of Irishmen who made their way to Spain to fight for the Republic tells of one adventure. This is the first of a series; others will contribute similar stories.

Donal O'Reilly is a son of J K O'Reilly, author of the famous 'Wrap the Green Flag Round Me'; as a boy he took part in the 1916 Rising, later served in the Tan and Civil Wars.

Christmas time refreshes memories. Childhood days of well kept promises that brought days of happiness. The memories of co-operative efforts that lightened the corridors of Mountjoy and other evil spots.

A war in Spain. The old enemies of our National struggle taking the side of bloody Fascism. Stampeding the Irish people with the prostitution of ideals, they send a challenge to many resolute heads.

Grim faced men from Ireland answer the challenge. Sharp differences of years talk a danger. Then the swift journey to take our place and prove our mettle in the great test.

Spain. A few days of restless training, checking the impatience of those 'old soldiers' who had worn the by-roads of Ireland forming fours and taking cover. First the twos and threes in action.

We fell proud

At last an English-speaking company, with the Connolly Unit as its No. 1 Section, is formed. How proud we Irish felt. How eager to prove we would uphold the trust.

Christmas time 1936. A swift rush to the Cordoba Front. Ralph Fox, with his particular regard for the Irish lads, giving us the 'Daily Worker,' saying: 'Of course you'll take the 'Daily' into action.'

Conroy, Fox and May can't be stopped taking down and cleaning their 'Betsy' (machine-gun). A comradeship of heroes.

Christmas Day at Andajur, and the final fitting out. Grub is late. A herd of goats are milked and Nalty and myself get a pint or two. Experimenting with our Spanish we get it heated but nearly miss our draft.

We move into a reserve position. A forced march to the front line is broken half-way by the arrival of lorries. The whirl of planes come from overhead, the lorries halt and we scatter. The planes move away and we are off, singing. Then the order is passed: 'When the lorries stop you are under fire, jump out and take positions.' The lorries stop at an olive grove; we're out and down among the trees.

A half-hours wait. The war seems far away and we move from group to group. I notice a London Jew with a tin of bully-beef and move towards him, but Frank Edwards runs me close. The beef is shared as only a Jewish comrade would share; we relax and eat.

A Comrade is Killed

I rejoin my group. Again the drone of planes over our heads and sweeping of planes, over our heads and sweeping back spraying us with machine guns. Burying our heads beings comfort and I wonder at the funny tunes machine-guns play in the air. Away the planes go and then silence. I move back to Frank. I notice the Jewish comrade in a funny position. Nerves!

Sitting down I notice the tense faces. A chorus of voices explaining how close the bullets came. I shake my head doubtfully. Suddenly the Jewish comrade is shook and lifted back - dead! On examination we discovered four bullet wounds across his back.

The Company forms and moves to the attack. A V shaped movement with the Irish Unit advancing on the left flank. Kit Conway is fair bursting to get to grips, but first we must lend two of our best gunners - May and Conroy - to the main French Battalion. We move through the olive grove with the zig-zung of the bullets playing a tune. Occasionally the snick as a bullet clips off a cluster of leaves. Out from the friendly trees, down a short valley crossing a stream, then up, up, amongst the hills. It's tough work with our tremendous load. Trench helmets, 250 rounds of ammunition, bombs, gas masks, machine guns, spare pans of ammunition.

We halt for a break. Kit calls for a volunteer scout. Refusing to wait until we get our wind, away goes Kit.

On, on, up. We make contact with our right flank, under Captain Nathan, OC of the company. Nathan is an ex-British officer who had served against us at home, but the Irish lads took him into their hearts the night he formed us up and told us he fought against us once, but was now going to wipe out his mistake.

We move to the crest. The fire is terrific. Taking up firing position, only half of our guns are effective. The language is terrific. Joe Monks is hit.

Prendergast's and Dinny Coady's guns are shot to pieces in their hands. Bits of the guns fly and we think we're all hit. Nathan and Kit roar down the hill - singing or roaring like fiends of hell. It's dark. The Fascists break and retire. This attack is a thing apart in their scheme of things. Had they used one gun position our story was finished. But war is a story of missed chances.

Enemy Resistance

We are 350 yards from the village of Villa del Rio. Standing, we pour in all our effectives. Groups of Fascists break and retire. Verey lights and tracer bullets attempt to draw our fire, but our old soldiers weigh the trick, and keep the fire well directed. We anxiously wait the arrival of our supports before making the final assault. Excitement still holds our fifty, and many want to push on. That would be madness. A consultation and we retire in a sweeping right movement. As we move the enemy rakes all our old ground. That right swing serves us well.

Back on the crest of the hill we learn we moved too fast. Digging ourselves in we pass the remainder [of the night] in the darkness huddled together attempting to resist the terrific cold.

Dawn. Off again, this time towards a road to the right. Our big guns behind assist with a barrage. but artillery is not serious on this Front. About two of every five shells fail to explode. Striking an angle on the road we advance under terrific fire. Kit is a trojan, darting up and down our Indian files. It's clear the enemy have stiffened their resistance and cheering will not dislodge them. we cross open ground, clouds of dust are kicked up by bullets. I feel something queer in my mouth. It's my tongue, hard as a piece of wood.

Nalty is wounded

it's clear the terrific machine-gun barrage is a prelude to a Fascist attack. Our weapons are a joke, unless supported by the advance of our own heavy machine guns. Taking up a firing position in a break on a sloping piece of ground, Kit spreads us out. Duff, Nalty, and myself are on the edge of the road. We bang away at the fascists, whom we recognise as German troops. Nathan and a few others join us. Nathan tells us, May and Conroy, were the only two left out of their crew and they were coming back to us. We realise we are now fighting a rearguard action. Cummins and Gough are wounded and move back. Jack Nalty is hit. I won't look. Paddy Duff attends him. I glance and see both sides of his chest are hit. I must cry or act the pig, so I go back to the gun for relief. It's clear Jack is hit badly. I think he is finished. I talk to Nathan. We advise Jack to start making his own way back. We'll cover the ground later, perhaps. Jack crawls away.

In another half-hour over comes the Fascist planes. Our optimists look for their markings. A tremendous Italian bomber drones at about 300 feet towards us. I'm sure we're to be ripped to fragments. Another missed chance. The Fascists break through to the heights on our right - a pincer movement on the road. We move back to the shelter of the olive trees.

The Thaelmann Battalion comes up and the Fascists' left flank is wheeled. We rest, seeking food and smokes. A day of shells, most of them dud. We thank the workers who faked these shells for bloody Fascism.

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Irish Democrat 9th October 1937

The death of Peter Daly

It is with deep sorrow we announce the death, in Spain, of Peter Daly, of Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. He died of wounds on Sept. 5, which he received during the Government's offensive against Quinto (Aragon Front), On August 25. He had been wounded on two previous occasions but at Quinto he received serious stomach wounds which proved fatal.

Peter Daly went to Spain just twelve months ago when men from Ireland and every country were answering the call to defend liberty and justice against Fascist aggression. He never spared himself in the struggle and took part in most of the big battles. In the fighting at Cordoba he distinguished himself and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant for bravery in the field of battle. He was later promoted to higher rank and at the time of his death he was a Battalion Commander.

Peter Daly was a good Republican and served as a member of the Wexford IRA under Stephen Hayes. At the time the Republican Congress was formed he joined that organisation but shortly afterwards was forced to seek employment outside Ireland.

Peter Daly's name is now linked with Kit Conway, Fox, Coady, and the other brave Irishmen who by their deaths on the battlefields of democratic Spain have saved the honour and good name of Ireland from the foul attempt of O'Duffy and Belton to have the world believe that this country was on the side of Fascist barbarism.

The courage, heroism and sacrifice of men like Daly must inspire and urge us forward in the work of developing unity among the democratic forces, thus creating a mighty barrier that will stand before any attempt of the Fascist elements in Ireland if they should dare to make an assault on the people's liberty.

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Irish Democrat 9th October 1937

William McCullough election meeting

[Small note: There was an advertisement for a Belfast meeting in support of the election campaign of William McCullough, CPI candidate, in the St Annes Ward for the Council elections. James Prendergast, a recent Irish volunteer in Spain, was listed to speak.

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Irish Democrat 9th October 1937

Kilkenny Workers' Council Condemns Attendance at O'Duffy Reception

Recently a section (unfortunately, however, a majority) of the Kilkenny Corporation made themselves appear ridiculous in the eyes of the country by conferring the freedom of the city on General O'Duffy in recognition of his services as a 'defender of Christianty' (in the company of the heathen Moors, of course, was not mentioned.)

Only the Blueshirts and shoneen sections of the Corporation turned up to the meeting, but to their shame and disgrace, Messrs Lennon and Connell, two Labour representatives, also attended.

Kilkenny Workers' Council had something to say to these two alleged Labour men when it met last Friday. The Council demanded an explanation from Lennon and Connell for their action in attending a meeting which had as its object the conferring of an honour on a man of known Fascist tendencies.

Lennon said he went to the meeting as a private citizen, not as member of the Labour Party or Corporation.

Mr Leahy (Postal Workers delegate) retorted:

"Even if you went there as a private citizen, if you had any regard for your position as a Labour member of the Corporation and considering what General O'Duffy is, and what his policy is, I think you should have been absent. Any trade unionist should not have been there."

Mr Patrick Farrell, delegate of the wollen mill workers, joined in Mr Leahy's protest, and asked if O'Duffy and his like got their way what would become of trade unions in this country. Organised workers met O'Duffy and the Blueshirt menace and beat them. If any leader, or so called leader, rose up and tried to smash organised labour they would harken to the standard of James Connolly, and their cry would be 'NO Surrender.' There would not be a dog's life for them in the country if O'Duffy got his way.

Other delegates joined in condemning the conduct of Lennon and Connell and the Workers' Council agreed that the Labour Party should take up the matter and deal with these two men for their conduct.

We echo the views of the delegates of the Kilkenny Workers' Council in condemning the conduct of these two men. They are a disgrace to the good name of the Labour movement in Kilkenny and we hope the Labour Party will take the necessary steps to make Lennon and Conell understand there is no room in the Labour movement for people who will pretend that as 'private citizens' they can attend Fascist gatherings.

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Irish Democrat 9th October 1937

Ireland’s Honour is redeemed

That day at Guadarrama when fascism received a Smashing Defeat

This week we publish the second of a series of articles to be contributed by members of the Irish unit of the International Brigade.

Paddy Smith is a young Dublin republican who answered the call to defend Republican liberty in Spain. He was twice wounded.

The Irish Unit had been nearly a month in action on the Cordoba front when the news reached us that Franco was massing thousands of German and Italian troops around Madrid for a second big push to capture the capital.

We also learned that the new forces of the International brigade were being rushed to the Madrid Front to assist in stemming this new bid of the Fascists for victory.

And early one morning our fears about Franco’s new offensive were confirmed. We were awakened in our dugouts and told to pack, ready to evacuate our positions under cover of darkness. We were going to Madrid.

Our long journey to Madrid, two days by train and lorry was very tiresome, but everybody was cheerful and eager to be in the great defence of the Capital and the journey was lightened by songs and cheers.

Considering we had just been through heavy fighting and lost some of our best lads, the morale of the boys was wonderful.

When we reached the city and were speeding through the outskirts, some of the old campaigners told us we were going in the direction of the Guadarrama mountains, North-East of Madrid, and as it turned out this was the front we were bound for.

Towards evening the lorries stopped and we unloaded and marched into positions. We were in close reserve, and going into action early next morning.

The Garibaldians

We awoke next morning to the tune of heavy artillery and machine-gun fire all around us. Franco’s push had begun. It was a great sight to see our Brigade- Irish, English and French – moving into action in deployed formation across a flat plain. But as we were moving into front line positions, the Fascist observers must have seen us, for we immediately came under a heavy artillery barrage.

A shell burst nearby and I saw three English comrades fall. It was getting very hot, but Frank Ryan managed to guide us safely to our allotted positions. All that day our activities were confined to exchanges of rifle and machine gun fire and that night we got orders to dig ourselves in. We were instructed to be constantly on the alert for the Fascists were expected to attack. However, as their planes were no use for night attack, they did not come over. They seldom attacked without their planes.

Next morning they attacked on our right flank. This position was commanded by the Garibaldi Brigade (anti-Fascist Italians). The Fascists might as well have been attacking a stonewall with their bare fists as attacking these men who knew what Fascism was and who had suffered so terribly under Mussolini in their native Italy.

The cheering and singing of the Garibaldians as they went into action against the oncoming Fascists gave new courage and inspiration to the other battalions along the line. And the Fascists meeting such resistance retreated in disorder. Later that day we were told to get ready to go over the top. We were counter-attacking all along the front.

The receipt of this news was greeted with the singing of the Internationale. The inspiring spectacle of this great song, coming from thousands of throats, in many different languages, gave the Fascists warning that something was amiss, for they sprayed out lines with machine-guns and trench mortars exploded all around us.

This surprise burst of fire took a terrible toll of life among us and stretchers were hastily loaded with wounded men.

Coady is Killed

We lay flat, teeth clenched, waiting for the signal to go into action. Suddenly I felt as if my leg had been wrenched from my body. I was hit. My pain eased and my leg went numb. Paddy Duff, who was lying beside men, jumped to my assistance. As he was helping me down to the first aid station, another shell landed dangerously close to us. Paddy instantly flung me to the ground, throwing himself on top of me as I fell, to protect me from flying shrapnel. Paddy was like that, always willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of another.

The first aid attendant was dressing me when Frank Edwards came crawling down with blood pouring from his side. He was shouting for the stretcher-bearers to go up and bring Dinny Coady and Pat Murphy to the first aid station as they also had been wounded. When the stretcher-bearers went up they found Dinny dead and Pat seriously wounded.

‘Kit’ visits me

I later met Frank Edwards and Pat Murphy in a Madrid hospital. They were doing well. Dinny was buried, with military honours, behind the lines. Kit Conway and Frank Ryan came to see us and told us how, after we were hit, the fascists had retreated from two villages and as a result of this action the Irish Unit was front-page news in Spain. We had redeemed the honour of Ireland.

Since then in other battles many Irish have fallen in defence of the Spanish Republic. We shall never forget them.

Their spirit will guide us in the fight at home and the four winds of Ireland will echo these words which gave courage to the people of Spain: ‘They shall not pass.’

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Irish Democrat 16th October 1937

Derry demonstrates its sympathy with Spain

Remarkable scenes were witnessed at Derry on Sunday, October 3, when forty-one Spanish sailors left the L M S Station, Waterside, en route for Barcelona, where they are to be drafted into the Spanish Government forces. They were the crews of the ‘Serantes’ and ‘Atalaya’, which, together with the ‘Gorbea Mendi’ are being detained in Derry pending litigation in the Northern Ireland High Courts, as to the ownership of the ships.

Their comrades from the ‘Gorbea Mendi’, together with the four or five members of each crew who have been left in charge of the ships, assembled at the station to give the men a send off, but they were dwarfed by the enthusiastic crowd of locals who swarmed past the barrier when it became known that no platform tickets were being issued.

Proud of Irish Unit

For fully half-an-hour before the time scheduled for the train’s departure, the station was thronged, and there was much shaking of hands, and harty cries of ‘Salud’ and ‘Buen Viaje,’ not only from the Spaniards who are to remain behind, but from many of the locals who had learned a few phrases during the sojourn of the men in the city. There were many girls in the crowd, schoolboys who had been surprised at the friendliness displayed by these foreigners when a few of the more adventurous had visited the ships, and there were fathers and young men who had become best firm friends of these seamen during their brief stay.

These seamen had won their way into the hearts of the people of Derry, as was evidenced by the hearty send off they received as well as by the tears which fell from many an eye when the train had at last passed from sight. During their two months sojourn in Derry, these Spaniards made many friends, while they proved worthy ambassadors of the Spanish Republic. As Andreas Guenechea, one of the Trade Union delegates who supervised the departure, stated to a reporter, they had found themselves in hostile surroundings at the start, but during their stay they had won many friends for the Spanish Republic, and the chances are that if they had remained for another few months all Derry would have learned the truth about Spain. The delegate also stated that they were proud of the fact that Irishmen were fighting side by side with their comrades in the International Brigade in Spain.

These Spanish seamen had been a picturesque sight in the streets of Derry, with their ‘Boinas’ or berets and when it became known that they had to leave for Spain, there were expressions of sympathy on all sides.

When the time of the departure at last arrived, railway officials had considerable trouble holding back the crowds which pressed forward for a last handclasp, but eventually the way was cleared, with roars of encouragement from the platform and an answering shout from the train. As the train rounded the bend on the line about fifty yards from the platform, the heads appeared at the windows of the opposite side of the train, as the Spaniards strove for a last glimpse of the friends they had left behind.

Attended Mass

Derry has certainly profited by the visit of these ships. The sight of many of the men attending mass every Sunday in the various city churches was a shock for many of the Catholics who had believed the propaganda about the war in Spain, and even about the ‘Red’ Basques, for seamen, as a rule, ‘don’t care.’ And the crowd which gave the train such a hearty send-off was composed practically entirely off Catholics!

The repatriation of the men was arranged by the Spanish Government in collaboration with the men’s unions – the C N T, the UGT and the Basque unions.

Sean Bolan

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Irish Democrat 16th October 1937

‘St Teresa would back Madrid’

Frank, Warm-Hearted Irish Woman in Spain

Review by H S Skeffington
Farewell to Spain
, by Kate O’Brien (Heinemann, London, Price 7s 6d) [37p] In this remarkable book, which sets to be a travel book, from a personal slant, Kate O’Brien gives a brilliant picture of the Spain of yesterday, of its people and their ways, of churches and palaces, bullfights and saints and in one chapter, ‘No Pasaran’ she has this:

‘Though there are many deaths for her sake now and likely to be many more, this is not Spain’s deathbed: and though the phoenix rising cannot be said to be an unchanged bird, nevertheless, Madrid with mended and perhaps not wholly recognizable face will live its characteristic life again some day. I am not a Communist, but I believe in the Spanish republic and its constitution and I believe in that republic’s absolute right to defend itself against military Juntas, the Moors and all interfering doctrinaires and mercenaries. And naturally I believe, as one must, in the Spanish republic’s right to establish itself communistically, if that is the will of the people. A very large ‘if’ with which only Spain itself can deal.’

And she concludes:

‘It is enough that it should be clear, as we approach the capital of the ‘all-Spain’s’ that the writer is on the side of the Republic, of the Army in Overalls and of the indomitable madrilenos, who have said of the Republic’s enemies: No Pasaran – they shall not pass.’

It is our fight

The writer’s knowledge of Spain is deep and her love of its people profound. Bilbao was the first Spanish town she knew, but Madrid, Toledo, and many others are also familiar and we fell we know them thoroughly from her pages, better perhaps than if we had visited them ourselves. The humour of the Bilbaino she likens to that of her own Munster – ribald, tough and unsubtle, not urbane and dry as is Madrid, which she compared to Dublin’s. There is here, too, the Irish predilection for the ‘fun of the phrase,’ but she judges the Spanish the more kind-hearted in their fun that we.

To Irun she bids a sad farewell, adding that though Spain is wont to play a lone hand she cannot do so now, for this fight is for ‘an issue which is everyone’s immediate concern everywhere.

‘It is a war waged by the forces of militaristic absolutism against democracy.

‘However anti-Communist you may be, and however you may deplore the burning of churches…you cannot if you take the trouble to read the 1931 Constitution, deny its dignity, justice, humanity, efficiency and natural idealism. Nor can you claim that there in the Church is more than disestablished and politically controlled. And it is a fact that though certain details of these measures of control were disputed by an actively Catholic nation as reasonable and sound.’ The written then tells of how the constitution fared in the five years that followed after the reaction and disappointments of the terrible obstacles it met until at length Asturias and Catalonia lost patience – ‘but because it was not what they had set out to be, not because they wanted the Constitution over-thrown.’

Being a pacifist Kate O’Brien proclaims her hatred of all war, but adds that ‘at least a war waged on a clear insistence that government of the people by the people for the people shall not perish from the earth is one very impressive if horrible way of saying something which must never, never, be denied – whereas, Franco’s openly aimed at the murder of every democratic principle…strikes not merely for the death of Spain, but at every decent dream or effort for humanity everywhere.’

Santa Teresa

Finally she clinches her argument by linking up Santa Teresa with the slogan, ‘From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,’ and adds boldly: ‘it is probable- pace the ‘Universe’ ad the ‘Catholic Herald’ – that she, indomitable fighter, would have been today on the side of Valencia and Madrid…to tell the truth, I find it impossible to imagine that in this present war so generous a soldier (as Teresa) would be a pacifist.

Space does not permit more quotations. The reader should read the book fro himself. The chapter on Saint Teresa, alone, is worth getting the book for; certainly for me the writer lights-up Teresa as never she has been before; no mere remote mystic, but a valiant woman, a constructive worker, whose motto was “Accustom yourself to have great desires.”

Farewell Spain ends on no pessimistic note, but thus: ‘There is always this question to the East of the Madrid-Valencia road…May it be held open forever and for all our sakes.’

I would like to see this book by this generous hearted Irishwoman, who knows and loves Spain, read by her countrymen and women throughout Ireland, many of whom are still in darkness as to the realities in Spain.

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Irish Democrat 16th October 1937

Successful Belfast Meetings Held

Belfast anti-Fascists have decided to form an International Brigade Dependent’s Committee to organize a fund for the dependents of those who have lost their lives in the Spanish struggle and to hold a public reception for comrades returning from service in the International Column.

A joint meeting representative of the Socialist Party, Belfast Trades Council and the Communist Part, took place this week and formed a committee with the above objects. Mr. Hugh Todd and Miss Betty Sinclair were elected Chairman and Secretary, respectively, of the provisional Committee.

The Labour Hall, Belfast, was packed out for the showing of the film ‘International Brigade.’ The show was held under the auspices of the Socialist Party.

The leading lights of the Brigade appearing on the screen were enthusiastically applauded by the audience.

After the film show James Prendergast (Dublin) delivered a lecture on his experiences with the International Brigade in Spain.

Ted Bourne, of Belfast, (also just returned from Spain), presided. Jack Macgougan, Secretary NISP made an appeal for funds for the newly-formed Spanish Aid Dependents Committee and the audience responded with a splendid collection.

A well attended meeting, held last Monday at the Labour Hall, Belfast, by the Belfast Branch of the Communist Party listened to an outline of Communist policy in connection with the forthcoming elections to the Northern Parliament. W H McCullough (prospective Communist candidate for St. Anne’s Ward) was enthusiastically received by the audience and in a most telling speech exposed the reactionary policy of Craigavon and put forward his Party’s electoral policy.

Mrs Despard, the veteran of many struggles, received a great ovation when she appeared on the platform, and declared her support for the candidature of Mr. McCullough.

James Prendergast, of Dublin, also spoke and extended greetings from the Dublin Branch of the Communist Party.

A collection of £6 15s was taken at the meeting.

Belfast Democrats please note

The Belfast ‘International Brigade Dependent’s Committee’ has arranged for the holding of a Reception for those Belfast members of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade who have been recently invalided home.

The reception will be held in the Labour Hall, 48 York Street, on Friday, October 22, at 8 p.m.

Alderman Harry Midgely, MP, and the Rev. Dr. Agnew, BA. Have been invited to speak, along with other trade Union and Labour representatives.

The minimum admission charge is one shilling.

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Irish Democrat 16th October 1937

Six Volunteers to spy on Moors lines near Madrid

And we got through, says Bill Scott

Bill Scott’s full story must be told by somebody other than himself. He was, perhaps, the first Irishman to reach Spain, fought on most fronts there, heard the Irish Unit had arrived, tried to get transferred, but always missed it. So, until he was invalided home, he remained a lone Irishman. Here is one episode of his adventures. Bill Scott, an old IRA man, is the son of a 1916 and ICA veteran.

We saw Alex, our German Commander, talking to Arnold Jeans at the end of the road. We knew something was in the air. They pointed across the valley to the hill occupied by German fascists and Moorish troops.

The valley of death, as we used to call it, lay between our lines and their. The Thaelmann Battalion must hold it at all costs for the price of its capture was enormous, and it was the key to the hill dominating University City. Arnold Jeans, a man of amazing courage, was our section leader. He could speak eight languages. He and the German commander came walking down the road, talking in German.

Over to the left and beyond our lines stood a big red house. It was towards this house they were pointing as they walked down the bullet swept road. The German fascists were very soon to surrender the hill to men from their own country.

Arnold Jeans approached us. He said he wanted six volunteers: it always meant five and himself. We were to creep over to the red house and see if it was still occupied by the enemy. I can’t remember how many times la Casa Rojo Grande was captured and recaptured by our men. It had been shelled all during the earlier part of the day by our artillery.

‘Rose of Tralee’

Over we went, with Raymont Cox singing ‘the Rose of Tralee.’ I often cursed the day I taught him the words of that song. Cox and I were pals. I met him first at Port Bon station in September, 1936. He had run away from home, purchased a weekend ticket to Paris, made his way to the Pyrenees Mountains and under cover of darkness crossed the frontier into Spain. He was arrested by the Catalan police and taken to port Bon station fro interrogation. He said he wanted to fight fascism. On account of his youth they sent him back across the border.

A second attempt ended in his being arrested by the French police. Finally, he was picked up in a semi-exhausted state by a patrol. The four-militia men listened sympathetically to the story of this Southampton youth. They gave him food and drink and a lift to Barcelona, where I met him a second time.

We became great pals and always went out together. He made me teach him the words of the ‘Rose of Tralee’ and he was forever singing it.

At Sarria Barracks, where we were in training for a few weeks prior to going to Madrid sleep was impossible after 6 a.m., Cox would be one of the first to rise and with him ‘the pale moon was rising above the green mountain.’ Usually at night when we wanted to sleep, ‘the cool shades of evening their mantles were spreading.’

As we passed through our lines we were greeted here and there by an inquisitive comrade as to where we were going. We didn’t know. Are you going to give yourselves up, somebody would ask?

We left our front lines behind us. A few yards ahead of us Sidney Avener, and ‘Aussie’ (an Australian), were on outpost duty. They were fighting, as usual, over a hole. ‘Aussie’ claimed to have dug it. Avener took possession and it wasn’t big enough for the two of them. We saluted them and went on our way. It was no affair of ours. We only wondered if we would ever pass that way again.

As we reached Las Casa Rojo the weird singing of a shell, terminating in a terrific explosion, made us dive for cover. Alex gave an order. We followed him up a slope leading to the house.

Three of us were posted outside to keep watch while Alex led the way into the deserted red house.

The brick wall behind us was crumbling fast before the Fascist machine-gun bullets. Now and then a shell would burst a few yards away. Over to the left we could see hundreds of Moors running around in a disorderly manner. Obviously they had abandoned the house when it came in range of our artillery. We didn’t fire on them; that would betray out already precarious position. But they got it that night...

The Hill is Won

A shell whistled overhead. It struck La Casa Rojo. With our faces buried in the ground we knew the wall behind us had crashed. We knew the four men inside must all be dead. To us that meant disaster, for good leaders have a way of inspiring confidence, and how could we get back without Arnold Jeans? How could our Company exist without him?

Fate had often tricked us before. This time it had presented us with a miracle, for the four men came walking out of the house carrying some war material with them.

We started on the journey back to report to our Battalion. Again we passed our comrades in the front lines. We passed the lads who a short time before had thought we had embarked on journey’s end.

The Thaelmann Battalion attacked that evening. All through that night a battle raged for possession of the hill, held by the fascists. Next day it was in the hands of the Army of the Spanish Republic.

Today a pile of shattered ruins stands as a memorial to German comrades who routed German fascists and Moors in the vicinity of La Casa Rojo Grande. Arnold Jeans and Raymond Cox are dead. With five other British comrades they fell in an engagement with a Moorish column on December 19, last.

The young lad who wanted to fight Fascism was buried with military honours, along with six of his countrymen, at Fuencarrall, a Northern suburb of the city they died to save.

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Irish Democrat 23rd October 1937

Manifesto from Men who fought for Democracy in Spain

[The following statement has been issued by a number of the members of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade. We have pleasure in acceding to their request that we publish this statement. Ed. Irish Democrat.]

We, the undersigned, wounded members of the Irish Unit serving under Frank Ryan with the Spanish Republican Army, feel that it is now necessary to raise our voices in a direct appeal to the Irish nation. In the name of our fifty comrades whose graves dot the Spanish battlefields, in the name of our comrades still in action, we speak on behalf of their cause.

When the conflict in Spain opened in July 1936 we saw Ireland deluged by a propaganda such as had not been seen since 1914. An attempt was made to sweep the country in a wave of hysteria. We were told that the Government elected by an alliance of Trade Unionists, workers' parties, liberal Republicans, tenant farmers and separatists of Catalonia and the Basque country, were really no Government, but a mob of assassins, priest-murderers, and church burners. We saw Franco and the rebel generals described as the 'Patriot forces' and as defenders of Christianity. It was represented that every Irishman and woman could be on only one side in this dreadful struggle - the side of the rebels.

Franco brought back Moors

We saw the powerful nations of Europe uniting - possibly for the first time in history - to deny a properly elected Government its right, long established under international law, to purchase arms and other supplies abroad. We saw Franco bringing back the Moors to Europe, to crush his own people. We saw later a regular Italian Army landed in Spain. Yet the Spanish people, whom we were told were against their Government, fought on, almost without arms, against both the military forces that had risen against them and the new foreign invaders.

Then we saw Franco's acts in the territory conquered by him. While claiming to be a Republican, he abolished the Republican flag and restored the monarchist standard. Though we were told he was a man of the people, he executed Trade Union leaders, made the Fascist salute compulsory, outlined a 'corporative' system, and sent as his representatives abroad the marquises, counts and grandees of the old regime.

Above all, we noted those who supported Franco in this and other countries. We saw the 'Irish Independent' spreading atrocity propaganda as it did about 'Catholic Belgium' in 1914. We saw that its allies in Britain were the 'Daily Mail,' the 'Morning Post,' and diehard Tories, well-known to us for their attitude to Ireland and any other people striving towards liberty. We saw General O'Duffy, Mr Patrick Belton and others, who but three years ago were in the forefront of a blatant effort to uproot democratic government in this country, organising financial and even military support for the war to overthrow the Spanish Republican Government.

It was now clear to us that the same sinister forces that had stamped the Irish people into the Great War in 1914 were again at work, for as false a cause, with as cynical a propaganda.

They came from all lands

Madrid was ringed round with enemies, foreign artillery and aircraft raining death upon its people, destroying its treasures of art and architecture, while even its women and children were digging trenches to hold back the invaders. At that moment the call went out to the democracy of the world to rally where their rulers had failed.

Their response was the most moving episode of latter-day history. By sea and illegally across frontiers, 80,000 men of all nations answered the call. Men of all parties and none, of all creeds and colours and tongues; staking their lives as proof of their unity with the outraged Spanish people. The International Brigade marched into beleaguered Madrid, to give new heart to its ill-armed defenders.

Ireland, with its matchless record of resistance to oppression, would have been found wanting before the eyes of the world had it stood apart. But we did not stand apart. We assembled under Frank Ryan in Spain: Republicans, trade unionists, members of Labour Parties and even Fianna Fail, exiles from overseas.

We were less than 300 in number, and have been in action since last December. We will leave it to the Spanish historian of the near future to tell whether we worthily acquitted ourselves, whether we upheld the honour of Ireland. We will say only that we fought on five fronts, that our small band has lost nearly 50 dead and at least another 50 wounded, and that our Irish Unit still holds their line.

In Andalusia, on Christmas Day, we lost our first seven heroes. In January we were transferred to Guadarrama and lost more. At Jarama, in storming the heights of Pingarron, our captain, Kit Conway, fell and our commandant and leader, Frank Ryan, always with his men in action, was twice wounded. Here, too, we lost the Rev. R M Hilliard, a Church of Ireland clergyman, who had taken his pace in the ranks. At Brunete, in July, four of our Unit were killed and a number wounded.

We fought for a Just Cause

Our experience in Spain has convinced us that we were right in taking the step we did. We saw for ourselves that the propaganda still being circulated here was a grotesque misrepresentation. We say to the Irish people that there is no 'Red mob' in Republican Spain; that all parties have united to defend the Republic, so that the Spanish people may freely determine their own destinies in the future; that in the Spanish Republic there will be unqualified liberty of conscience and freedom to practice religion, with an end to attempts - such as that made by the 'Christian' Front here - to make the Church of the majority of us an adjunct of political parties; and that all the Spanish people want are the independence of their historic country, the right to work and live in peace on the land they till, and the means to educate their children out of the illiteracy they have been condemned to themselves.

And we ask these questions of the Irish people:

Is a nation that has striven for centuries to rid itself of an alien yoke now to support those who would deprive Catalans and Basques of their national liberties, customs and language and who will make the whole Iberian peninsula a Fascist colony?

Are Irish farmers, whose fathers fought under Davitt, to support a merciless and rack-renting landlord class in its efforts to crush tenant farmers?

Are Irish trade unionists to support those who have outlawed all Unions and executed thousands whose only offence was that they carried a union card?

Give to Spain its Rights

Are Irish teachers and others engaged in cultural work to take sides with those who aped Hitler, barbarism by burning the works of Spain's greatest thinkers, who dragged Spain's greatest poet, Frederico Garcia Lorca, through the streets of Grenada before killing him, who hurled bombs on the Prado?

There can be only one side for the Irish people. And it is on the side that has been shamefully traduced. As yesterday, so it is today. The lordlings and generals, with the wealth and mighty ones of the earth behind them, have made the world ring with new 'Scullabogues' and 'Wexford Bridges'; the men in frieze-coats and dungarees, the poor teachers and scholars, cannot be heard. Though every fact attests the justice of their cause.

We call on the Irish people, then, to rise up against the press lords and unscrupulous politicians who are misleading us now as they misled us before. We call on the Government of the Free State to end its subservience to this powerful and noisy group, and to grant the Spanish Republic the full recognition it had before the conflict.

We demand this in the name of our comrades who have died to redeem this nation's honour, in the name of our comrades who are ready to die, and in the name of the traditions handed down by our National Fathers.


William Scott
Terence Flanagan
James Prendergast
Joseph Monks
Patrick Smith
Sean Goff
Patrick Duff
Frank Edwards
John Power
Peter O'Connor
James O'Beirne
Donal O'Reilly
Jack Nalty

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Irish Democrat 23rd October 1937

‘The Republic Stands for the Working People of Spain’

An interesting lecture was delivered on Spain last Tuesday at the Metropolitan hall, Dublin, by Pastor Robinson, who has been engaged in Missionary work there for a number of years. Since the outbreak of the war he has been in both Government and Franco territory and has travelled 350 miles along the fronts.

Pastor Robinson stated he held an impartial view of the whole situation and favoured neither side from the point of view of the war.

“But to be fair, I must say this,” he declared, “the Republic stands for the working people of Spain.”

Since its formation in 1931 the Republic had done much to alleviate the extreme misery of the people. In the sphere of education it had built 10,000 schools.

Fascist atrocities

The monarchy had ruled the people with an iron hand. It represented the autocracy, wealthy landowners and clerics.

The Republican Government was not a ‘Red’ or ‘Communist’ Government, but a coalition of Republican, Labour and Communist Ministers.

While in Franco territory he had ample evidence of the terrible extent of German, Italian and Portuguese intervention. He had been in Malaga just after it was captured by the Fascists and described the terrible scenes of butchery and mass executions he had witnessed.

“No matter which side wins,” he concluded, “the revolution of the Spaniards will continue till full democratic liberty is won for the working people.”

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Irish Democrat 30th October 1937

Frank Ryan promoted

[Small note: he was promoted to Adjutant of the 15th Brigade, with the rank of Major. Some of the Irish Unit, on the Aragon Front, are in the 15th Brigade, others serving with the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.]

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