Local press coverage of the SCW.

What I hope to present here are extracts from the coverage of and reaction to the SCW in the papers in Northern Ireland. This will include some of the main papers in NI, i.e. the Northern Whig, News Letter, etc. along with regional papers.

Belfast Weekly News

Fermanagh Herald

Northern Whig for 1936-37

Belfast Telegraph - some extracts

Irish Times - A small collection of recent letters, articles, etc. carried from 2001-2005. Includes a letter from Eugene Downing.

News Letter extracts

Home Page

BNL is the initials of the Belfast News Letter


"Caught in ‘No Mans Land’ Two Belfastmen Captured by Insurgents"

Story of Frederick A McMahon (25) of 30 Ravenhill Street, and Joseph Boyd (29) of 94 [74] Ulsterville Gardens. They had been in Spain with the Glasgow ambulance unit The Times reporter said they had got lost in no mans land when they were captured.

McMahon "was a member of the Clarion Cycling Club" said his brother.

Midgley was in touch with the organisers, the Foreign Office and the TUC to get information about them.

Editorial 13/11/36

Includes the lines" it is hard to discover much Christianity on either side"


Reports that the 2 ambulance men had been released the previous day and were in Lisbon. Says Mr. Eden mentioned them in Westminster on Wednesday. [18/11/36]

20/11/36 p7

Reports that 7 more left Cork to join O’Duffy the previous day. Included 19 year old Michael Cagney, the leader of the juvenile section of the Blueshirts in Cork. 3 weeks earlier his brother Barry Cagney had left for 5 years military training at a State Military College at the invitation of Signor Mussolini, to whom he was recommended by O’Duffy. Cagney’s father was Dr Cagney.

21/11/36, p7

Report of the release of the 2 ambulance staff.

Taken prisoner near Madrid on Sunday 8th Nov. They had believed that they were about to be executed as the fascists thought they were Russians when they cam across a wounded fascist.

McMahon is quitted as saying: "One man was bleeding to death, and Boyd promptly opened his own kit and rapidly bandaged up the wound. That deed saved our lives. The wounded man spoke English well, and told the guards that we were not Russians, but English Red Cross men."

They were held in Salamanca prison until Friday 13th when they were given the option of where to be deported, they choose Portugal as it was closer.

23/11/36, p7

40 left Liverpool, under the leadership of O’Duffy, who said "this is no time for words but actions". "The men are all in good physique, and many of them appear to be not more than 25."

25/11/36, p7

A further group of 30 West Cork men will leave today via Dublin to fight for Franco.

"In all 300 men have volunteered from West Cork for service, and it is stated drafts will leave weekly until the entire 300 have reached the front." The men will be commanded by Mr. Coughlan of Ballineen, an IRA staff officer during the troubles.


Sizeable report of a split in the Blueshirts. EJ Cronin, who succeeded O’Duffy as leader, left Cork for London yesterday [25/11/36], accompanied by Dr James Burke, a prominent Blueshirt leader, and recently on the staff of the Cork County Home [!!!!].

"I feel it my duty to offer my services to the Catholic forces in Spain. Our movement was born under the standard of anti-Communism. It is our duty to fight for that cause. I am going to Spain to fight for the old faith, and I am confident that many will follow my example."

Report finishes by stating that 30 West Cork men left for Spain today {presumably the ones mentioned on 25/11/36.

27/11/36, p7

17 more for Franco, 9 from West Cork, 3 North Cork, 5 from Cork City left last night for Franco. Inc. Mr. John Keane, a county councillor; WF McGrath, a "native of Co Tipperary who says he has been through 4 revolutions in Latin America" and Jack Lynn, a heavyweight boxer. Travelling through Dublin to Liverpool.


Sounds as if all the various groups eventually got together and 80 volunteers for O’Duffy’s "Irish Brigade" left Dublin the previous night, led by Mr. Michael Coughlin of Cork, a former Col in the Free State Army.

The Newsletter expects him to have 150 men by the end of the following week.

30/11/36, p7

The above delegation leaves Liverpool on the liner Aquila on the previous Sat. night.


The 2 ambulance men arrived home on Dec. 3rd. Received enthusiastic welcome from their families.


1,000 men sailed from Galway for O’Duffy.


50 members of O’Duffy’s Brigade failed to sail from Spain at the weekend. They were annoyed by the "You’re in the army now " attitude.

BNL says "they were referred to in terms to which they objected, and were not supplied with food. There was also some altercation regarding the pay they had been promised."

BNL states "6 of the men who embarked from Galway to fight for General Franco are from Enniskillen. Only one of these, it is understood, was employed."


report that 80 men had gone to fight for the Spanish Republic.. This decision had caused a split among Republicans, leaving Dublin without a secret military force for the first time since 1913. It states that George Gilmore condemned the delegation, while Ryan is in Spain and Michael Price "is stated to have carried with him a large body of men from the IRA and the Congress into the Irish Citizen Army."


Dr James J Keirans, Glynch House, Newsbliss, Co Monaghan is "amongst the recent departures for Spain to join the ‘Irish Brigade’ "


A letter appeared on p12 from Sir D.M.Stevenson, Chairman of the organisation supporting ambulances for Spain. In it he states:

"The remaining members are now on their way home. Complete reorganisation is contemplated, involving the addition of a qualified doctor and a few ambulance men and drivers.

I have not troubled your readers recently with an appeal for funds. The committee’s original appeal was for 10,000. Of this little over 4,000 has been subscribed so far, and as there is no appearance of the dreadful Civil War ending in the near future, financial help is urgently needed to carry on. Contributions may be sent to ‘Unit Secretary’, 5 Clevedon Road, Glasgow."

21/12/36, p7

"O'DUFFY'S BRIGADE IN FRONT LINES Nicknamed ‘Roman Catholic Moors’

Lisbon, Sunday

A column of Irish Free State volunteers, whom the Government militia have dubbed 'Roman Catholic Moors' are now en route to the front lines.

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