The Worker - articles on Ireland and the Spanish Civil War
January 1937 - March 1937 [ceased publication]
2nd January 1937 - Bill Scott writes from Madrid
9th January 1937 - Murphy’s Latest pick-up
9 January 1937 - Irish Column in Action for Spanish Freedom
16th January 1937 - The International Column
16th January 1937 A letter from the Front
16th January 1937- To Aid International Column
16th January 1937 - O’Duffy draws a blank
16th January 1937 - Ralph Fox
16th January 1937 - Footing O’Duffy’s Bill
January 23 1937 - From the Spanish Front
Jan. 30 1937 - We Storm a ridge: Graphic account of Irish Column in Action
30 January 1937 - Fascists leave wives destitute
30 January 1937 - How Denis Coady Fell
February 6 1937 - Frank Ryan sends news from the Front
6th February 1937 - Belfast sees ‘Defence of Madrid’
6th February 1937 - Dublin Honours Irish Defenders of Democracy
13 Feb. 1937 - “They would go to the Red Hob of Hell to fight fascism”
20th Feb. 1937 - Murphy Lies: A letter from Spain.
20 Feb. 1937 - Dublin Workers support for Spanish Republic
27 Feb. 1937 - Frank Ryan writes from Madrid Front
27 Feb. 1937 - More News from Spain
March 6 1937 - Bill Scott pays tribute to Kit Conway
6 March 1937 - Captain Kit Conway
6 March 1937 - And now the Labour Party
13 March 1937 - Good News!
2nd January 1937
Bill Scott writes from Madrid
Writing to his brother from Madrid on December 11, Comrade
Scott who has been in the front line with the International Column almost from
its inception, says that the City of Madrid is less safe than the actual
trenches, owing to the cowardly savagery of the fascists in bombing an open
“For the last few days,” writes Scott, “the Fascists have
been bombing and shelling the City. They have bombed hospitals and schools. I
wouldn’t believe it only I have seen it with my own eyes. They have killed
hundreds of children, nurses and wounded men. They have deliberately aimed at
these hospitals and schools, for they are flying low at the time. Last week
thirty planes took part in an air raid. They bombed a tenement house where thirty
families lived. You can imagine what happened.
“Our planes bomb munitions factories and aerodromes, but in
no case have they attempted to bomb the civil population in Fascist territory.
On our side we are given strict orders not to ill-treat prisoners. We have
often taken wounded Fascist prisoners to hospital.
“On the other side, prisoners are seldom taken at all. They
don’t even shoot them. They kill them with bayonets. That is what they call
Christianity. Even while I write this letter, they are shelling the district.”
Comrade Scott then asks for a copy of Peadar O’Donnell’s book, The Gates Flew
open, and other Irish literature for foreign friends of his who are keen to
learn all about the fight for freedom in Ireland.
The Fascists kept Xmas Day by a bombardment of Madrid,
killing women and children!
The Worker 9th January 1937
Murphy’s Latest pick-up
Murphy’s ‘Independent’ is in bad straits these days. After the failure of the ‘Christian Front’ it is prepared to stop at nothing. It has even sunk so low as to purchase the services of one CJ McGuinness – who calls himself a ‘Captain.’ This vagabond is well known to all political movements: he has hawked himself around amongst them all. The Republican movement knows him – particularly well indeed. The Communist movement knows him, after a stay in the Soviet Union he came hawking his slanders in the anti-Soviet market. He is known to quite a few individuals in Dublin.
He managed to slip into Spain and appears to have got the length of Madrid. He managed to get a fair swill of booze, but apparently the atmosphere for this boyo is more congenial near home. His delicate spiritual and material tastes he says were ‘shocked’ (!) at what he seen in Spain. He has become a devout ‘Champion of Religion.’ He has re-discovered his soul in the service of Murphy’s ‘Christian’ paper. What a racket!
And the ‘Independent’ is reduced to using this loathsome creature as a bludgeon against the working class movement.
This is significant!
The Worker 9 January 1937
Irish Column in Action for Spanish Freedom
The Irish Column has been in action with the Spanish Republican Army on the Cordoba Front, and has acquitted itself splendidly. Only the first Company was engaged. Other Irishmen, who were in training at Albacete, are now ready to go up to the front.
“It was the greatest attack and advance on this front,” writes Seamus Cummins, of Dublin, in a letter to a friend. “The people were touched to the heart as we left for the front, and brought is gifts of food, cigarettes, sweets, etc. It was a pitiful sight as we neared the firing line to see the peasants whose miserable shacks were threatened, trudging along the road with their belongings tied on the backs of asses, and as we marched in they greeted us with the clenched fist and the word ‘Salud!’ and we answered with ‘No Pasaran!’ (They Shall not Pass). AND WE KEPT OUR PROMISE. We fought well for these poor people.”
In another letter, Paddy Duff, of Co. Dublin, who is in the 2nd Company, writes: “We are all together here, all in the best of form, ready for the call. I cannot see anything but a defeat for Franco and his Fascist gangsters. The people are 100 per cent behind the Government, no doubt about it. I am proud to be in the Army of the Spanish Republic. The International Brigade is a working class army of the world. We have all nationalities here; it is wonderful.”
A further letter from Bill Scott describes the Fascist murders at Madrid. One of the first Irishmen to volunteer in defence of Spanish democracy, Bill Scott was at the Madrid Front, where he fought in several engagements. Here is what he says, in a letter from General Mangadi’s HQ.
“Having witnessed some of the horrifying acts of terrorism committed on the Spanish people, and the wholesale massacre of innocent women and children in Madrid, and bring your representative in Spain’s fight to preserve World Democracy. I feel I would be failing in my duty if I did not report to you a little of what I have seen, and warn you of what awaits you if Fascism is allowed to grow in Ireland.
“Two weeks ago I returned from the University City sector of the Madrid Front. ON this front six thousand trained German troops, thousands of Italian fascists and Moors, supported by German bombing planes, Italian tanks and artillery, with expert operators to use them, are in action against the defenders of the Capital. Franco, with the aid of Hitler’s and Mussolini’s modern weapons of war, having failed to break through the lines of the unconquerable defenders of Madrid, has now resorted to the use of gas, and many of our men are in hospital as a result of this new idea of the ‘Christians.'
“I was free for a few days and decided to see Madrid. Here is what I saw: On December 4, thirty low flying Fascist planes loomed over the city as if considering where to release their loads of death. Suddenly a succession of terrific explosions shook the city, and dense volumes of smoke were seen rising about a mile from the centre. I went to the scene of the raid. I saw firemen and militiamen endeavouring to rescue dying men, women and children from the burning pile, which half an hour before had been a block of tenement flats. I saw heaps of bricks and mortar mingled with human flesh and blood. I saw the mutilated bodies of children wedged between heavy beams. In the middle of the street I saw, what on examination proved to be a child’s cot containing a mangled body. People in adjoining streets, not fortunate enough to be killed outright, were blinded and shell-shocked by the explosions.
The ‘Irish Independent’ describes this carnage as a war to save Christianity. It applauds the butchers of helpless women and children, and hails their murderers as ‘patriots’. If the Irish people could but for a moment peep behind this screen of foul lies and se the awful truth of what is happening in Spain, the long and bloody record of Lombard Murphy’s Fascist press would be brought to a speedy end. The people of Spain and their democratic Government have nothing to hide; they will welcome and facilitate anyone wishing to come here and see the truth…The men and women of Spain by their splendid solidarity will clear the way for Spanish and Irish freedom from the beast of Fascism.” Bill Scott.
16th January 1937
The International Column
Patrick Keenan, a Dublin sheet metal worker, a volunteer in the Irish section of the International Column writes to friends as follows:
“This is the first time I had a chance of writing to you since I came here. I am OK at eh moment – except that I miss my favourite Irish cigarette. I cannot describe anything about the war yet except that the Government forces are advancing slowly, but I cannot see how they can be beaten. Don’t forget it, this is an international war between the financiers and landlords and the workers, and I need not tell you how important it is for use to win. I met Frank Ryan. He is doing great work here. We are fighting for a great cause and in company with men like ourselves from all nations. A Scotch friend of mine has not forgotten it is New Year’s Eve and we are going out together. Write me as soon as possible as I am anxious to get the latest news from you as we see few English papers.”
16th January 1937
To Aid International Column
A widely representative women’s meeting to organise assistance for the Irish section of the International Column in Spain was held last week in the Clarence Hotel, Dublin, Mrs. H Sheehy Skeffington, M.A., presiding/ The meeting was well-attended by active women in the Republican and working class movement, as well as by women relatives – mothers and sisters – of the men at the front. Letters from Bill Scott, Seamus Cummins, Paddy Duff and Frank Ryan were read to the meeting.
Mrs Gatty, Templemore, Tipperary, with a long experience of life in Spain before and after the revolution, spoke to the meeting and explained the real issues in the conflict:
“It is a struggle between the common people and a hateful tyranny. Religion is only an excuse used by the Fascists. I am going to Paris to a meeting of the International Aid Committee. I want the women of Ireland to help in the good work, to collect comforts for the brave lads who are risking their lives for justice.”
The meeting elected a Committee to organise the work. Gifts of cigarettes, money and warm clothing are urgently needed, and may be sent to Mrs. Woods, 133, Morehampton Road, Dublin; Mrs L O’Donnell, 176 Upper Drumcondra Road, Dublin; or to the Chairman, Mrs. Sheehy-Skeffington, 7 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin.
The Worker 16th
A letter from the Front
The following letter is from James O’Beirne, Belturbet, Co.
Cavan, to L. Johnstone, Belfast* Comrade O’Beirne is an IRA man with pre-Truce
service and is a devout Catholic. In his letter he says:
Dear Comrade Johnstone: Just a line to wish all comrades in
Belfast a happy New Year and many of them, hoping all are well. I am glad to
hear that you are getting plenty of support in Belfast for the Spanish
Government to smash Franco and the Hitlers and O’Duffys. It will be a long,
bitter struggle, but in spite of the thousands of fascists pouring into Spain
from Germany, Italy and imperialist Italy, truth will prevail. Victory or death
we stand for; Up the International.
Well, about 40 of us Irish and 100 or more of the British
comrades were in action on the southern front since the 27th
December. I came out sick two days ago (Jan. 1st). The village,
which was our objective, has been captured after weeks of heavy fighting. Two
of Franco’s aeroplanes were bombing and spitting machine-gun fire all the time,
but later on we had four to oppose them. Frank Ryan is out here; I have just
met him. Ralph Fox was with us. A great Comrade. He is now reported missing
(since this letter his death has been confirmed.) The weather is lovely here
since we came, hot as summer during the day, but cold at night.
During the day marching, seeking positions and cover, dodging Franco’s bullets and bombs from the sky. We have just captured their village and some war material, machine-guns, etc.
I saw three air raids on a village here and one town, many innocent children and people being killed by Franco’s bombs; many churches destroyed by Franco’s shells to blacken the Government. Tell Irish Catholics many priests out here support the Government. Those who love truth and justice stand up against Fascist tyranny.
I saw rain only once since I’ve come out here, nothing but grape and olive trees to be seen. It’s a great country. The people are very enthusiastic and affectionate, and are behind the Government to a man. No more news for the present, hoping to hear from you and the other Comrades.
Your fond Comrade,
[* This is probably Loftus Johnstone, a leading member of the CPI in Belfast, Ciaran Crossey]
16th January 1937 -
O’Duffy draws a blank
Five hundred men on their way to join with Franco’s Foreign Legion and Moorish troops in their war on the Spanish workers assembled at Passage East, Waterford, last week, but the expected ship did not arrive. The men went home after a bad night. They were promised 6/8d [33p] a day, but got nothing.
Thomas Crimmins, Iveagh House, Dublin, in a letter to the ‘Irish Press’ bitterly attacks O’Duffy’s officials for the fiasco on behalf of 29 of the men. Here are some points from his letter:
“I never had an experience like the Passage fiasco. Roused at 5 o’clock by the grunting of pigs with which we shared a bed of straw on a lorry…Scandalous treatment meted out to us by those in charge…No refreshments on the journey…Promised a warm meal at Passage, but nothing…. Place packed with young men, poorly clad…Bitterly cold…Nobody seemed to be in charge…The only public house in the village had been drunk dry….Some young lads - they could not have been more than 16 – collapsed from hunger and exposure….A few of us for into a lorry with pigs…We were so weary that amidst the grunting and smelly pigs we slept…The pigs woke us up.”
A boy of 16 from Cork relates similar hardships and say the only reply they got from O’Duffy’s officials was: ‘I thought you were better soldiers than that.’
O’Duffy says he was actually on his way to meet the volunteers when the news reached him that a hitch had occurred as the boa was about to depart for Ireland.
“We were convinced that Christianity, which is our faith and heritage, is being attacked on the Spanish front,” says the pious General wit his good ‘Christian’ record from the war on the Republic at home.
16th January 1937 - 16th January 1937
The sympathy of all Irish Communists and revolutionary workers will go to the Communist Party of Great Britain on the death in action with the International Column of Ralph Fox, the distinguished author, as well as to his wife. Irish workers are specially indebted to Ralph Fox for his work for the Irish movement and the assistance he was always ready to give to Irishmen in the movement. His best-known contribution is the booklet, ‘Marx-Engels-Lenin on the Irish Revolution.’ His gallant death is an inspiration to all lovers of freedom to redouble their efforts in the struggle to rid the earth of the Fascist scourge.
16th January 1937
Footing O’Duffy’s Bill
The South Cork Board of Assistance is up against footing the bill for the dependents of O’Duffy’s Fascist Brigade. ‘I suggest that these people should look after their own families first anyhow,’ said Mr M J Corry, Fianna Fail TD. ‘These people went out to fight leaving tier families a burden on the rates,’ said Councillor Buckley. ‘They should get in touch with the Chairman of the Christian Front, who sending these men out and get him to send on some money for their dependents,’ said Mr Corry.<
The Worker , January
From the Spanish Front
Writing to the Communist Party of Ireland from hospital in
Spain, Seamus Cummins says:
A line to say I am well and my wound, which I received in the
shoulder, is healing rapidly. I hope to be able to go back to the front very
soon. I have just got up out of bed for the first time since the battle.
I hope the Party is thriving and that the boys are working
hard. For Comrades, honestly, HARD WORK IS NEEDED, otherwise we in Ireland may
have to suffer the same barbarities as the Spanish people are suffering. The
cruelties perpetuated on them is awful. To hear the stories told by the plain
people themselves in pitiable.
I met young Blake; he is gone for training. I have for bed
mate John Goff, a Dublin Republican. Jack Nalty, I believe, is on his feet
again. Monks is OK. Donal O’Reilly got slight concussion. He is gone back to
the line some days now. Send me some papers, and above all THE WORKER Bulletin.
Greetings to all friends of the Cause at home.
The Worker January 30th 1937
We Storm a ridge: Graphic account of Irish Column in Action
Joe Monks, formerly of B Coy. 4th Batt. Dublin
Brigade IRA, now serving with the Irish Section of the International Column,
sends the following graphic picture of an engagement in which he took part. Joe
sends this account in a letter to his Uncle, Jimmy Donnelly, the well-known
Dublin Republican, formerly O/C, 4th Batt. Dublin Brigade, IRA:
“I’m in hospital here with an in-and-out hole through the
flesh of the chest., I got it when the Irish section and the other English
speaking company were ordered to clear up an enemy position which was holding
up our left flank. We were brought to the front in lorries.
“I was among those to reach the line in the first lorry. We
lay down in a field awaiting the rest of the company. An airplane saw us and
down it swooped, giving us a rattle of machine gun fire. To tell the truth I
buried my face into the air and waited for the bang, but it passed on without
harming us. Our Captain called us out on the road; there we met the rest,
beginning the advance. I was meeting my pals with a grin, but I lost if quickly
when young Fox told me that the ‘plane had killed Negal, a Londoner, who had
“However, the advance went on up a sand road. Then the
machine guns opened up and we continued through an olive grove. A French Unit
was holding a position in front of us. We were swinging to the left, leaving
the olive grove, and began to clink a bare ridge. There was a bomber overhead.
It was not dropping bombs; it was directing the enemy machine guns, and they
were giving us the works. We passed over the ridge in short rushes and up the
next one. It was then we sighted the enemy advancing. Our fire was opened up
and we drove the enemy off the ridge. We then gained it and poured our fire
into a villa which was the enemy’s key position. It was here that I got hit. An
English lad and a chap from Glasgow brought me to a dressing station; from there a Frenchman brought me to the road where I was picked up by an ambulance.
“In the hospital we were treated like lords. We get all
sorts of good things; during visiting hours the whole town passes through the
wards, and the poor people give us everything they have. My pals and I are
thinking of starting a fruit shop we have got so much. Of course there are
orange trees growing along the street.
“You remember Seamus Cummins? He is here with an in-and-out
wound in the back; young Fox also got a wound. Along with Michael May, who is
also out there, all three of us went to James’s Street school.
“All over Spain and Southern France, the people give you the
Red Front salute, and the kiddies sing the Internationale as they play in the
streets. It was played as we marched through Barcelona, with Frank Ryan
carrying our banner.
“We have great artillery, French 75 guns. The Government
representative in this town can speak English; he had invited me to stay and
take a job when the war is over.
“I hope all of you are ‘game-ball.’”
January 1937 The Worker
Fascists leave wives destitute
The Cork Board of Assistance was again confronted last
Monday with the problem of providing relief for the wives and families of
O’Duffy’s Brigadiers. The Board instructed the Secretary to write to the
Christian Front about it. Councillor Buckley divulged that O’Duffy’s men were
promised by Franco plenty when and if he got to Madrid. ‘I think it is a
confounded shame that these people should have left their families destitute.
It would be more Christian if these men stayed and looked after their wives and
families.’ ‘Let the Christian Front, who took them to Spain, look after them,’
said Mr Corry, TD. [member of the Irish Parliament.] perhaps Lombard Murphy and
his ‘Christian Front’ might pay some attention to these sound remarks by Mr
30th January 1937 The Worker
How Denis Coady Fell
It is with deep regret we record the death of Denis Coady,
who fell fighting with the Irish section of the International Column in Spain.
Denis Coady was well-known in the Republican and left-wing Labour movement in
Dublin. Below are some points from a letter from his Comrade, Frank Edwards.
Denis Coady fell under the Fascist bullets. His gallant
death must spur every lover of liberty in Ireland to greater effort in the
struggle against Fascism and for support for the International Column.
To the family of this brave man the sympathy of every reader
of The Worker go out.
In his letter, Frank Edwards says: (Dated 16.1.1937)
“We were lying in position on a ridge. Dinny Coady lay near
me with another Irishman, Pat Murphy, between us. A shell landed between Coady
and Murphy. I immediately felt a sharp pain in my side. Murphy screamed. I
glanced towards him, He was enveloped in a cloud of smoke and dust. But I could
see his face – he was ghastly pale. I got up and walked down to a ravine where
our Company Headquarters section was posted, and told them to send up a
stretcher at once. I thought Murphy had been badly hit. Then I got a Red Cross
man to rip my clothes off. I had a very deep wound under my left armpit, and a
slight scratch on my leg.
“While I was being dressed the stretcher-bearers came back
with a body. Someone pulled back the blanket, and I saw his face. It was Dinny
Coady. I got a hell of shock – perhaps because I had known him longer than any
of the other lads.
“I was carried on a stretcher across four miles of open
country under shellfire. Every jolt of the stretcher was hell. Four men carried
me – a Swiss, a German, an Englishman and an Irishman.
“The hospital was crowded. Everybody bustling about and
talking different languages. Naturally they could not deal with each case
immediately on arrival. I was left lying on a blanket in a corridor. I was
later put on a stretcher. I lay there for some time; I was getting weaker. The
blood was pouring out of my side. At last a doctor came. He spoke English and I
found out that it was an English ambulance Unit. I was very glad. He realised I
was an urgent case and I was taken into the operating room at once. The fixed
dressing had come off and the shrapnel had burst an artery. Then doctor soon
removed the shrapnel and stitched me up
“Now I’m doing fine – temperature normal, normal diet, etc.
I’m still very weak, of course, and must lie on my back all the time. But I’m
getting the best of treatment – the doctor in charge is a London Specialist.
Our matron was a matron in the Great War, and has spent ten years in Suliman
Islands doing Leper work. She is Miss Wilson, a Catholic Scotswoman, known as
the Leper Saint’ of the Cyprus.”
The Worker February 6th 1937
Frank Ryan sends news from the Front
Frank Ryan, writing to his colleagues in Dublin, from
Madrid, dated 21st January, says: The military training of our lads
has been turned to good account. Our Section is one of the mainstays of the
Company. They were rushed off to the Cordova Front on Xmas Eve. They were in
action from December 26th till about January 8th. On the
Madrid sector of the front they captured a village, with a battery of
artillery, the fascists retreating. In this action they took and to sent to GHQ
prisoners and also some machine guns. Here on the Madrid front there was really
brilliant fighting. Our fellows were in supports when they came under heavy
fire and accurate shelling. It was here Frank Edwards got wounded. Others
Donal O’Reilly, J Hillen, J J O’Beirne, J Monks, T Woods,
Jerry Doran, Sean Goff, Seamus Cummins, P Smith and Pat Murphy. All were
slightly wounded and are progressing favourably.
The same shell that wounded Edwards killed Denis Coady. We
buried him in Torredodenes, and his comrades, under Kit Ryan, fired three
volleys over his grave. A true man and a fine soldier. J Meehan of Galway and W
Beattie of Belfast were killed in the fighting on the Cordova front.
Jack Nalty was wounded on the Cordova front by a burst of
machine gun fire in the chest; he walked three miles to the dressing station.
He is in hospital in Albacete, doing well. His absence is a great loss to the
crowd. Mick May did great work one black day in Andalusia covering off his
comrades as they went back under shell and machine-gun fire. Frank Conroy
fought like a hero the same day.
The morale of the lads is very high now. Their repulse in
Andalusia is forgotten in their victories near Madrid.
To all my friends on the anti-fascist home front I send
Frank Ryan’s letter must inspire every Irishman and woman
worthy of the name to redouble their work in the cause of the Irish Section of
the International Column. We must annihilate the Fascist plague HERE. Press on
the trade union and Labour organisations to come into the anti-Fascist
struggle. Build the united Republican-worker front, and above all, send
donations of money, clothing, cigarettes, etc. to the chairman, Irish friends
of the Spanish Republic, Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington, at 7, Belgrave Road,
6th February 1937
Belfast sees ‘Defence of Madrid’
Belfast workers last week had an opportunity to see the first authentic pictures of the war in Spain when the local FSU [Friends of the Soviet Union] showed ‘Defence of Madrid’ and the Russian film, ‘General Line.’ So enthusiastic were the large audience by the heroism of the people of Spain that a collection of £25 was taken in a few minutes for the Spanish Medical Aid and the Irish Column of the International Brigade.
6th February 1937
Dublin Honours Irish Defenders of Democracy
The revolutionary workers of Dublin demonstrated their solidarity with their Comrades in the International Brigade, under Frank Ryan, at a great mass meeting held last Friday night, 19th February. A huge banner bearing the names of Denis Coady, Frank Conroy, James Meehan and Daniel Boyle was displayed with the inscription: “We salute the memory of these Irish Defenders of Democracy killed fighting on the Spanish Front.” Rousing speeches were delivered by P Byrne (Chairman) Republican Congress, Peter Ledwith, Tenants League, Dr. Owen Sheehy-Skeffington, Sean Murray, Communist Party, and Dr. Catherine Lynch, of the Friends of the Spanish Republic. A collection of £5 was made in aid of the Irish Section of the International Column in Spain.
The Worker 13th Feb. 1937
“They would go to the Red Hob of Hell to fight fascism”
(This week we give extracts from another letter, written to
his aunt, Mrs Mary Donnelly, the well-known Republican writer, from Joe Monks,
late of the Dublin Brigade, IRA, and a member of the Republican Congress. Now
with the Irish column in Spain, he writes from the Hospital de Sangro,
Oritucea, where he is recovering from a bullet wound.)
“When I was in hospital at Linares members of the Student
Association came every day to see the wounded, and, making the best of my bit
of Latin, I became very friendly with them and when I was able to move around
they brought me to their hoes where we spent the afternoon sitting around a
brazier of charcoal and talking the best we could. They made it clear to me
that they were not anti-God, but as they say in Spanish ‘anti-Fascist y
Anti-Curia.’ Most of them proclaim themselves Catholics and expect to be able
to practice their religion when the wear is over. They all seemed pleased that
the old oppression is smashed; even the nuns in the hospital showed no malice
“Franco is doing his damndest to break down the resistance
of the people, but he can’t succeed. Up to now the odds were all on his side;
his airplanes ruled the air and all the modern war weapons of Germany and Italy
were mowing down the legions of the Militia, but the courage of the Spanish and
the wonderful role of the International Brigade held up his progress until the
workers had time to shape themselves into soldiers.
“There is one thing I want to tell you, that is if the IRA
and Fianna Fail follow the policy of Pontius Pilate and give fascism a chance
to make a bid for power in Ireland, if even a hundred men raise the flag of the
people and if they defend the remotest mountain for a length of time, the
Column will rush to their assistance.
“Perhaps it is because I am a member of the Column that I
think such a lot about it, but you will know that my description of it is not
just a boast. In the short time I have been in Spain, I have made many friends
and met many great men. I will do my best to give you an impression of life in
Spain at present. In every town behind the Government lines there are thousands
of men in the uniform of the Republic and among them stride the wounded of the
brigade, admired by all.
“The brigade is truly international. You find men from the
four corners of the earth, but the French are the best. Nobody equals them on
their advance. Germans hold the line well. The Germans are fugitives from
Hitler’s terror and are fighting for a refuge to live in, while the French will
return to their own country. In the stores in the Red Cross and in the front
lines the French are in the majority. Their .75’s are the best guns for the
kind of war and they are always used to great effect.
“As yet I have not witnessed any member of the Brigade break
any of the laws of the community. There is no doubt that the cream of the
world’s working class is in Spain; they would go to the red hob of hell to
“I may have mentioned that the French machine gunners under
Captain Alexandra made a great name for themselves in the action in which I
took part in. Did you know Ralph Fox, the English author? He was killed in the
same fight that morning. He had explained the position of the enemy and the
nature of the ground to me as we sat on the side of the road waiting to move
“After we have won in Spain, we will come back to Ireland.”
Murphy Lies: A letter from Spain.
This week we are able to print another letter from a member
of the gallant Irish Column fighting for freedom in Spain. Breathing the very
spirit of these young Irishmen, the letter is written by Padraig de Stannligh
to his father, Padraig, an ex-IRA man and Gaelic League, was not a member of
any political party when he volunteered for Spain. Here is his letter:
“I came here to fight not only for the Spanish people but
for the workers of the world against Fascism, not forgetting O’Duffy and his
crowd. If the fascists by any miracle win it would mean first the death knell
of democracy throughout the world and the finish of Irish nationalism. That’s
why I came over here, because I understood this from the very beginning. In a
few month’s time we shall be writing Robert Emmet’s epitaph: ‘When my country
takes its rightful place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then
let my epitaph be written.’ (Emmet) If James Connolly was alive today and saw
what was going on throughout the world, especially in Spain, what would he do?
He’d unite all those good Irish fighters, all of them, and he’d shove the
fascists into the sea wherever he found them. We’ll do that. And if any of them
wash ashore in Dublin Bay let them [know] that no murderers of women and
children have a place in the fair land of Eirinn.
The morale of the people here, even to the smallest children, is of the highest. The people smile and
welcome you, greet us as their deliverer, and even cry about you when you
leave. That is not the way they treat the fascists, and that’s why Franco and
his cutthroats will never conquer Spain, nor O’Duffy Ireland. You read in the
‘Irish Independent’ what the Spanish Government is supposed to be doing. But
what about Franco and his German and Italian hired assassins and conscripted
‘volunteers’, who are afraid to meet soldiers in the field and sneak behind the
lines in their aeroplanes, killing women and children, innocent all of them.
This I have seen with my own eyes. We can’t lose, we won’t lose, and when your
Pattie comes marching home again he’ll have stories to tell that will put the
lie to the things that have been told to the people at home by papers owned by
Irish capitalists, fascist liars.”
The Worker 20th Feb. 1937
Dublin Workers support for Spanish Republic
The Teacher’s Hall, Dublin, was packed last Friday night to
hear a report from Mrs Gillet-Gatty, a member of the International committee to
Aid Spain, recently returned from Valencia. Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington, MA,
chairman of the Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic, presided, and the
speakers included Peadar O’Donnell (Republican Congress), Dr C Lynch, and Sean
Murray (Communist Party).
A stirring message was sent by the meeting to Frank Ryan and
the Irish Section of the International Column. Tremendous enthusiasm marked the
meeting and the appeal of Sean Murray for the building of an Irish united front
of the Republican, Communist and labour forces against Fascism.
The meeting stood in silence in honour of the Comrades who
have given their lives in defence of the democratic fight against fascism in
Spain. A collection of over 310 was taken.
Mrs Sheehy-Skeffington (7 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin)
earnestly appeals to all readers of THE WORKER to pour in donations of parcels
and money for the men of the Irish Section. Have you responded?
The Worker 27th Feb. 1937
Frank Ryan writes from Madrid Front
“Our 50,000 who died in the Great War were sacrificed
uselessly; no life given here is given in vain.” So writes Commandant Frank
Ryan, O/C of the Irish Column of the International brigade now assisting the
Spanish people in their fight against international Fascism. Writing from the
Madrid Front Commandant Ryan says:
“I read in the ’Irish Press’ that ‘the Wild Geese have flown
again’; I read in the ‘Irish Echo’, New York, of the ‘tragedy’ of men like me
coming out here. The type of canned nationalism that inspires such talk if THE
tragedy I deplore. They ignore the changes in world politics; they would have
us ignore the great Danger until it is on our shores. ‘We will serve Ireland
only,’ they cry, but they would have us wait until it would be too late to make
effective use of our service. Catalonia recognises that it must not wait until
Franco reaches its borders. Is Ireland to commit the error Catalonia avoids?
“Is the ‘Irish Press’ comparing the Wild Geese to O’Duffy’s
hirelings? The Wild Geese were honest-minded men who went to fight against
their country’s enemy. (Incidentally, their fate should have forever killed the
slogan: ‘England’s enemy is Ireland’s friend.’) Honour to those who died for
the freedom of the Irish people; honour even greater to those who die here for
the freedom of ALL HUMANITY. No ‘Wild Geese’ were these lads. You remember how
I warned them, before they left home, what their life here – as long as it
would last – would be like. You remember how I discouraged every suspicion of
adventurism. You know how they could have stayed at home and be regarded by
their friends as ‘soldiers of Ireland.’ They chose to come here asking neither
for pay nor preferment, coming because they believed it was their duty to come
to participate in this decisive fight against Fascism. And, for my part, while it would be wrong to accuse me of bringing them here, I would never regret having done so. Our 50,000 who died in the Great War were sacrificed uselessly; no, life given here is given in vain.
“And look at it from the purely selfish viewpoint. Which is
better: That some of us should die here, or that thousands should die at home?
For if Fascism triumphs here, Ireland’s trial will soon be at hand.”
Commandant Ryan sends good news that Volunteer William
Beattie of Belfast, whom his sister is mourning as dead, is in hospital
recovering from wounds. The report of his death is inaccurate. Frank Edwards
and Jack Nalty are also reported to be progressing favourably.
We have received a copy of ‘Politika’, the Madrid Republican
paper, which prints a picture of Frank Ryan in uniform and a front-page article
headed: ‘The Honour of Ireland is Redeemed: Interview with El Commandante
The Worker, 27th
More News from Spain
Kit Conway, well known to Dublin Building workers and
Republicans, writes a letter to Sean Murray from Albacete, where he is at
present stationed, after being in very heavy fighting on the Cordova front; in
his letter he says:
“We are after having a good baptism in the Spanish War and
we are waiting for the next call. The full story of what the first English
speaking battalion, of which we are a Section, cannot yet be told; but when it
is told it will be a powerful story of great deeds done again at great odds. A
day or two ago I heard that a certain little town had been captured by our
Republican forces, and I started to remember the days we spent near it at Xmas
and the good men we lost there.
”There was one mistake in the list of causalities Frank sent you from Madrid. W
Beattie of Belfast is not dead, only wounded, and is getting along favourably.
Between dead and missing our Irish Section lost six. Our news of Jack Nalty is
that he is on the mend; so is Frank Edwards. I would pay a special tribute to
Nalty and Edwards; Frank says he told you about them. Gerry Doran, I am told, is
progressing nicely. All the others are almost completely recovered. I must say
I never soldiered with a better crowd of lads than the young IRA chaps.
“Bill Scott is coming down to us as soon as he can. Now that
Nalty is out of action, Bill will be a great help.
“Letters often wander around the world before they reach us,
but all the same folk should write to us the news and send us news-cuttings. We
were delighted to read in your letter – which only came now – that things are
bucking up at home. But your promised letter and weekly news has not arrived.
The attached address should find all of us, except the lads who are with the
Americans and whom we expect to have with us soon. Although I don’t write much
be assured that we are all as full of spirit as ever. As the Spanish newspaper,
‘Politika’, which I am enclosing, says. We have redeemed the honour of Ireland
that O’Duffy tarnished. We’ll dine in Seville this Summer, or what’s left of us
will. I’m sure of that. All the best to our pals at home and thanks to all who
are rallying to our support.”
At the foot of Comrade Conway’s letter, Jim Prendergast,
Dublin, adds a note to say: “I’m still alive, Sean.” Paddy Duff, of Co. Dublin,
also adds a Note saying: “All right, hope to see you soon.” Comrade Conway’s
letter concludes with: “Greetings to the Irish Working Class from the first
English Speaking Battalion of Irish and English workers, who showed British
Imperialism how well we fight against the Common Enemy. Ralph Campion,
Political Commissar; J W Cunningham, Coy. Commander; Christie Conway, 2nd Lieutenant.”
The Worker, March 6th
Bill Scott pays tribute to Kit Conway
The following letter from Bill Scott, written immediately
after Captain Kit Conway, of the Irish Column in Spain, was killed in action,
should be an inspiration to every Irish worker and anti-Fascist. He writes to
”I am writing this letter in a hurry and under sad circumstances. Kit’s name
has been added to the Roll of Honour. With him fell on the Southern Front of
Madrid were Mick Nolan and Coy. Adjt., Paddy McDaid, veteran of the Four Courts
in 1922. Frank Ryan and Jim Prendergast were wounded in the same engagement.
Frank is doing well. I was with him all night on Thursday and saw him away on
Friday morning. Sean, you know what Kit was to me. You, at least, will
understand how I feel now. I can hardly write this letter. But Kit has gone on
before us. He made many silent sacrifices in the cause of the poor and
oppressed of our country; in the end he gave his life. He could give no more
than that. Kit was a great soldier, and a lover of justice. Though his familiar
smile will never again comfort us in our struggles, his memory must inspire us.
To turn back now would be treachery to Kit. Over Kit’s grave, and over the
graves of all our comrades, we swear: ‘They Shall not Pass!’
“Frank’s spirit is unbreakable. When I asked: ‘Is it true,
Frank?’ he did not speak, but the look on his face said ‘yes, it is true.’
The Worker, 6th
Captain Kit Conway
Captain Kit Conway has fallen. A fascist bullet has robed
this country of a great Irishman, a gallant soldier of liberty, a fighter for
democracy and freedom against Fascist tyranny. It has
Deprived the building trade workers, the labourers
especially, of a doughty warrior for trade union rights. The Irish Transport
Workers’ Union has lost a devoted member and the Irish Communist Party one if
its men of promise. But our gallant Comrade has not die din vain. His life of
sacrifice and struggle for his country and class, his death on the battlefield
facing the mercenaries of Franco and O’Duffy Fascists will call forth hundreds
of men to fill his place.
With Comrade Conway fell another Dublin worker, Mick Nolan,
a devoted adherent of the republican and working class movement.
To honour these gallant men it is necessary for each and all
to take up their posts in the fight against Fascism here in Ireland. Spread the
truth about Spain. Expose the Fascist liars here. Demand in your organisations
that the Labour and Fianna Fail parties come out openly on the side of
democracy against the Fascist ramp. Protest against the use of religion to
cover the murderous faces and weapons of the Fascist movements. Thus will Kit
Conway and his gallant Comrades be avenged.
Are you helping the Irish Section of the International
Brigade? Send monies and gifts to Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington, 7 Belgrave Road,
The Worker, 6th March 1937
And now the Labour Party
It is with feeling of disgust that one turns from the
actions of men like Kit Conway, Frank Ryan and Bill Scott to those of Messrs.
Norton and Duffy of the Irish Labour Party. While Irish Trade Unionists,
Communists, and Republicans are shedding their blood in defence of the
principles of Labour, the leaders of the Irish Labour Party are crawling on
their hands and knees before the campaign of Lombard Murphy’s papers and their
‘Christian’ Front. While Kit Conway was facing Fascism in battle, Norton was
writing to Rome to prove he is free from the taint of Communism, and slandering
the Communist Party at the same time. It never occurred to the shivering dead souls
at the Labour Party headquarters to trust to a campaign among the Irish workers
against Murphy’s fascists press drive! It never occurred to these runaways to
turn on the enemy and risk battle. No, they try to save their skins and their
comfortable posts not by standing by their principles of Labour, but by
attacking the Communist Party. But Murphy’s bloodhounds will give them no rest;
no matter how cringing and cowardly they are. In face of the service to the
working class of the Communist Party and the sacrifices it is making in the
fight against fascism, it is the duty of every self-respecting worker to raise
his voice against the ghastly conduct of the [Labour Party. This line is
unreadable in the copy I’d access to.]
The Worker, 13th March 1937
Frank Ryan, leader of the Irish Section of the International
Brigade, and Bill Scott, are on their way home on leave. Our readers will soon
have an opportunity of hearing a first hand account of the fighting in Spain
and the real issues of the conflict from men who by their records in Ireland as
well as in Spain, can be trusted to tell the truth. Till we see them!
13th March 1937
A violent partisan ‘defends’ Franco’s Crimes
Father Ramon Laborda, the Basque priest, has described Cardinal Goma, Archbishop of Toledo, as a ‘violent partisan’ of Franco. In fact, it is known that the Cardinal had more than a finger in the generals-landlords-foreign Fascists conspiracy which started what he openly admits is a ‘counter-revolution’. So we are not surprised when the Cardinal’s Lenten Pastoral reads like the Irish bishops’ Pastorals during our own Civil War. Here are some gems from it, quoted from the ‘Irish Independent:’
“At the time of the conquest of Abyssinia, A WORK OF CIVILISATION, the League of Nations against the conqueror…They stressed the providential aspect and the expiatory value of was, of their war…If the war was not a castigation for their crimes, it might well be…Let them not think so much of moral sins as of political ones… The bitterest sorrow which came from knowing that outside Spain the names and action of those who fought to save them were despised.. Let them pray for the war…Disliked and unknown in these days, and because of that discredited in the eyes of the world, we are yet able to get strength from what we are doing.”
Even Paddy Belton could [not] do better than that in Franco’s defence, not to speak of Mussolini’s!
13th March 1937
Truth of Spain banned from Queen’s
Peadar O’Donnell was to have lectured to the Literary and Scientific Society, Queen’s University, Belfast, on Monday night. The Student’s Representative Council banned the lecture and locked the hall. Originally the lecture was to have been given by Mr J McGovern, MP. Apparently the Council didn’t object to him, it didn’t object to Mr T Henderson, MP, on another subject a fortnight before, and it didn’t object to pro-Fascist Dr W Starkie, of TCD, on the following night. But the students couldn’t be allowed to listen to a leading Republican who is also one of Ireland’s most distinguished literary men. The ban on free speech in Queen’s is all the more scandalous because this is the first time the University has taken such a step. Indignant students have resigned from the Council in protest, and the last has not been heard about the matter.
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