Information sought on Spanish Civil War

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A new book on the Irishmen who fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War will be launched in Derry on Thursday.

‘Irish Volunteers for Spain’ by John Quinn will be launched in the Tower Hotel on Thursday afternoon as part of the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Spanish Civil War.

As well as the book launch, organisers of the event have also issued a plea for information about men from Inishowen who may have fought in the war.

The conflict lasted from 1936 to 1939 and it is believed that several hundred Irish men travelled to Spain to fight with the left-wing International Brigade in defence of the Spanish republic.

It is thought that at least 240 Irish men, including many republicans, fought in Spain as members of the International Brigades. Of that number, at least 23 are known to have come from Derry, Tyrone, and Donegal.

Some of them had fought with the IRA during the War of Independence and Civil War, while others were members of various communist organisations.

Many left the north west directly to go to Spain while others left from the United States, Canada, or England.

One of the most well-known Derry men who fought in Spain was Eamonn McGrotty, who was killed in the fighting in Jarama. He was a former Christian Brother and his name is included in folk singer Christy Moore’s song about the International Brigades, ‘Viva la Quinta Brigada’ .

While the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland supported General Franco’s fascist forces during the conflict, both catholics and protestants joined together in the International Brigades.

Thursday’s book launch will also be a cross-community event, with members of the IRSP attending alongside representatives from the loyalist ex-prisoners group, EPIC.

The organisers have biographies of some of the local men who went to Spain but they are keen to find more information. They have appealed in particular for information on any of the men from Inishowen who travelled to Spain during the conflict.

“It is known that several men from Inishowen took part in the fighting but details of their lives are scant.

Several hundred Irishmen who were members of the ‘Blueshirt’ movement under the command of Eoin O’Duffy also travelled to Spain in support of General Franco but they did not take part in the fighting.

The book will be launched in the Tower Hotel, Butcher Street, Derry, at 3pm on Thursday.