On Friday, July 15, éirígí will host a public meeting in the Teachers Club on Parnell Square, Dublin to mark the 75th anniversary of the start of the Spanish Civil War. Many Irish radicals, socialists and republicans of the 1930s worked hard to aid the Spanish Republic from the attacks of fascists.
Some in Ireland countered the right-wing media, while others travelled to the Spanish state to fight on the frontlines. While Eoin O’Duffy, the capitalist media and the Catholic Church supported oppression and murder, this band of Irish radicals fought as part of the International Brigades to defend democracy.
Before departing for the Spanish state, Frank Ryan made the following statement: “The Irish contingent is a demonstration of revolutionary Ireland’s solidarity with the gallant Spanish workers and peasants in their fight for freedom against fascism.
“It aims to redeem Irish honour besmirched by the intervention of Irish fascism on the side of Spanish fascist rebels. It is to aid the revolutionary movements in Ireland to defeat the fascist menace at home, and finally, and not the least, to establish fraternal bonds of kinship between the Republican democracies of Ireland and Spain.”
Ryan was an activist with a vast amount of experience. He had been active in the IRA in the Tan War, the Civil War and beyond and had played other prominent roles, including as director of organisation of Fianna Éireann and as editor of An Phoblacht. After helping to found the Republican Congress, he continued to lead the way for Irish socialist republicans.
Both the Congress campaign against slum landlords and the mobilisations to counter British imperialist displays on Armistice Day each November saw him physically lead the charge against the enemies of Ireland’s working class.
The unit he led to the Spanish state were no naïve youths either. They were experienced political activists, well aware that, in order to defeat imperialism and fascism, they must be challenged physically.
Speakers on the night will include established authorities on the period Emmet O’Connor [author and lecturer] and Harry Owens [historian]. The talk will be followed by a ska/reggae/punk disco, with full bar at the same venue.