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From the Shannon to the Ebro, the story of the Limerick men who fought Franco in the Spanish Civil War. September 5, 2014

Posted by guestposter in Irish Politics, The Left.



Many thanks to the person who forwarded these details.

As part of its upcoming Commemoration weekend (12th –14th September), The Limerick International Brigade Memorial Trust (LIBMT) is launching a book entitled From the Shannon to the Ebro, the story of the Limerick men who fought Franco in the Spanish Civil War.

The book, which consists of a series of illuminating and interesting articles, provides an insight into the lives and times of the Limerick men who fought with Republican Spain in their civil war. The contributors include some of the most eminent and authoritative writers on the subject such as Richard Baxell, David Convery, Manus O’Riordan and Alan Warren, all of whom will be in Limerick for the Commemorative weekend.

The lives and the roles played by the Limerick men in Spain are explored in detail and there is a powerful essay by Manus O’Riordan in which he confronts the charges levelled against Frank Ryan as a consequence of his sojourn in Germany during the 2nd World War. Also included in the book are articles and essays on the prevailing mood and attitudes of 1930s Limerick including an analysis on how the media treated the subject matter, and the role of Limerick Corporation is also explored. There is a provocative article by Dr. Ruan O Donnell asking if, perhaps, Ireland had exported its own civil war to Spain?

As well as chronicling the lives of the individual Limerick men, the book contains a rich variety of Limerick-connected stories relating to the period. An essay by Jane Bernal on her mother, Margot Heinemann, should be of particular interest to social and political historians of the period. Jane Bernal is the daughter of JD Bernal Scientist and social activist after whom the UL based Professorial Chairs are named. She writes lovingly and insightfully of her remarkable mother and her relationship with JD Bernal and John Cornford, the eminent poet who tragically died fighting for democracy in Spain. There is also an article by Melody Buckley on the “The Curious Story of George Nathan” who played a significant role with the International Brigades in Spain but is remembered in Limerick for his purported involvement in the murders of the Mayors of Limerick in 1921.

The book should have a varied appeal as there is a very interesting article by Pamela Cahill on Kate O ‘Brien’s Farewell Spain and her unique insights into Civil War Spain. Michelle O Donnell has written on Spain’s Civil War legacy and there is also an award-winning essay by secondary school pupil Muireann Hickey from Coláiste Ide agus Iosef, Abbeyfeale.

The book will be launched on Friday 12th September at 7.30 pm at the Mechanics’ Institute, Upper Hartstonge Street Limerick. It is on sale for €10 and all proceeds are in aid of the efforts of LIBMT’s Commemoration weekend. This launch is part of the cultural festival ‘Even the Olives were Bleeding’ which is a ‘Made in Limerick’ event for City of Culture.


1. roddy - September 5, 2014

What line does O’Riordan take on Frank Ryan’s sojourn in Germany?


Ciarán - September 5, 2014

Here’s his review of Fearghal McGarry’s Frank Ryan:

“Frank Ryan in Germany was neither the anti-fascist conspirator and martyr of Socialist Republican iconography nor the collaborator with the Nazis portrayed by McGarry. Even Haller’s British intelligence interrogator at one point observed of Ryan: “Regarding himself as an Irish patriot and not a creature of the Germans, he refused to associate himself in any way with Hartmann’s Irish broadcasts”.

“Patriot” might well indeed have been the appropriate chapter heading to have used in respect of the final four years of Ryan’s life. Patriotism can, of course, also be the last refuge of the scoundrel. But Ryan was no scoundrel. Undoubtedly he fails to pass the Stalinist test of unconditional loyalty to the interests of the Soviet Union, as he also fails to pass the Churchillian test of loyalty to the British Empire. He would have been a prime candidate for a show trial under either regime. But perhaps an admittedly more insular standard of patriotism will allow us to acknowledge the integrity of the role he played.”


2. roddy - September 5, 2014

In recent years I came across a TV series on one of the “freeview” channels we get up here .It was entitled “collaborators of WW2 and dealt with the likes of Quisling (etc) .However one eposide was listed as dealing with Frank Ryan.I declined to watch it as no doubt it would have been a hatchet job for a British audience and would take no account of the complicated circumstances Ryan found himself in.


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