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“No Pasaran, the pledge that made them fight” February 26, 2017

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.


Key to photo- Back left standing: Val Moran (American) Archie Dewar (Scotland) Peter Daly, Frank Ryan, Paddy O’Daire, Jock MacCrae (Scotland) Jack Nalty, Arthur Ollerenshaw (Eng) Frank Edwards. Front row left: Nathan Tobias (England) Joe Monks, Jimmy Prendergast, Fred Warbrick (England) and Albert Neville (England), Peter Daly (hat cocked) from Wexford , killed in action , as was Jack Nalty from East Wall

Many thanks to JM of East Wall History Group for this timely post.

On this weekend 80 years ago (the 24th February 1937) , the Irish Free State passed into law the “SPANISH CIVIL WAR (NON-INTERVENTION) ACT, 1937”.


Among the sections legislated for were –

Prohibition of service in the military forces of a belligerent.
Restriction on the departure of citizens to Spain.
Restriction on the departure to Spain of nationals of certain countries.
Restriction on the departure of other persons to Spain.
Restriction on sale of travel tickets for Spain.
Power of Executive Council to prevent export of war material.
Arrest and punishment.

The act made it unlawful ‘for any person who is a citizen of Saorstát Eireann and is not, at the passing of this Act, a member of the military forces of a belligerent to accept or to obtain or attempt to obtain any commission or engagement in or otherwise to join or become a member of or attempt to join or become a member of the military forces of a belligerent’, or ‘to induce or attempt to induce persons generally or any particular person to serve in or accept any commission or engagement in the military forces of a belligerent’ or for ‘ any person to organise, aid, or abet the departure from Saorstát Eireann of persons departing from Saorstát Eireann for the purpose of serving in the military forces of a belligerent’.

Penalties for breaching the Act were a fine of up to £500 and/or two years imprisonment.

This Non Intervention was in line with the stated policy of the major European powers – though in effect it meant that Great Britain and France obstructed support for Republican Spain while ignoring the very significant direct German and Italian military involvement on behalf of the fascist forces . For the Irish Government, the real aim was to prevent volunteers travelling to support either side in the conflict.

At the time of the passing of the Act, hundreds of Irishmen were already involved with both sets of ‘beligerants’. Within a few months however, those who had travelled to support the Fascist forces (led by Blueshirt Eoin O’Duffy) would return to Ireland, under a very dark cloud. Their most significant engagement was actually against fellow Fascist’s, they showed blatant cowardice, disobeyed orders and were considered unreliable and unwelcome by Franco’s forces.

They were subsequently discharged and sent home.

On the other hand, the Republican and Socialist activists would show much greater courage and determination. The Irishmen who joined the International Brigades would remain in action almost until the war ended. Further anti-fascist volunteers would continue to travel to Spain, and some who were wounded in action and sent home would travel back into combat when recovered. This included the legendary Republican Frank Ryan who would be captured by Italian Fascists and the Dublin volunteer, Jack Nalty, who would be among the very last International Brigadiers to die in Combat in September of 1938.




1. Gerry Callaghan - February 26, 2017

Ghosts of the Republic

On the Camino, in the monastery of St Juan Ortega, Christie, an American pelgrina, asked about the civil war memorial in the Montes de Oca that she had passed earlier in the day.

Christie was in her 60’s and wearing a tee-shirt that proudly proclaimed “Harvard HR class of 1971, the worst class ever! (Harvard president)”.

She wondered about the strange inscription on the memorial, “No fue inútil su muerte, fue inútil su fusilamiento” “Their deaths were not in vain, only their executions by firing squads”. It also had suffered one of its regular graffiti attacks, the Spanish republican flag being over painted with the flag of Spain.

I don’t speak Spanish well enough or know enough about the politics of ‘la Transition’ to make sense of the inscription but suddenly I found myself telling the story of Irish involvement in the Spanish civil war. And, in particular, the strange story of Michael Lehane, a brigadista from Kerry.

Lehane was working as a builder in Dublin in 1936 when he joined the Connolly column, the Irish unit of the International Brigades, led by Frank Ryan. He was in the battle of the Cordoba front and later in the Battle of Las Rozas de Madrid.

Back in Ireland in 1937 he worked until the builders strike in April shut down all the building sites in Dublin. Then he re-volunteered, evaded British and French authorities and crossed the Pyrenees again to take part in the battle of Brunette.
He was badly wounded, saved by an American medical team and returned to Ireland about September 1937.

After recovering he worked on building the Adelphi cinema in Dublin in 1938 and then, incredibly, returned to Spain for the third time.
He participated in the last great Republican offensive, the crossing of the Ebro, and was badly wounded again. Lehane was finally evacuated from Spain in December 1938 in the withdrawal of the International Brigades. He was among the first to arrive and the last to leave of the Irish brigadistias.

When he recovered, he emigrated to his brother in Birmingham and returned to building work.

During the war he had a serious problem. Lehane knew that the Nazis had to be stopped and that the only way to stop them was with the blood and sweat of people like him. However his Irish republican principles made it impossible to put on a British uniform.
He came up with a remarkable solution; he joined the Norwegian Merchant Marine in exile. When the Germans occupied Norway the Quisling government ordered the merchant marine, 90% of whom were outside Norwegian waters, to sail for German or neutral ports. No ship complied and they went on to become a very important part of the allied war effort.

Lehane became a stoker on the “Brant County” and worked on the Atlantic convoy runs. On the 10th March 1943 it was torpedoed in mid-Atlantic. Lehane probably died in the terrible way stokers died, burned to death by superheated steam from the breached boilers.

Liked by 1 person

2. rebelbreeze - February 26, 2017

Great story, the general one and Lehane’s, grma. OK to reblog both separately with due credits?


3. Gerry Callaghan - February 26, 2017

Of course, though I can’t take any credit for the Lehane research. That’s taken from Manus O Riordan’s article on http://irelandscw.com/ibvol-Lehane.htm


4. Lightly tap the muffled drum: the stories of Belfast-born Vol. Jack Edwards, killed Kilkenny prison 1922, and his family | The Treason Felony Blog - March 1, 2019

[…] Frank Edwards in Spain with the International Brigade (last man on the right, back row). Peter Daly (from Monageer in Wexford and later killed in action) is third from left in the back row, with Frank Ryan to his left. The man in white shirt at the back (two to the right of Edwards) is Jack Nalty who was also killed in action (for more on the photo see CLR here). […]


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