letter in An Phoblacht, 6th July 2006

Bob Doyle and the Spanish Civil War

A chara,

The recent death of Michael O'Riordan, the Spanish Civil War veteran and stalwart of socialism, has sadly left only one remaining survivor from that conflict which was the precursor to World War two. Used as a dry run by the fascist forces of Europe thousands of young volunteers travelled from all over Europe and further afield to fight the fascist menace.

One of 320 Irish volunteers who fought in the conflict was Bob Doyle. Born in 1916 Bob recalls in a newly published book, a life of object poverty dominated by the clergy. This poverty-filled youth led him to embrace left wing politics leading him to join the IRA, Republican Congress and the Communist Party.

By the mid 1930's he was becoming aware of the fascist aggression in Spain aimed at overthrowing the socialist and democratically elected government so it wasn't a difficult decision for him to go to Spain.

Captured by fascist forces shortly afterwards, one of the people he was held with was Frank Ryan, a familiar face as he had been fighting with him in Dublin against the Blueshirts.

After gross mistreatment he was eventually returned to Ireland and although it pained him he felt he had no choice but to join the British army to fight the rising tide of fascism.

Bob's book, Brigadista. An Irishman's Fight against Fascism is on sale now published by Curate [sic - Curragh] Press. Written by the last surviving member of the Irish International Brigade it is an invaluable historical document.

Is mise,

Edward Ryan,

Ballina, Co Mayo.