International Brigadiers

and other anti-fascists of Irish origin

updated 25th May 2004

There is an interesting piece by a Belfast researcher which details Belfast people who went out for both sides, see the Quinn article.

Return to contents

Key to the sources of the list

Anti-fascists of Irish origin

There are, to put it mildly, some differences on who would make a list of the Irish involved with the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War. There are problems over memory and problems with the records. The real difficulty is who or what is an Irish person! Although not being a football fan, this site originally used the principle of the Irish and Northern Irish football teams. In other words; those born in Ireland, or of Irish parents/grandparents, no matter where the individual themselves were born. BUT on further consideration we've tightened this up.  People listed here were if they were born here or had Irish parents.

So I have included Irish-Americans, Irish born in England, etc. Having said this, there are probably still errors in this list, but please contact me with corrections.

O'Riordan in his book listed 145 people; this list now exceeds 240. Ciaran 25th May 2004

E-mail me, Ciaran Crossey at:, with any corrections, information, etc.

Robert A. Stradling compiled a list for his book, The Irish and the Spanish Civil War 1936-1939. Published by Mandolin, an imprint of Manchester University Press, and 1999. ISBN 1901341135, cost 10.95

Additional people have been added by checking the list of Feargal McGarry, in Irish Politics and the Spanish Civil War, ISBN 1859182402, Cork University Press, 1999, 15.95 as well as a number of other sources, all indicated.

List of names of those who went out to 
Spain on the Republican side

 A-E F-K L-O P-Z


These combined lists give a potential total for Irish involvement on the Republican side as 244 (see McLaughlin and Blake notes). Having said that, the "Irish" includes those of Irish decent or some of even inclination! 


These 2 were listed on the original International Brigades memorial banner, but are not Irish.
Samuel Lee London d. Jarama 0237 MoRiordan
John Scott S Africa d. Jarama 0237 MoRiordan

Jim Brady is listed in Stradlings book, on the basis of the words of the C Moore song. But on rechecking this, see the Peter O'Connor pamphlet that replaces JB with "Jim Straney of the Falls", this makes more sense even if is wrong geographically, JS was from the Short Strand.

Key to sources

BA Bill Alexander British Volunteers
CC Clare Champion 21st December 1979
DT Dublin Tribune 11th October 1990
EO Eoin O’Duffy Crusade
ER Esmond Romilly Boadilla
GK Gustav Klaus Strong Words, Strong Deeds
Hopkins Into the Fire. p268 "had been in Spain since October 1937. He was 28, Irish, and judged an 'incorrigible, useless type.' In his file the commissar noted tersely that Meeke was shot while attempting to escape.

[Info. From Soviet archives. The impression I take from the book is that this death was in Jan, 1938.]

IB International Brigade IB Association Archives, London
IA Irish Archives
IT Irish Times 9th April 1975 and 29th September 1997
JG John Gerassi Premature Antifascists
JM Joe Monks With the Reds in Spain
KJ Kate Johnsson Spanish Collection
KW Keith Watson Single to Spain
LC Limerick Chronicle 27th October 1938
MO Michael O'Riordan Connolly Column
Manus Manus O'Riordan Irish and Jewish volunteers in the Spanish anti-fascist war. 1987
NM National Museum of Labour History
OA RTE Even the Olives are Bleeding
RS Robert Stradling Brother against Brother
SA Spanish Archives
SC Sean Cronin Frank Ryan
SP Sunday Press 29th May 1983


The following Irish names (whose owners may have been Irish born) occur in the Spanish Archives:

British Battalion:
W. Boyce, P. Boyle, F. Butler, R. Burns, W. Byrne, S. Donnell, Doyle, John Gorman, J. Kelly, W. McCartney, G. McDermott, McGrath, John O’Connell, William O’Hanlon, J. O’Hara, Charles O’Neill, Riley, M. Sullivan, Bernard Sweeney, D. Walsh

Lincoln Battalion (0637):
A. Burke, G. Cunningham, J. McGrath, M. McLaughlin (?Charles) O’Neill, M. Moran, J. Nolan, W. Walsh

Lincoln Battalion (0238):
Roe Burke, Vincent Deegan, Bill Donnelly, Joe MacKean, Tom McNulty, Patrick Murphy, Charles O’Barr, Joe O’Brien, Patrick O’Boyle, Paul O’Dell, Walter O’Kane, Tom O’Malley, John O’Sullivan, Larry O’Toole, Joe Walsh

Other XV Brigade Units:
Patrick O’Brien (cook at Albacete) Ernest Mahoney (postal services)

Some notes added by Ciaran Crossey

Robert Armstrong
While I need to check this out, I think this Robert Armstrong is possibly mistaken. There was a Robert Armstrong, a Scottish Marxist active in the Revolutionary Socialist Party/Workers International League in Ireland between 1939-1948. He was a member of the International Brigade, and the Communist Party of Great Britain. After he was wounded and returned home, Armstrong became a Trotskyist and moved to Belfast.

The Belfast Telegraph of 30th May 1937 lists some anti-fascists who are being released, included among them is a Jack Flin, aged 29 from Derry.

Mick Lehane
He died in WW2 while serving on a Norwegian ship in 1942.

This is almost certainly a case of double counting, see W Laughlin listed above. they are one and the same person.

Additional Note, June 17th, 1999

If you check the Belfast News Letter reports, they give information on the two men who went out to help with Medical Aid, Fred McMahon and Joseph Boyd.