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A Comradeship of Heroes

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Presented by Charleville Mall Library, as part of Dublin Festival of History 2021

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Charleville Mall Library is pleased to host this online talk “A Comradeship of Heroes” by Joe Mooney of the East Wall History Group. The Christy Moore song “Viva la Quinta Brigada” pays tribute to the Irishmen who joined the International Brigades to fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War.

Often referred to as the “Connolly Column” (after the 1916 leader), an estimated 240 Irish took part, with almost 70 being killed. East Wall man Jack Nalty was the last to die in September of 1938. He had been among the first volunteers who left Dublin for Spain in December of 1936 , alongside North Inner City men Dinny Coady ( who lived on Marlborough Street) and Tommy Wood (from Buckingham Place) both of whom would die on Spanish soil before that year ended.

Others mentioned in the song include Kit Conway and Charlie Donnelly who had both spent time living locally. Future author Brendan Behan had tried to volunteer but was refused due to his young age.

Why were these young men prepared to travel and take up arms on a foreign battlefield? What motivated them to sacrifice their lives in defence of the Spanish Republic? This talk will answer these questions and tell the story of the North Inner-City men who joined the “comradeship of heroes”, exploring the backgrounds in the republican, socialist and trade union movements of their native city, and the grim experiences they faced overseas.

Tommy Wood, the youngest Irish volunteer to die (aged just 17), in a letter left for his mother explained: “I am very sorry for not telling you where I was going. I am going to Spain to fight with the International Column. Please forgive me for not letting you know. We are going out to fight for the working class.”

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Organiser Dublin Festival of History

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The Dublin Festival of History is an annual free festival, brought to you by Dublin City Council, and organised by Dublin City Libraries, in partnership with the Dublin City Council Culture Company.

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