Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain 23 November 1936

Eoin O'Duffy blueshirts

Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain

In August 1936 General Eoin O’Duffy, the former Garda commissioner and leader of the Blueshirts, announced the formation of an Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain where a Civil War had broken out. O’Duffy claimed he was motivated by the historic links between Ireland and Spain, anti-communism and the need to defend the Catholic Church. The Spanish Civil War, fought between 1936-1939 would prove to be one of the most controversial and bloodiest conflicts of the twentieth century and had Irishmen on both sides. The following newspaper report described the departure of O’Duffy’s brigade:

General O'Duffy, sailed from Liverpool on Saturday for Lisbon…O'Duffy, who, like his men, was dressed in civilian clothes, refused to discuss the intentions and movements of the party, but one member admitted that they were bound for Spain, ‘to fight for their faith’. The majority of the men were under 25, and little luggage was carried. Some of the men are believed to have formerly held rank in the Free State Army, while others are stated to be students.

These idealistic young men also saw their participation in the Spanish Civil War as helping to solve political divisions in Ireland and ultimately Irish unity. Interviewed in Dublin prior to his departure for Spain, Capt. P. Quinn from county Kilkenny, made the following statement:

I believe that if an Irish Brigade succeed in reaching Spain, and there fights against Communism and all its terrors, it will do more good than anything else to help the Irish people to organise at home and bury political differences in the interests of national unity.

Interviewed before he sailed, General O’Duffy said told reporters that ‘this is no time for words, but actions’. As the boat left the quayside there were loud cheers and one young solider shouted ‘we will be back before Christmas’.

Irish Press 23.November.1936 Eoin o'Duffy Blueshirts

 ; source newspaper: / Irish Press 1931-1995, Monday, November 23, 1936; Section: Front page, Page: 1;