Spanish fascists attack memorial to Tyrone poet

Matthew Collins - 17 11 16
The vandalised memorial

The vandalised memorial

Spanish fascists have attacked a monument to Dungannon poet Charlie Donnelly, who was killed fighting Fascism in the Spanish Civil War. The memorial is in Rivas-Vaciamadrid, on the outskirts of Madrid. The fascists threw blue paint over it. In Spain, the colour blue is associated with the far-right.

The Rivas-Vaciamadrid City Council immediately repaired the monument. Eddie O’Neill, of the Irish International Brigade Memorial Trust, said local people are very supportive of the monument. “They have a great gratitude to the foreign volunteers like Donnelly who came to Spain to fight Fascism,” he said. “The monument contains a stone from every county in Ireland, and the main stone comes from Dungannon, near Charlie Donnelly’s home. The City Council gave the ground.” He said that, unfortunately, there was still an element in Spain who targeted memorials to anti-Fascist martyrs.

Charlie Donnelly

Charlie Donnelly

Charlie Donnelly was a major Irish poet of the 1930s, killed before he could fulfil his potential. He was born in Killybrackey, just outside Dungannon, in July 1914. The family moved, first to Dundalk then to Dublin. He studied briefly at University College, Dublin. He was expelled from the University, and twice jailed for left-wing activities. He was both writing poems and very involved in socialist movements. At 20 he was on the executive of short-lived left-wing organisation Republican Congress.

When the army, with support from Nazi Germany, rebelled against the democratic government in Spain, he joined the International Brigades. After short training, he was promoted to Company Commander. His unit was sent into the Battle of Jarama, where it prevented the fascists winning a decisive victory. On 27 February 1937 he and his fellow-volunteers were taking cover from heavy fire among olive trees. He picked up a handful of olives and said: “Even the olives are bleeding.” He never spoke again, because within minutes he was killed by machine-gun fire.

There will be a commemoration in Dungannon in February next to mark the 80th anniversary of his death.

* This aticle originally appeared in the Sunday World on 13th November


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