The Irish and the Spanish civil war
The Spanish civil war lasted from July 1936 until April 1939. The war itself was fought by the republicans on one side who remained loyal to the Spanish republic and the nationalists on the other side led by fascist general Francisco Franco. Franco wanted to overthrow the democratically elected centre - left government who were backed mainly during the civil war by the working class citizens. This civil war proved to gripe international attention as many people around the world strongly identified with what they say as clear – cut issues involved and wanted to help in some shape or form. Due to this international military support began to emerge for both sides from around the world in assisting their fight in the civil war. From the start Hitler’s fascist Germany backed Franco by giving him aerial support by giving him Junker planes and then by early 1937 fascist Italian leader Mussolini had sent over near 70,000 volunteers to help with Franco’s cause and also some more aerial support in the form of planes. With the rise of fascism causing fear and concern for many around Europe this military response also lead to military response also from the left wing including over 35,000 men and women who volunteered and fought in the international brigades on behalf of the Spanish republic. The Irish response to the Spanish civil war was quite unique. Not only was their volunteers going over to fight in Spain in the international brigades on behalf of the republic but also genuine volunteers that went over from Ireland to fight on behalf of Franco and his nationalists. This group that went on behalf of Franco’s side was led by former Garda commissioner Eoin O’Duffy, who was also political leader of the blue shirts in Ireland which were a right – wing political organisation which began to emerge in Ireland at the beginning of the 1930’s. For O’Duffy he saw this as a perfect time to try reviving his and his organisation flagging status...
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