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Memorial to honour six Limerick men who fought in Spanish Civil War

The six men joined the International Brigade in its fight with the Republican side against Franco’s army.

Joe Ryan (centre of back row) and Frank Ryan (back right) with International Brigade colleages. All were injured at Jarama Joe Ryan (centre of back row) and Frank Ryan (back right) with International Brigade colleages.

A MEMORIAL TO honour six Limerick men who fought on the Republican side during the Spanish Civil War will officially be unveiled in the grounds of Limerick City Hall today.

Gerard Doyle, Joe Ryan, Emmett Ryan, Paddy Brady, Frank Ryan and Jim Woulfe all joined the International Brigade in its fight with the Republican side against Franco’s Nationalist Army during the 1936-39 conflict.

Woulfe was killed fighting with a Canadian battalion during the Battle of Belchite in early September 1937 and is commemorated in a memorial in Ottowa in Canada. Emmet Ryan from Catherine Street died during the Battle of the Ebro River in July 1938 as Republican forces attempted to seize the small but strategically important town of Gandesa.

Of the four Civil War survivors, Joe Ryan joined the British Navy in World War Two and was killed when the HMS Dunvegan Castle was sunk by a U Boat off the northwest coast of Ireland in 1940.

Frank Ryan addressing a public meeting in 1932 Frank Ryan addressing a public meeting in 1932.

Frank Ryan died of natural causes in Dresden, Germany in June 1944 and his remains were repatriated and interred at Glasnevin Cemetery more than three decades later. Gerard Doyle, then 63, died in Cornwall in March 1970, shortly after the death of fellow Civil War veteran Paddy Brady.

Today, the Cathaoirleach of Limerick City and County Council, Kevin Sheahan will be joined at the ceremony by 40 members of the International Brigades Memorial Trust and the men’s relatives who are travelling from all over Ireland, UK, USA, Canada and Australia. A sandstone sculpted memorial which features the six men’s names has been created and will be unveiled by Charlotte Ryan Watson, Frank Ryan’s grandniece.

“The men who fought with the International Brigade are commemorated around the world and it is fitting that those six ordinary Limerick men who found themselves in extraordinary circumstances will now be remembered in their native place,” commented Sheahan ahead of the event.

“It should also be said that a number of Limerick men who travelled to Spain in support of Franco subsequently fought Fascism during the Second World War and they are also remembered on this occasion.”

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