By Ernest Walker
As part of the Shankill Winter Fest the Belfast-based International Brigade Commemoration Committee (IBCC) was invited to hold an event by the organisers. The IBCC took up the offers and a meeting was held in the Spectrum Centre on Belfast’s Shankill Road on 17January to commemorate the leaving of Spain by the International Brigades.
Attended by over 40 people, the event was opened by Jackie Redpath of the Greater Shankill Partnership Board, who thanked the IBCC for organising the event and gave a welcome to those in attendance.
Speakers included IBMT President Marlene Sidaway (partner of Brigader David Marshall), who gave an overview of the situation in Spain late in 1938 and also spoke about Jack Jones and Tom Wintringham.
The chair of the IBCC, Ciaran Crossey, talked about the Belfast Brigaders, making special mention of those who came from the Shankill Road and North Belfast. IBCC member Dooley Harte spoke about Lurgan man Jim Haughey, who survived Spain only to be killed as a member of the Royal Canadian Air force during the Second World War. This was followed by Manus O’Riordan, IBMT Ireland Secretary, who put a poem written by Jim to music. Manus then went on to speak about his father, Michael O’Riordan, and his experiences on his return to Ireland.
From left: Manus O’Riordan, Anna Monks (daughter of Irish volunteer, Joe Monks), Nancy Wallach and Ulrike Rom.
Adam Murray concluded that part of the evening by giving the audience an insight into the life of Bob Doyle, the Dublin Brigader who unveiled the Belfast memorial in Writers Square.
There were two international guests present, Nancy Wallach from New York who spoke about her father Hy Wallach, and Ulrike Rom from Berlin who spoke about her husband Willi Rom, who fought with the Thälmann Battalion in Spain. During the Second World War he was a member of the Red Orchestra (Die Rote Kappelle) spy ring.
A presentation of photographs of all those who were spoken about was projected on screen. One of these was a photo of Brigaders Jackie Edwards from Liverpool and Lípiz Rodríguez, from Cuba. Lynda Walker told the audience of how Shankill man Joe Law accompanied Jackie to Cuba with the Belfast Trades Council May Day delegation in 2009, and of how they visited Lípiz in the Matanzas area of Cuba. Sadly now all have passed away.
The IBCC would like to thank the Greater Shankill Partnership Board for giving it the opportunity to stage this successful event, with thanks also to the staff at the Spectrum Centre, all the contributors and finally those who turned out on a winter’s night to make it all worthwhile.
Ernest Walker is the Secretary of the IBCC.
Posted on29 January 2019.