Oxford supporters rally and sing

Post date: 26/03/2020

This is an edited version of a report provided by John Haywood, IBMT Trustee and member of the Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee.


Alison Skilbeck recites poetry and letters of the volunteers.

On 8 March dozens of comrades gathered at Holywell Music Rooms in Oxford to celebrate volunteers from the UK and Ireland who fought to defend democracy in the Spanish Civil War.

The event, titled ‘Comrades Come Rally’, featured a number of actors and musicians reading and performing Spanish Civil War-themed works. Actors Alison Skilbeck, Tim Hardy and Jeff Robert read poems, letters and battle memoirs of volunteers like Cecil Day Lewis, John Cornford, Charlotte Haldane, Frank McCasker, John Dunlop, Thora Silverthorne and many others.

Folk duo Na-Mara.

The folk duo Na-Mara played their songs ‘The Bite’, ‘Only for Three Months’ and ‘The English Penny’ and led on a collective variation of ‘Jarama Valley’ before the intermission. Irish singer Brenda O’Riordan performed ‘La Carmagnole’ and ‘The Minstrel Boy’. IBMT Ireland Secretary Manus O’Riordan followed with ‘Song for Charlie Donnelly’ and ‘If My Voice on Earth Should Die’ before collaborating with sister Brenda on a duet of ‘Viva la Quinta Brigada’ – a song about the Irishmen who fought in Spain against Franco. Attendees were also treated to a medley of traditional Spanish palos from professional flamenco guitarist Marco.

Flamenco guitarist Marco.

Tim Hardy recites poetry and letters of the volunteers.

The evening concluded with a recital of La Pasionaria’s iconic farewell speech to the International Brigades, read in both English and Spanish by Alison, and then all attendees joined in for a rendition of 'The Internationale'. Marlene Sidaway, President of the IBMT, thanked the Oxford International Brigade Memorial Committee for organizing the fundraiser on behalf of the Trust.

See ‘The Minstrel Boy’ sung by Brenda O’Riordan at the river Ebro as well as many other recordings on the Video section of the IBMT website.

The historic Holywell Music Room in Oxford.


Posted on 26 March 2020.

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