Joe Mulheron: a tribute

Post date: 06/06/2023

Lynda Walker of the Belfast-based International Brigade Commemoration Committee writes…

It is with great sadness that we heard of Joe Mulheron’s death on 9 May. Joe was born in Belfast and lived in the New Lodge, but he made his home in Derry. He was a political activist for civil rights and many other causes. 

Joe was a traditional singer and wrote many songs – nearly all of them with a political view, and often with a humorous stance. They included ‘The Lid of My Granny’s Bin’ and ‘The Connolly Column’ (see below). 

He helped create the Men of No Property with Brian Moore and Gerry Jones, a radical singing group that took no prisoners. Their name was taken from a statement made by Wolfe Tone, who is considered the father of Irish Republicanism: ‘If the men of property will not support us, they must fall. Our strength shall come from that great respectable class, the men of no property.’ 

One of Joe’s causes was support for the International Brigaders who fought against fascism in Spain from 1936-1939. He knew Bob Doyle and once drove him some miles in Spain to his appointed meeting with comrades. 

When Jack Jones and Bob died we held an event for them and their families. On 5 December 2009 relatives of Bob Doyle, Jack Jones and the International Brigade Memorial Trust travelled to Derry via the Giants Causeway. 

In Sandinos in Derry there was a memorial event for them both with Bob Doyle Jr speaking and songs and music. One of the songs that was sung by Joe was ‘Connolly Column’. 

This is an edited version of a longer tribute in Unity, journal of the Irish Communist Party. 

The Connolly Column 

by Joe Mulheron

Who will call the meeting now and who will take the chair?
Who will lead us out on strike, demand an equal share?
For Johnny, brave young Johnny, in Ireland won't remain
For he's gone to fight the fascists in the civil war in Spain. 

With men from many countries you fought to save Madrid.
No one knows just how you held: the world all knows you did.
The people armed with sticks and stones against the tanks they came
And they drove back Franco's army from the city once again. 

Hitler sent the bombers in, Mussolini sent his guns.
The church excommunicated all her daughters and her sons.
They fought to make us equal, take back the rich mans gain
And they died in muddy trenches in the civil war in Spain. 

McCrotty, Derry city, Danny Boyle from Belfast town
Dinny Cody from south Dublin they fell on Spanish ground.
Kit Conway, Tipperary, Charlie Donnelly from Tyrone
Frank Ryan taken prisoner, he never would come home. 

And if fascist bullets won't permit our Johnny to return
This grievous loss his Belfast friend will never cease to mourn.
He fought for the Connolly Column in the brave Fifteenth Brigade
And he died for Spanish workers in the civil war in Spain.

Joe Mulheron (top) in 2019 with Pears McKenna.

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