Unveiling of Peter Daly memorial in Monageer, Enniscorthy, Saturday 3 September 2011
AFA Ireland was proud to accept an invitation from the Peter Daly Society in Wexford to attend the unveiling of a new memorial to Brigadista Peter Daly in who fought and died with the Irish contingent of the International Brigade in the war against fascism in Spain in September 1937. A large AFA contingent was in attendance on the day and laid a memorial wreath on behalf of all our members. Alongside the Peter Daly Society, contingents from the Communist Party of Ireland, The Peoples Movement/Gluaiseacht an Phobail, Unite the Union, The Workers Party, Independent Workers Union and the Cuban Ambassador were present on the day.

Peter Daly was born in Liverpool on 27 September, 1903, into a family steeped in Irish revolutionary traditions. His father, Lar Daly, was one of the founders, and chairman, of the Tom Clarke Society in Liverpool and was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The Daly family returned to Wexford, where Peter spent his childhood. As a youth he was an active member of the local unit of Na Fianna Eireann, carrying messages, gathering and hiding arms and organising anti-British protests.

Having taken the Republican side in the Civil War, Peter was wounded and taken prisoner. After 17 months in gaol, he finally secured his release after an 18-day hunger strike. The 1920’s were a period when work was scarce, being almost impossible to find if you had taken the losing side in the Civil War. Peter was forced to emigrate and worked in Britain for a period. He joined the British army in which he served for four years, reaching the rank of Sergeant. His service promptly ended when it was discovered he was smuggling guns to the IRA – Peter had to leave in a hurry!

He returned to Ireland and in 1934, he joined Republican Congress, an organisation formed by a group of radical Republicans and intellectuals, including Peadar O’Donnell, George Gilmore, Frank Ryan and Nora Connolly-O’Brien. It was the aim of this group to bring together all of Ireland’s republicans, workers and small farmers in their common interest, irrespective of religion, in a 20th century version of the United Irishmen.

In 1936, a well-planned revolt led by General Franco and three other army generals, with backing from the future axis powers of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy under Mussolini, attempted to overthrow the democratically elected Republican government of Spain. As Britain, France and the USA remained uninvolved – as was their policy during this period of appeasement and non-intervention - Peter Daly was one of the first to volunteer for the International Brigade which went to Spain to fight for the cause of the Republic in the Civil War.
He took part in many fierce battles, including Jarama and the Cordoba Front, and was wounded three times, always returning to the fray. He rose to be a battalion commander, having under his leadership many volunteers from England, Scotland, Wales, Cyprus, US and Canada. Writing of his conduct, his fellow soldier Alec Donaldson, said that "he was courage incarnate. He was the type of leader for whom men would have gone through hell, and his qualities were such that he merited this high regard of his comrades".

Showing great bravery, Peter led an assault on the fortification in Quinto and was badly wounded in the stomach during the assault. His men, who were devoted to their leader, carried him back to safety, despite the rain of death coming from the hills. Peter was transferred to Benicasim Hospital outside Valencia where he died at 6.10a.m. on September 5th, 1937. Michael O’Riordan’s definitive history on the Irish participation in the Spanish Civil War states he was ‘a great Irishman and a great commander.’

He was one of the men of whom Dolores Ibarruri, the famed ‘La Passionara’ spoke the words: “You gave your youth or maturity, your science and experience, your blood and your lives for the Spanish people and asked nothing at all. When the years pass by and wounds of the war are healed, and pride in a free country is felt equally by all Spaniards, speak to your children. Tell them of these men of the International Brigade.

The Peter Daly Society Society has been founded in Wexford to complete the memorial to his memory but also to provide a forum for discussing the application of his socialist republican ideas to contemporary problems in Irish society. To that end the society will be sponsoring debates and discussions in Wexford on an ongoing basis.
Make a Free Website with Yola.