Spanish Civil War veteran Bob Doyle honored with Dublin plaque

A plaque was unveiled in Dublin in honor of the late Bob Doyle, a veteran of the Spanish Civil War who fought with the International Brigade against Nationalist General Francisco Franco.

Mr Doyle, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, was born Saturday on North King Street in Smithfield, where a plaque was erected in his memory.

Organized by the Stoneybatter and Smithfield History Project, funding for the plaque was raised through a number of events and donations.

Mr Doyle’s granddaughter unveiled the plaque and thanked those who had helped organize the memorial, which she called “a great honor for a great man”.

Bob Doyle, pictured in Dublin in 2007. Photograph: Aidan Crawley / The Irish Times

Mr. Doyle joined the anti-Treaty IRA in the 1930s and later the Communist Party. He took part in street battles with the Dublin Blueshirts and Animal Gangs, known for their attacks on union activists, and one of these confrontations left him with permanent damage to his left eye.

In 1937, he decided to join the International Brigade in its defense of a Spanish republic and was captured in Gandesa by Italian fascist troops. He was imprisoned for 11 months in a concentration camp near Burgos. While interned there, he was once taken out to be shot, and he was regularly tortured by Spanish guards and questioned by the Gestapo before his release as part of a prisoner exchange.

Back in Ireland in 1939, he couldn’t find a job. In England he got a job building air raid shelters and later joined the Merchant Navy.

After his release he worked in the printing press and became active in the Fleet Street unions. Arrested in 1959 during a mass picket line in favor of the 40-hour week, he was charged with rioting but cleared by an Old Bailey jury.

A member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, he ran as a candidate in the local elections. He was also an enthusiastic activist, marching in favor of miners, dockworkers and steelworkers and against the voting tax.

He spoke regularly at Hyde Park Corner, and sold the Irish Democrat and An Phoblacht.

Late in his life, he discovered marijuana and grew cannabis plants at home for his own use. But burglars have put an end to its illicit breeding.

“Everything was stuck,” he said of the theft, “and I couldn’t talk to the police about it. “

Before his death, he published a book documenting his experiences of the Spanish Civil War titled Brigadista: An Irishman’s Fight Against Fascism. – Additional PA reports


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