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Frank Conroy Remembered in Kildare

07/01/12

On Saturday December 16, éirígí activists were among a crowd of republicans, socialists and trade unionists that gathered in Kildare town to commemorate Volunteer Frank Conroy.

The Kildare native was a committed socialist republican who had been a member of the IRA and the Republican Congress before joining the International Brigade and going to Spain to fight against fascism. On December 28th 1936, Conroy gave his life in defence of the Spanish Republic during fierce fighting at Lopera in Córdoba.

Brian Leeson

The commemoration, which was organised by the newly established Frank Conroy Commemoration Committee, assembled at the republican monument in the heart of Kildare town. As the crowd assembled the cold of the winter’s day was kept at bay with the heart-warming songs of resistance that were sung by local musician Paul McCormack.

Cathaoirleach éirígí Brian Leeson, who chaired the proceedings, first introduced Sean Edwards from the Communist Party of Ireland who in turn spoke about Conroy’s history as a militant anti-fascist, from his days in the IRA fighting against the Blueshirts, to his decision to join the International Brigade and fight the rise of fascism in Spain. Edwards also mentioned the similarity of conditions between Ireland in the 1930’s and the Ireland of today.

The main speaker for the day, Harry Owens, followed, explaining why committed Irish republicans took the decision to go to Spain by quoting the words of Frank Ryan, ‘Because it’s the same fight in both places!’

Harry Owens addresses the crowd

Owens gave a detailed account of the life and times of Vol. Frank Conroy including the battle in which he gave his life. In concluding his address Owens said, “Our challenge is to turn today’s crisis into a transformation to abolish control by the elites who caused it and end the bailouts and tax scandals of our millionaires. We need to make our country move towards the kind of vision of the Dáil that Fr O’Flanagan opened, and which Frank Conroy fought and died to help the Spanish people achieve. For if our existing elites do survive in power we will have failed. Then we will hear those tragic words of Fr Michael O’Flanagan, ‘they have fooled you again’”.

Wreaths in tribute to Conroy were laid on behalf of éirígí, the Communist Party of Ireland, the Workers Solidarity Movement, Anti Fascist Action Ireland, Tús Nua, the Workers’ Party and the Labour Party. The Frank Conroy Commemoration Committee hope to build on the success of December’s commemoration to ensure the courage and sacrifices of Vol. Frank Conroy continue to be remembered in his native Kildare.

 

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