This article was translated by John R. Bopp
The Irish daily The Irish Times has just published an article this afternoon that tells the story of Jack Prendergast, the Irishman who left his homeland to join the militias of the Basque Nationalist Party that were fighting against fascism in the Basque Country.
In Ireland, the sympathies towards the sides that had formed after Franco’s fascist insurrection were divided. On the one side, the Irish Brigade was made up of 700 followers of Irish fascist Eoin O’Duffy, who joined Franco’s troops. On the other hand, a smaller group, led by Frank Ryan, joined the International Brigades that fought along the different Spanish fronts.
But there was a third group of Irishmen. Well, Irishman. Irish Republican Jack Prendergast decided to participate in the fight against fascism on the side of Basque nationalism. So, he joined the militias that the Basque Nationalist Party was creating in the first days of the war, and then joined the Euzko Gudarostea, the unified Basque army, which acted throughout the war under the command of Lehendakari Agirre.
Jack Prendergast only wanted to fight with the Basques in defense of the Basque people’s cause, as he clarified in a letter he sent to The Evening Herald in 1939, where he revealed that he hadn’t fought with the International Brigades, but as a soldier in the Basque Army, where he stayed “in order to fight with the Basques until the last inch of Basque territory had been taken”.
He was part of the Irrintzi “Infantry Accompanying Machines” (MAI) Battalion, where he reached the rank of Captain. Interestingly, his superior was Gabino Artolozaga, a nationalist born in Chile in 1899, who completed his military service as a artillery sergeant on the coast. We say “interestingly” because this Basque-Chilean, between 1914 and 1920, basically during the First World War, first belonged to the Sokotz group in Yugoslavia, and then to Sinn Fein in Ireland.
He was captured in Santoña by the insurgents and expelled from the State by the rebel authorities for being an “undesirable foreigner”, which is still one of the highest compliments an antifascist can receive.
The story of a Friend of the Basques, which was told in a series of talks organized in Dublin to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Bombing of Guernica.
The Irish Times – 23/4/2017 – Irlanda
Irishman who fought in Spanish Civil War remembered at 80th anniversary
The only Irishman known to have fought with the Basque army during the Spanish Civil War was remembered at an event in Dublin this weekend marking the 80th anniversary of the destruction of Gernika.