Irish Pipers and the Spanish Civil War/ Ross’s Xmas Song

St Mary’s Pipers’ band 1937

Reader Alastair MacGregor on ‘Irish Pipers and the Spanish Civil War’: ‘I nearly choked on my cornflakes last week when l saw the request for information on the Irish pipers who fought for Franco’s fascists in the Spanish Civil War.

‘There can be many reasons for historical research – lets hope it’s not based on ambivalence or indifference. I’m not surprised there is difficult in tracking down relatives. I’d be surprised today if many of them would want to be associated with a civil war which saw their relatives on the side of a dictator whose victory against the democratically elected government of Spain brought in 36 years of dictatorship and the murder of so many.

‘Many Irish and Scottish men fought and died for Spain’s democracy in the International Brigades, the former being honoured by Christy Moore in his song ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’. Perhaps the festival’s organisers should research those who fought for democracy and against fascism and not those that were part of O’Duffy’s fascists who, as Christy Moore sang in the song, ‘were blessed by the bishops in Dun Laoire as they sailed under the swastika to Spain’


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‘The brave men and woman of the International Brigades fear that if they didn’t stop fascism in Spain it would spread. History proved them right as Hitler and Mussolini aided Franco and used Spain as a trial run for the Second World War. By total coincidence, I’m currently reading about the last writings of the poet John Cornford who died on his 21st birthday on the 27th December 1936 at Lopera in Spain after defending Madrid with the 14rth International Brigade. No paserán.’

Ronan Maguire on the same issue: ‘I’d never heard of the St Mary’s Pipers’ band until I read the article years ago. I got to know the historian who wrote it – Donal Fallon – via a few of his articles on the site.

‘He’s also done some work on the Fintan Lalor band. My grandfather actually fought on the republican side as part of the International Brigade – he was 21 at the time – and one of the few that made it home.’


Christmas Single

Top piper Ross Miller has been in touch about his new Christmas single. It’s available to stream on all the usual places and to purchase on Bandcamp.

The blurb: ‘Spawned from a successful social media series of Christmas videos over the last few years, ‘Christmas Madness’ showcases Ross’s creative flair, seamlessly merging traditional Gaelic melodies with well known Christmas songs to create an exciting and light hearted track which should get every listener in the festive mood.’

He’s also created a YouTube video:

Tunes, all arranged by Ross: Ruidhle Mon Nighean Donn, Deck the Halls, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, ‘S Iomadh Rud A Chunnaic Mi, and We Wish You A Merry Christmas. Recorded, mixed and mastered at Brookwood Recording, Glasgow. Produced by Ross and Callum Edwards. Musicians: Pipes – Ross Miller, fiddle and bass – Charlie Stewart, keys – Rory Matheson, percussion – Callum Edwards.


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