Frank Conroy, Kildare republican and communist, died in Córdoba, Spain 1936
Christy Moore paid tribute to the Irishmen of the International Brigades with his poignant song ‘Vive la quinta Brigada’. In the final verse Moore names Frank Conroy, his fellow county man, “who fought and died in Spain with the International Brigade”.
Frank Conroy came from Fair Green, Kildare town and was an IRA activist who fought with the working class against the fascist Blue Shirts in Kildare and Dublin during the hungry 1930s. Like many Republicans he joined the Republican Congress and Communist Party. Conroy volunteered to fight with Republican leader Frank Ryan in the International Brigade to defend the Spanish Republic against Franco.
A report from Spain written by Donal O’Reilly recorded, “May, Fox and Conroy can’t be stopped taking down and cleaning their machine gun. A comradeship of heroes. The company forms and moves to the attack. The fire is terrific, bits of guns fly and we think we’re all hit. Kit Conway is fair bursting to get to grips, but first must lend two of our best gunners – Mick May and Frank Conroy – to the French battalion”.
In addition on December 26, 1936 Conroy was in action with the International Brigade again and was sent to the front at Andalusia. Frank and his comrades advanced towards the village of Lopera, a few kilometres west of Andujar. Fighting here was fierce; they came under shell and machine-gun fire and casualties were heavy. The Irish lost nine killed including Frank Conroy. Frank Ryan wrote of Frank Conroy “who fought like a hero the same day.”
People in Dublin demonstrated their solidarity with the International Brigade at a packed meeting held on 19 February 1937. A huge banner bearing the names of Denis Coady, James Meehan, Daniel Boyle and Frank Conroy was displayed with the inscription: “We salute the memory of these Irish Defenders of Democracy killed fighting on the Spanish Front.”