Tracing Frank Conroy

by Mick Healy

On 13 December 1936 Frank Conroy, a member of the Republican Congress and the Communist Party of Ireland, sailed on the Holyhead ferry, alongside Frank Ryan, determined to defend the Spanish Republic against the fascist rebellion.

This Spanish Civil War hero died on 28 December 1936 fighting with the 15th International Brigade.

With no clue to when or where Frank Conroy was born or any trace of his family, and with only a few snippets of information about his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, the Frank Conroy Commemoration Committee organised its first event on 16 December 2012 at the Republican Memorial in Kildare.

Historian James Durney, who attended this first commemoration, said that, while all historical references to Conroy mention that he was from Kildare, it’s not clear if he was from the town itself or somewhere else in the county.  It had been said, for instance, that he came from Fairgreen, but the 1911 census has no record of a family of this name living there at the time.

Two years later, however, Durney wrote that he had found Conroy’s birthplace in Co. Kildare, namely Kilcullen. While this is where Frank was born, on 25 February 1914, even newer information tells us that he grew up in Irishtown, Dublin. That indicates that the Conroy family moved back to the capital.

Further information about Frank came last year from the son of another International Brigader, Gerry Doran.  We learned that Conroy crossed into Spain with Doran on 14 December 1936, under the guidance of Frank Ryan.

Conroy and Doran fought at the Battle of Lopera, where both were wounded. Frank died from gunshot wounds to the body and shrapnel wounds to the head; Gerry Doran received similar wounds but survived.

Contact has also been established with a niece of Frank Conroy whose mother Eileen is Frank’s youngest sister who emigrated to New York many years ago from Ireland. This niece lives in America, and has news of other relatives living in Ireland.

Posted on December 3, 2017, in 1930s and 1940s, Free State in 1920s, 1930s and 1940s, General revolutionary history, Historiography and historical texts, Internationalism, Republicanism post-1900. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Tracing Frank Conroy.

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