Friday, August 19, 2011

Peter Daly - Monageers Great Republican Socialist

Irish republicans and socialists of various points of view will gather in Monageer on Saturday the 3rd of September to honour the memory of Peter Daly.

Peter Daly was born in Liverpool on 27 September, 1903. His father was Lar Daly, an active member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The Daly family returned to Ireland when Peter was just a child. He attended school in the old schoolhouse at Tinnacross and later Monageer. He became an active member of the local unit of Na Fianna Eireann, carrying messages, gathering and hiding arms and organising anti-British protests.
Peter fought for the anti treaty side in the civil war, fiercely opposing the implementation of the treaty and the foundation of the new freestate. He was wounded in battle and spent seventeen months in a freestate gaol. He was only released after going on hunger strike.

Peter found life extremely difficult in post war Ireland. Having fought on the losing side in the civil war, he could not find anyone who would employ him. Like thousands of his comrades, he was forced to emigrate to survive. He went to London where he eventually enlisted in the British army for four years. His service only came to an end when his superiors discovered that he was supplying their arms to the IRA. He promptly returned home where he took up a position as a training officer with the Wexford IRA.

In 1934, Peter joined the Republican Congress, an organisation formed by a group of radical Republicans and intellectuals, including Peadar O’Donnell, George Gilmore, Frank Ryan and Nora Connolly-O’Brien. Peter embraced the non sectarian republican views expressed by the congress. Economic hardship forced him to leave his work with the congress and to return to London where he worked as a labourer on a building site.

In 1936, a military cable led by General Franco attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of Spain. They were supported by Fascist elements from across Europe. The other nations of Europe and the USA decided to stay out of the conflict as was their international policies at the time. This prompted free loving people from across the globe to enlist in the International Brigades, and to go to Spain to defend democracy. Peter Daly was one of the first recruits.

Peter played a leading role at the battle of Jarama on the 12th of February. He was wounded but was back on the front at Pozo Blanco-Chomora. It was the job of international brigade volunteers there to defend the mercury mines of Almaden which was much coveted by Franco’s allies, Nazi Germany.
During this period one of Peters comrades said the following about him;
“He was the type of leader for whom men would have gone through hell, and his qualities were such that he merited this high regard of his comrades.”

In April 1937, Peter’s unit was transferred to the Basque region to relieve under pressure troops there. Despite being recently wounded again, Peter returned to his unit and was made commander of the British and Irish battalion. Peter’s unit took the fortified town of Quinto after three days of fierce fighting but still had a fortress above the town raining fire down upon them. Peter led an assault on this building and was badly wounded in the stomach. He died in Benicasim Hospital outside Valencia on the 5th of September 1937.

The Monageer Sinn Féin cumann is named in honour of Peter Daly. They have been holding annual commemorations in his honour since 2007, and are part of the organising committee for this year’s non political commemoration.

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