Barry McLoughlin retired as Senior Lecturer for Irish and Contemporary History from Vienna University in 2016. He is the author of Left to the Wolves: Irish Victims of Stalinist Terror (2007) and five books (as co-author and editor) on aspects of Stalinism and Soviet State terror, especially in respect of Austrian victims and the Austrian Communist Party.
Emmet O’Connor lectures in Ulster University. He has published widely on Labour history, including, with UCD Press, Reds and the Green: Ireland, Russia, and the Communist Internationals (2004), A Labour History of Ireland, 1824–2000 (2011), and one of our bestselling biographies Big Jim Larkin: Hero or Wrecker? (2015).
The Spanish Civil War has an enduring fascination, not least for the way it drew some 35,000 non-Spaniards to risk their lives to halt the march of fascism. It has also acquired renewed relevance from the surge of neofascism in Europe. At the same time, the representation of International
Brigaders as champions of liberty and stainless heroes has been subject to increasing scrutiny, notably since the opening up of former Soviet archives.
This definitive study of the Connolly Column – the Irish who fought for Republican Spain – reassesses the Irish experience in the light of sources at home and in Russia, Spain, Germany, Austria, and Britain, driven by a conviction that Ireland was not so isolated in the 1930s and needs to be understood in a more comparative way. Interrogating the publicity generated by the supporters of the Spanish Republic in Ireland, north and south, it shows too how communist groups in Spain waged the war with one eye on its propaganda value back home and uncovers fresh evidence on the controversial career of Frank Ryan.
The account is exceptional in providing a detailed narrative of what the Irish actually did in Spain. In graphic descriptions of combat and army routine behind the lines, it illustrates how International Brigades units operated, how politics affected their efficiency, and what their command systems meant for the life, and death, of ordinary brigadistas.
'McLoughlin and O’Connor have written an excellent account of the Irish who fought for the Republic that, in its scope and scholarship, stands alongside the many books – thoroughly researched and objective in approach – that now cover many of the national contingents in the International Brigades.' - Labour History Review, March 2023. Read the full review here.
'Barry McLoughlin and Emmet O’Connor have written a definitive account of the 247 Irishmen who fought for the Spanish Republic.'
Excellent review of In Spanish Trenches in the Socialist History Review.
Full review here.
'In Spanish Trenches is a complete history of the International Brigades but with the Irishmen as the main characters. Men who fought, were wounded, died, or even deserted, in a war that was not Ireland’s, but felt like it was.'
Uma Arruga I López, review in The Jacobin, July 2021
'McLoughlin and O'Connor's In Spanish trenches will become indespensible for all who are interested in Irish participation in the Internatioanl Brigades'
History Ireland, May 2021
'Based on over 25 years’ work and archival research in five countries, In Spanish Trenches is unarguably the definitive account of the Irish in the International Brigades.'
Irish Examiner, Feb 2021
'The scholarship of the 25 years that the authors spent on this outstanding work irradiates every page'
Kevin Myers, review in the Irish Independent, Jan 2021
''In Spanish Trenches is ... a meticulously detailed history of all the Irish who fought for the Republic in the Connolly Column'
Dublin Review of Books, March 2021. Full review available here.
'... their impressive use of Canadian records has brought many previously unrecorded Irish volunteers to light.'
Irish Political Review, March 2021. Full review here.