THE Spanish ambassador to Ireland Javier Gerrigues will be in the city at the weekend to unveil a memorial to the six Limerick men who fought in his country’s civil war.
The Limerick International Brigades Memorial Trust (LIBMT) is hosting a largely free three-day cultural event from this Friday to Sunday commemorating the lives of Frank Ryan, Paddy Brady, Joe Ryan, Gerard Doyle, Emmett Ryan and Jim Woulfe.
In 1936, they came to the aid of Spanish Republicans fighting for a brighter future on the Iberian Peninsula.
At the time, the men were not celebrated, and for the last few years, the LIBMT have been campaigning to host a Spanish-themed cultural festival in Limerick.
Named ‘Even the Olives are Bleeding’ - after the famous last words of Irish poet Charlie Donnelly as he died under an olive tree in Jarama - there will be a variety of events around the city.
These include a free film screening of Goodbye Barcelona at 69 O’Connell Street at 8pm this Friday night, which focuses on the men who went to fight.
Released to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of the Spanish civil war, the show drawn from true recollections, is about ordinary people standing up against all the odds.
Saturday morning will see a historical walking tour by local historian Liam Irwin, and later that day Andy Irvine and Peter O’Malley will play live at 69 O’Connell Street.
The crowning moment of the inaugural festival will be the unveiling of a memorial to the six men who fought, outside City Hall.
Festival PRO Ger McCloskey said the monument - designed by artist Simon Donnelly- reflects the distress and futility of war.
Limerick joins the list of international cities which have memorials to the Spanish civil war, and to mark the occasion, ambassador Mr Garrigues will be present at lunchtime on Sunday.
The finishing touches were put to the monument at Adare Memorials this week, and Ger admitted he was a little emotional upon seeing it for the first time.
A three legged bronze star will stand at the centre, melted from bullet cases at the sites of the battles the men fought in.
“It is finally coming to reality. It was once a lump of stone, now it is a work of art for the people of Limerick. It is a wonderful boost,” Ger said, “I feel gratified that we got to this stage. I am a Limerick man , as are my fellow committee members. We have always pushed the Limerick agenda. It was never just about the International Brigades, it was always about promoting Limerick.”
The weekend will also see the launch of a book chronicling the men who fought dictator Franco.
‘From the Shannon to the Ebro’ features contributions from writers such as Richard Bazell, David Convery, and Alan Warren.
It provides an insight into the men’s lives and times.
It will be launched at the Mechanic’s Institute at 7.30pm, and will provide a fitting start to what the organisers hope will be the first of many festivals.
More information on the festival is available at 087-2745926.