Detailed Information

Ireland and the Spanish Civil War

This course discusses the economic, social, political, cultural and religious roots of the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) with a view to explaining the international relevance of the conflict and why the vast majority of Irish people supported Franco’s military rebellion instead of Spain’s democratic government. The domestic causes of the military coup in July 1936 will be explored in conjunction with a focus on the ideals and ideologies and other key factors that favoured its internationalisation and ultimately led to either foreign intervention (Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union) or “malevolent neutrality” (Great Britain, France and the United States). The Irish response to the war will be examined in relation to the emotionally and politically charged coverage of the conflict provided by the nation’s main newspapers, i.e. the Irish Times and the Irish Independent, as this material sheds much needed light on the manner in which the press became a tool for the manipulation of Irish Catholic and Protestant communities. This approach will be complemented by an overview of selected archival records, propaganda posters and cartoons, photography, film, memoirs and literary sources to help us to understand the reasons behind key phenomena, such as the current admiration for the Irishmen who joined the Connolly Column in the fight against Franco’s forces and the almost complete absence of references to those who had enlisted in Eoin O’Duffy’s Irish Brigade in contemporary public discourse.

Dates Schedule Time Venue/Location Fee €
04 Mar 2020 to 22 Apr 2020 Sessions: 8
Time: 11.00 - 13.00
Mar 4, 11, 18, 25,
Apr 1, 8, 15, 22
11:00 National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin 2


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Duration: 8 Wednesday

Time: 11.00 - 13.00


Mar 4, 11, 18, 25,

Apr 1, 8, 15, 22

For an excellent discussion of the Spanish Civil War and the Republican years that preceded the conflict, please read: - Julián Casanova, The Spanish Republic and the Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2010).

For insightful and very detailed analyses of Ireland and the Spanish Civil War, please read either one of the books listed below:

- Fearghal McGarry, Irish Politics and the Spanish Civil War (Cork University Press, 1999).

- Robert A. Stradling, The Irish and the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939: Crusades in Conflict (Manchester University Press, 1999).

Those interested in reading texts that centre solely on the Civil War should consider any of the following books:

- George Esenwein, The Spanish Civil War: A Modern Tragedy (Routledge, 2005).

- Helen Graham, The Spanish Civil War: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2005).

- Stanley Payne, The Spanish Civil War (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

- Paul Preston, The Spanish Civil War. Reaction, Revolution & Revenge (W.W. Norton & Co., 2007).

- Francisco J. Romero Salvadó, The Spanish Civil War: Origins, Course and Outcomes (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).

Those interested in a military history of the Spanish Civil War might consider reading:

- Antony Beevor, The Battle for Spain: The Spanish Civil War 1936-1939 (W&N, 2006).

Dr Tedaldi holds a PhD in Modern European History. Her main area of expertise is Cultural History. Her research focuses on the political and media debate surrounding the introduction of 'memory legislation' in Italy and Spain. Since completing her doctorate, she has been the recipient of two IRC post-doctoral fellowships and has worked as Senior Tutor, Occasional Lecturer and Assistant Professor in the School of History at University College Dublin.

The course will encourage students to reflect on the importance of key factors such as the growing appeal of authoritarianism in the inter-war years, charismatic leadership, the demonisation of the enemy, along with the belief that a ‘holy war’ needed to be fought, and to examine the impact that such factors may have on combatants and civilians. The main topics that will be covered are:

1) The ‘Two Spains’ after the Loss of the Empire;

2) The Second Republic;

3) The Coup;

4) The Internationalisation of the Conflict;

5) Irish Reactions to the Conflict: The Irish Brigade and Connolly Column;

6) Franco, Faith and Falangism;

7) Nationalist Spain and the Annihilation of the ‘Enemy’;

8) Making Sense of Fratricidal Violence

1. Evaluate the impact of short, medium and long-term social, economic, political and cultural factors on the events that led to the Spanish Civil War;

2. Explain the international relevance of the Spanish Civil War and why some sectors of the Irish populace were willing to fight in it;

3. Demonstrate an understanding of why the Spanish Civil War, as well as the experiences of those who joined the Rebels and the International Brigades, continue to elicit interest so many decades after the end of this conflict;

4. Engage with primary and secondary sources in a critical manner

Weekly sessions will consist of an interactive lecture (i.e. students will be encouraged to ask questions and contribute anecdotes, if they have any that they wish to share with their peers), followed by a seminar. Weekly lectures will provide overviews of weekly topics, with a focus on key historical trends, debates and events and why they are relevant to Ireland. Weekly seminars will consist of task-based learning methods using both secondary and primary sources related to the weekly topic. Autonomous learning is highly encouraged (see the recommended reading options), although no mandatory readings will be assigned. Student-led debate and discussion of the concepts and materials examined in class will be welcomed.