“Jarama” Film Tribute to Two Irish Lincolns

February 20, 2018
Still from the short "Jarama" film

Still from the short “Jarama” film

This Saturday, February 17, the annual Jarama commemorative march organised by AABI (Asociación de Amigos de las Brigadas Internacionales) began at its customary starting point, from the Rivas Vaciamadrid memorial – erected by FIBI (Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland) – in honor of the Irish poet Charlie Donnelly (1914-1937), of the James Connolly Section of the Abraham Lincoln Battalion.

In February 1937, the Abraham Lincoln Battalion had been thrown into the Battle of Jarama. On 23 February, Donnelly was promoted to company field commander. On 27 February, pinned down on a hill, a Canadian veteran recalled: “We ran for cover, Charlie Donnelly, the commander of an Irish company is crouched behind an olive tree. He has picked up a bunch of olives from the ground and is squeezing them. I hear him say something quietly between a lull in machine gun fire: ‘Even the olives are bleeding’.” Donnelly was hit three times and died instantly, his body later recovered for burial by  Peter O’Connor on 10 March. Peter O’Connor (1912-1999) would be the last surviving Irish Lincoln veteran of the 1937 battles of Jarama and Brunete.

Click here for my ” Song for Charlie Donnelly”, which I would sing at the VALB/ALBA concert in San Francisco in March 2008, that was held following the unveiling of the National Monument to the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

The route of 80th anniversary Jarama march in February of last year had included the Lincoln Battalion positions where Donnelly had been killed in action. Back in Ireland a week later, FIBI would hold a commemorative Charlie Donnelly Weekend School in his native County Tyrone. Both the Jarama and Tyrone 80th anniversary commemorations were attended by ALBA Board Member Nancy Wallach, who paid a floral tribute at the memorial in his birthplace to both Donnelly himself and his comrades-in-arms.

Last year’s commemoration in Rivas Vaciamadrid had also seen the presentation of a short film, by the punk band Boikot, honoring both Donnelly and O’Connor. A clip from that film had previously been posted online, as a video accompanying the release of Boikot’s own song, “Jarama”. This weekend, to mark that battle’s 81st anniversary, the whole film has now been posted online, along with subtitles.

Click here to view “Jarama” in full.

See https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=4z0uOMvXghA for the official video clip used by Boikot for their song “Jarama”, and https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=seRMOsgbCx4 for the Spanish lyrics of that song.