After the outbreak of civil war in Spain in 1936 there was widespread support in Ireland for the Francoist insurgents rebelling against the Spanish government. The war was largely presented as a fight to preserve the Catholic religion in Spain from the ‘Reds’ or communists. The Irish clergy and groups such as the Irish Christian Front staged rallies all over the country in support of Franco.
Volunteers were sought to form an Irish Brigade to go to Spain. The Brigade was led by Eoin O’Duffy, the first leader of Fine Gael, former commissioner of the Gardaí and former leader of the Blueshirt movement. O’Duffy stated “It is not a conflict between fascism and anti-fascism but between Christ and anti-christ,”.
Around 700 volunteers joined O’Duffy in Spain. The failure of the brigade to distinguish themselves in the field, combined with Spanish exasperation at their indiscipline, led to their eventual repatriation from Spain and ultimately the end of O’Duffy’s political career in Ireland.
John Dorney’s article for the Irish Story covered the conflict here