Homage to Catalonia – in Edinburgh

Their call was a cry of anguish from the hearts of the people of Spain

Some paid with their lives it is true, their sacrifice was not in vain

Perhaps you have walked past the memorial stone many times without noticing.  On Thursday 2 April  Daniel Gray  hopes to bring new visibility to a modest monument in Princes Street Gardens 70 years after the ending of the Spanish Civil War. Scotland’s part in the fight will be commemorated in the gardens during the day and celebrated as part of the Ceilidh Culture festival at night.

[Updated January 2020 – Leith Open Space is grateful to Finn Hayden for letting us know that the original Ceilidh Culture website link in this blogpost of 11 years ago no longer relates to the festival. Ceilidh Culture Festival is still going strong and is mentioned in the Tartan Blog listing the best ceilidhs in Scotland.]

Local people are invited to join the daytime event  at 12.30pm. “Feel free to bring flowers in the red, yellow and purple of the Spanish republic Scots lost their lives fighting for,” says Daniel Gray,   “In particular, we want to make sure the monument is noticeable to a generation unaware of its existence.”

SPANISH CIVIL WAR MEMORIAL

TO HONOUR THE MEMORY OF THOSE WHO WENT FROM THE LOTHIANS AND FIFE TO SERVE IN THE WAR IN SPAIN 1936 – 1939

NOT TO A FANFARE OF TRUMPETS_NOR EVEN THE SKIRL O’ THE PIPES_NOT FOR THE OFF’R OF A SHILLING_NOR TO SEE THEIR NAMES UP IN LIGHT_THEIR CALL WAS A CRY OF ANGUISH_FROM THE HEARTS OF THE PEOPLE OF SPAIN_SOME PAID WITH THEIR LIVES IT IS TRUE_THEIR SACRIFICE WAS NOT IN VAIN

Erected By The International Brigade Association.

Daniel Gray is author of Homage to Catalonia which tells the stories of the remarkable number of Scots – from Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Kirkcaldy and the Highlands – who made their way across the Pyrenees to fight against fascism, defying the UK government ban on support for either side.  Perhaps equally remarkable during that other age of depression was the fundraising back home to support the Spanish cause.

A curator in the National Library of Scotland (and, by the way, a resident of Leith), Daniel has given lectures on Scotland’s involvement in the Spanish Civil War, across the country.  During April he will be travelling round Scotland again as he takes part in events around Scotland rededicating memorials and rekindling memories of the fallen.

He writes and speaks with passion and a sense of urgency.  “April 2nd 1939 represented the beginning of a new stage in the fight against fascism.  It is a fight first waged yesterday that must be continued today.  Where Scotland’s 549 International Brigaders fought Mussolini and Hitler, the present struggle is against the fascism of the BNP.”

From 8pm on Thursday, as part of the Ceilidh Culture festival, there will be a night of songs and stories about Scotland’s Spanish cause at the Pleasance.  Folk troubadours and Glasgow band The Wakes will join Daniel Gray to pay Homage to Caledonia.

The daytime event will be chaired by local city councillor Gordon Munro who says, “The aim is to form a committee to mark this day every year in Edinburgh.”

Other dates in the diary of events:

  • Saturday 4 April – rededication of Kircaldy Brigadiers memorial
  • Tuesday 21 April – lunchtime fringe meeting at the STUC conference in Perth
  • Thursday 23 April – 7.30pm talk on the Spanish Civil War, Hamilton Library
  • Thursday 27 August – Edinburgh Book Festival

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