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Some famous Irish communists
Having been obliged to emigrate to Canada in 1929, he became active in the workers’ movement there, serving a sentence of fifteen months’ imprisonment with hard labour in Saskatchewan for his activities. On his release he was deported to England. There he worked in the building trade and joined the Communist Party in Bootle, Lancashire, in 1934.
As a volunteer in the 15th International Brigade he arrived in Spain on 5 December 1936. While serving with other Irish volunteers on the Córdoba front he was wounded at Lopera, but in the course of the war he developed into an outstanding military leader. He retained fond memories of the Donegal highlands, and his comrades dubbed him “the man from the mountains.” He became commander of the British Battalion in August–September 1937 and in 1938 director of operations of the 15th International Brigade.
In the Second World War he joined the British army as a private to fight against German fascism. In 1939, with other International Brigade veterans, he volunteered for a dangerous experiment conducted by J. B. S. Haldane, spending time in a simulated compressor to copy the effects of being in a sunken submarine. He would rise to the rank of major by the time of his demobilisation.
After the war O’Daire settled first in Birmingham, later retiring to Wales, where he died in 1981.
[Based on the article by Graham Stevenson.]
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