Pat Murphy

Pat Murphy was a volunteer for the Spanish civil war. From his story we were given a brief to create a collaborative body of work in response to text that was provided.

Pat Murphy was one of the first Spanish civil war volunteers to go to Spain to fight against the facist regime. Born in Cardiff in 1897 to the first generation Irish immigrant.  He served in the first world war, and had gained some experience in a war zone. He was outraged by the Pro Franco propaganda, he enlisted at the Cardiff recruitment office for international brigades. He suffered two major injuries during the war, laying him up both times for a few months, but his anarchist convictions kept him going to. He left Cardiff early December 1936 in the midlle the night, unexplained to his wife due to secrecy, and boarded a ship bound for Albacet, Spain to become an anti Fascist fighter with The International Brigade. Having an Irish background Pat ended up fighting with several Irish comrades and regarding his self as fighting for the Irish contingent, he had very similar outlook on politics the Irish volunteers. He was as an “indomitable warrior remaining true to his anarchist convictions.” Fearless in battle, which had very high casualties, he only just survived the war. Unfortunately, he had to be sent home invalided, much to his disappointment, I would have thought. However he still supported his comrades in Spain by sending then letters of encouragement and cigarette supplies.

I wanted to find more out about Pat Murphy. At first I could find anything on Patrick Murphy. I started to question whether or not his first name was actually Patrick. However from further research into the Civil registration, which is records of births, deaths and marriages. I came across a Patrick Keenan Murphy, the dates match up with his birth and death, and also was registered in South Glamorgan.


Record of War Service for WW140584_606246_0910-0020040584_606246_0910-00200

From extensive research, there was not much else that I could find about Pat as a person in reference to the Spanish Civil war. But I did come across some interesting letters spent from other Irish volunteers during the Spanish Civil war. I particular like this exert from a letter written by Padraig de Stannligh to his father

“I came here to fight not only for the Spanish people but for the workers of the world against Fascism, not forgetting O’Duffy and his crowd. If the fascists by any miracle win it would mean first the death knell of democracy throughout the world and the finish of Irish nationalism. That’s why I came over here, because I understood this from the very beginning. In a few month’s time we shall be writing Robert Emmet’s epitaph: ‘When my country takes its rightful place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then let my epitaph be written.’ (Emmet) If James Connolly was alive today and saw what was going on throughout the world, especially in Spain, what would he do? He’d unite all those good Irish fighters, all of them, and he’d shove the fascists into the sea wherever he found them. We’ll do that. And if any of them wash ashore in Dublin Bay let them [know] that no murderers of women and children have a place in the fair land of Eirinn.

The morale of the people here, even to the smallest children, is of the highest. The people smile and welcome you, greet us as their deliverer, and even cry about you when you leave. That is not the way they treat the fascists, and that’s why Franco and his cutthroats will never conquer Spain, nor O’Duffy Ireland. You read in the ‘Irish Independent’ what the Spanish Government is supposed to be doing. But what about Franco and his German and Italian hired assassins and conscripted ‘volunteers’, who are afraid to meet soldiers in the field and sneak behind the lines in their aeroplanes, killing women and children, innocent all of them. This I have seen with my own eyes. We can’t lose, we won’t lose, and when your Pattie comes marching home again he’ll have stories to tell that will put the lie to the things that have been told to the people at home by papers owned by Irish capitalists, fascist liars.”

I think that it shows the political view point that Murphy was fighting for aswell.

After researching we met as a group to discuss what we wanted to produce as a piece together. We came up with an initial concept pretty quickly, we thought that by creating a body of work which encapsulated his initial reasons for joining as a volunteer was a strong way to proceed. Below is a mind map of what we needed create to put into a suitcase which Pat would have possible taken with him. I was going to make his passport and a newspaper article which might have inspired him to go and fight against the fascists. img_3882d650ec3b-1



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