13 April 2006 Edition

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International: Basque Country and Ireland

Many people do not know that each Easter Sunday, inspired by the 1916 Easter Rising, Basque nationalists celebrate Aberri Eguna (The Day of Basque Fatherland).

It is very much the story of a family, the Gallastegi, of Basque nationalist tradition who, during the Spanish Civil War, had to leave the Basque Country and came to live in Ireland. At the beginning of the confrontation between the lawful government of the Spanish Republic and the rebel forces of fascist general Francisco Franco, the then existing Basque Nationalist Party supported the Republican forces in exchange for devolution. However, Franco´s forces took Bilbao in 1937, after the terrible Nazi bombardment of the village of Gernika, home of the traditional government of the Basque people.

It was then that businessman, Gallastegi, later to become better known as Gudari (Basque soldier) decided to bring his family to Ireland. Gallastegi had already close links with the country, as he had established a trade business between Dublin and Bilbao to help to break the economic boycott imposed by the British government after the creation of the Republic. The young Gallastegi family came to live in Meath´s Gaeltacht, his sons were educated in UCD and his two daughters married Irish men.

During his time in Ireland, Gudari came to know the story of the Easter Rising, and inspired by the bravery and honour of the Irish revolutionaries, proposed that the Basque National Day should be celebrated on that same date, Easter Sunday, to honour Connolly, Pearse and the others. So on Easter Sunday, two countries and two traditions of freedom struggle draw even closer to each other. Basque and Irish join together in the common desire for freedom and independence.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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