28 February 2008 Edition

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Bogtrotters in Spain

Jack Jones, Bob Doyle and Gervasio Puerta

Jack Jones, Bob Doyle and Gervasio Puerta

THE ‘TI Bogtrotters’, a hill-walking group initiated in 2000 by members of Tar Isteach, a republican ex-prisoners’ group based in Dublin, recently visited Spain  to join the commemorations for the International Brigades and especially the Irish who fell in the battle of Jarama during the Spanish Civil War. Here GAY CLEARY recounts the group’s adventure.

THE Bogtrotters and friends joined a large group from Tyrone and other parts of Ireland. At the foot of an impressive monument, located on that battlefield from long ago, they mixed with others of many different nationalities. All had come to honour the memory of these brave volunteers who fell at Jarama 70 years ago.
It was a lovely sunny morning as the walkers headed off behind a flag bearer on what was to be a three-hour tour of the battlefield.
Some of the walk was on good roads but most was on dusty tracks, while some walkers preferred to cross open ground in search of war souvenirs.
The first stop was in the area where Charlie Donnelly from County Tyrone was killed, and a number of short speeches were made and a minute’s silence was observed. As we then moved on along a track, a number of very rousing songs broke out, which really made our day.
We then arrived at the area known as ‘Suicide Hill’, where Kit Conway fell. Even today there are many signs of battle still strewn about this wild terrain. More short speeches, more singing and then off again cross-country towards a road.
After a short detour to where the fascist lines were, we then headed back to the memorial and a short ceremony with two of the remaining Brigadistas, Jack Jones and Bob Doyle. They were joined by Gervasio Puerta.
After the walk we all retreated to Mesón el Sid, in the town of Morata de Trajuna, and treated ourselves to a fine Spanish-style meal (with wine, of course!) Later, presentations were made to Bob and Jack and a bodhrán was presented to Seve, the hard-working organiser who joyfully treated us to a short blast.
The next day we attended a ceremony in the Cultural Centre El Madrono. Later, in the party hall, we partook of more locally prepared food and wine.
That same evening our group went their separate ways, while some enjoyed their last day touring around Madrid and sampling some of what this great city has to offer, others headed north for a few days in the Basque Country.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1

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