In July 1936, an army-led coup against the democratically elected republican government ushered in the Spanish Civil War. Father Alexander J. McCabe was rector of the Irish College in Salamanca when General Francisco Franco seized power a few months later and established his GHQ in the medieval city.
McCabe recorded the arrival of the nationalist war machine in his diaries, vividly documenting the horror of the repression and his encounters with Franco, Nazi officers and diplomats, British and American spies and journalists, and adventurers and charlatans from around the world who flocked to Salamanca. He also observed the implosion of General Eoin O’Duffy’s ill-fated Irish Brigade, first as one of its chaplains and later mediating between the nationalist high command and O’Duffy. He unsuccessfully attempted to dissuade a disillusioned O’Duffy from returning to Ireland with the Irish Brigade in 1937.
Historian Tim Fanning uses McCabe’s diaries to provide a fascinating account of life in Spain before, during and after the war, as well as McCabe’s memories of growing up in Ireland at a time of momentous change. This is the troubling and enthralling story of an eyewitness to one of the most tragic episodes in twentieth-century European history.
Table of Contents
- The Salamanca Student
- The East End Curate
- The Spanish Cauldron
- The Road to Revolution
- Escape and Return
- The Two Cities
- The Irish Brigade
- Franco Takes Charge
- The Final Battle
- Back Home
Praise for The Salamanca Diaries
‘Tim Fanning’s vividly written account of the extraordinary life of Father Alexander Joseph McCabe is a fascinating contribution to both Spanish and Irish history. McCabe was a perceptive observer of the turbulent politics of Spain in the nineteen thirties. As Rector of the Irish College in right-wing Salamanca during the Civil War, his comments on the politics of the Francoist zone and on the topsy-turvy adventures of General Eoin O’Duffy’s Blue Shirt volunteers are especially valuable.’
Paul Preston, the doyen of historians on the Spanish Civil War
‘I have greatly enjoyed Father McCabe’s War. Ably abetted by the man himself, a gifted and highly observant diarist, Tim Fanning has produced a fascinating account of conditions in Salamanca, Franco’s headquarters, where McCabe was Rector of the Irish College when civil war broke out in 1936. The book is carefully researched, the tale well told, the anecdotes exceptional (not least concerning General O’Duffy). I couldn’t put it down.’
Ian Gibson, biographer of Lorca and of Salvador Dali
‘[A] nuanced and revealing insight into the Irish involvement in Franco’s “crusade” … Tim Fanning’s book does not shy away from painful facts and is to be warmly recommended.’
John Dorney, History Ireland
About the Author
Tim Fanning is a writer and historian with a particular interest in Spain and Latin America. His critically acclaimed first book, The Fethard-on-Sea Boycott, was an Irish bestseller. His most recent book, Paisanos: The Forgotten Irish who Changed the Face of Latin America, which tells the story of the Irish emigrants who fought for Latin American independence, has been published in Irish, Argentinian, Colombian and US editions. He is also a contributor on Spanish and Latin American subjects to The Irish Times and Sunday Independent.