‘Irish citizens of Basque Origin’. (video)

Ireland’s Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War.

A very interesting talk on Ireland’s Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War was given by Stewart Reddin at Ubh café in Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Saturday, June 16 as part of June Fest.  The cafe was packed out for the talk, with part of the audience having to stand on the stairs.

In his talk Stewart told the extraordinary story of Ireland’s Basque refugees and one man in particular Iker Gallastegi. Who survived two dictatorships, lived in Mexico as a child refugee just months after being born, returned home at five years of age only to be forced to flee again as a ten year old following the fascist bombing of  Gernika.He lived in Ireland as a refugee from 1937 to the 1950s. Iker Passed away on 12th February 2018 peacefully at his home in Algorta aged 91.



3 responses to “‘Irish citizens of Basque Origin’. (video)

  1. Hello Stewart,

    Hope you don’t mind me contacting you through this platform. I have read your article Irish citizens of Basque origin: The story of Ireland’s Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War with great interest. I knew Elias and Margari Gallastegi when I was a child as my mother and I often visited them when they lived in Donibane Lohitzun (St. Jean de Luz). My mother Miren Orrantia was the only woman amongst the group of Basque refugees that arrived in Cobh on the Breton lobster boat in July 1940 In fact the Orrantia family had very close ties with the Gallastegi family. My grandfather Cosme Orrantia was Elias Gallastegi’s good friend and one of the business partners in the Irish Iberian Trading company. He was also among the group of people on the Breton boat.

    After the death of Cosme Orrantia in Bray in March 1944 my mother went to live with the Gallastegi family in Donaghpatrick and stayed with the Gallastegis until July 1946. You mention in your article that Margari spent two weeks in hospital: my mother stayed in Navan hospital with Margari during those two weeks as Margari spoke little English and needed somebody to help her with her English. My mother, by that time, had a good knowledge of the language. Miren was close to the Gallastegi family and even called Margari ama (mother in Basque). Miren Orrantia eventually married Joaquín Eguia (big picture of him in your article!) and they settled in Liverpool. My dad unfortunately died in 1956 but mum lived the rest of her life until 2004 here in Liverpool. My mother told me that she had a special fondness and affection towards the Irish people who treated her and her compatriots so well. She also mentioned that the Irish government was sympathetic to their cause so I was surprised to hear about the attitude of the military intelligence of the Irish Army and their policy of appeasement towards fascist Spain. I’m sure that the Basque refugees were quite unaware that they were under surveillance. It is particularly poignant in relation to my father, Joaquin Eguia, who was desperately seeking employment.

    The information contained in your article has an added interest as for the last three years I have been writing a book about the life of my father in collaboration with Jesus Etxezarraga, a journalist from Bilbao. My father was harbour master of Bilbao and head of the Basque navy during the Spanish Civil War. It has been a lengthy and often difficult process tracking down information about my dad’s professional life. However, I’m pleased to say the first draft is almost completed. I would nevertheless like very much to read the files that G2 has on my father, mother and grandfather and any help in how to go about finding these files would be great. Dublin is not too far from here and I love the Guinness!

    Hope this message finds you.

    Best wishes


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