This memorial stone is situated on the Coalisland to Dungannon road near the townland of Killybrackey. It is dedicated to a remarkable young man called Charlie Donnelly who was born in a house in Killybrackey on the 10th July 1914. Donnelly was a poet and left wing political activist and he died at the battle of Jarama on this day, 27th February 1937 fighting on the side of the Spanish Republic against Franco’s Fascists.
I first became aware of Charlie Donnelly about 25 years ago as a result of reading some articles and books about The Spanish Civil War. Also, being a Christy Moore fan I learnt (and occasionally performed) Moore’s song about the Irish involvement in that struggle “Viva la Quinta Brigada” which mentioned Donnelly from Tyrone in the lyrics. Several years later I attended an excellent lecture delivered to Donaghmore Historical society by local historian and politician Jim Cavanagh. I remember coming away from that talk by Jim convinced that Charlie Donnelly’s life story would make a brilliant film. Joe O’Connor used Donnelly’s description of the Spanish Civil War as the title of his book “Even The Olives Are Bleeding” which Christy Moore echoed in his song. There was for a number of years a “Charlie Donnelly Weekend” sponsored by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council but sadly no longer. I always suspected that the more the local councillors came to know about Donnelly’s radical politics the less they wanted to be identified with him. The stone pictured was placed close to the birth place of Charlie Donnelly
exactly …the more they knew about Donnellys politics the less they they wanted to be identified with him..but the upside of that was they exposed themselves as the reactionary opportunist right wing politicans they were long suspected of been