Patrick O’Daire was born on 22nd May 1905, the Glenties (Na Gleannta) a village in the northwest of Ireland in central CountyDonegal. Although very young at the time, he had played a part in the last stages of the Irish War of Independence by serving in the IRA and then as a sergeant in the Free State army during the Civil War.
Having been forced to emigrate to Canada in 1929, he became active in the worker’s movement there, serving a sentence of 15 months hard labour in Saskatchewan for his activities. On his release he was deported on release to England. There, he joined the Communist Party in Bootle in 1934, and worked in the building trade.
He arrived in Spain on 5 December 1936. Whilst with Irish volunteers on the Cordova front, he was wounded at Lopera. In the course of the Spanish war he developed into an outstanding military leader.
Paddy retained fond memories of the Donegal highlands, as his troops dubbed him ‘the man from the mountains’. He became commander of the British Battalion in August-September 1937, and an officer in the 20th Battalion of the International Brigade. By 1938, he was "Director of Operations" of the XV Brigade.
In World War II, he joined the British Army in the fight against Hitler as a private. In 1939, along with other IB veterans, he volunteered for a dangerous experiement, conducted by JBS Haldane. This involved the earlier sinking of the British submarine Thetis with 99 lives lost off Liverpool. The volunteers spent time in a simulated compressor to copy the effects of being in a sunken submarine.
O’Daire would rise to the rank of Major by the time of his demobilisation. After the war he settled firstly in Birmingham, later retiring to Wales, where he died in 1981.
Sources include: Michael O’Riordan "Connolly Column" (1979) and GS personal knowledge