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Jim Carmody, the unsung hero of IB research

Jim Carmody in 2007
Jim Carmody in 2007

When Paul Preston was promoting his monumental study of atrocities committed during (and after) the Spanish Civil War, Spanish Holocaust, he took pains to point out how much his book had depended on the efforts of other researchers and historians, many of them amateurs, who had dedicated huge amounts of their time and energy into collating accounts of murders within their particular localities. All historians depend on the work of others. Many are published historians themselves, but others are not. A look through the acknowledgements in numerous works published in Britain over the last thirty years on the International Brigades and the Spanish Civil War will show the truth of this. In almost every work one comes across the same name, time and time again. That name is Jim Carmody.

I first met Jim in 1996, when I was an M.A. student at the University of London. He was sitting in a quiet corner of the Marx Memorial Library, working methodically through lists of volunteers from the International Brigades, trying to collate them all into one universal list. Using documents from archives in London, Salamanca, Moscow and beyond, Jim eventually established a record-card index of volunteers from Britain and Ireland to which all historians refer.

It was, in some respects, his life’s work. Over the last thirty years very few weeks have gone by without Jim ringing to tell me, in his distinctive Belfast accent, of the latest nugget of information he’d found, often in some obscure out of print book, or distant local newspaper. His diligence and meticulous attention to detail have become legendary, not just in the UK, but also in Spain, the US and in many other countries besides. For the last few years he has become the researcher and archivist for the International Brigade Memorial Trust, answering queries with a generosity that has earned him widespread gratitude and admiration. A stubbornly modest man, Jim has never written a book, never written so much as an article, but his expertise and encyclopaedic knowledge have been invaluable.

Sadly, for many years Jim has been beset with numerous health problems, the result of an accident on a building site in his youth. On Wednesday 3 August 2016, following an extended stay in hospital, his long struggle finally came to an end. Jim, you were a great friend and an amazing fount of knowledge. You will be sorely missed.

 

Rather than asking for flowers, the family have set up a donations page, for anyone who wishes to remember Jim by supporting the British Liver Trust.

Comments

Paul Carmody
Reply

Dear Richard;
Thank you for the kind words, although I never really could comprehend my Dads involvement in the research during my early years. I have over the past 10 or so began to understand and appreciate his involvement. My eldest son has taken a close interst and him and my Father shared many discussions. I am in the process of sorting out my Dads arrangements etc. I will be in contact regarding research items etc – and of course the Funeral arrangements. We will be having a small Family ceremony at the Church in Hammersmith. My e-mail address is below and my Mobile number is 07917 – 732-109. If you could possibly advise any other people who may need to be advised from within the IBMT group etc, we would appreciate that and if we could be copied in omn any messages etc .
Thank you and regards.

Paul Carmody

Raymond Hoff
Reply

What a tremendous loss. When I came across a name in Robert Merriman’s diaries, likely as not, Jim would be the one who would recognize it and set me on the right path.

A gracious and altruistic researcher and he will be greatly missed. The families of Brigadistas owe him a lot.

RORY O BRIEN
Reply

Never met the man, unfortunately. You kind of assume these guys will be around forever because their contribution is so important. But alas Time waits for no one

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