Lehane, Michael (1908–43), socialist, was born 27 September 1908 in Morley's Bridge, Kilgarvan, Co. Kerry. As a teenager he attended Darrara Agricultural College in Clonakilty, Co. Cork; however, economic necessity forced him to give up plans for a career in farming and move to Dublin, where by the mid-1930s he had found work as a builder's labourer. In December 1936 he enlisted in the International Brigade in Spain, where he was among the earliest recruits to the Irish unit led by Frank Ryan (qv). He initially saw action on the Córdoba front, and in January 1936 fought in the battle of Las Rozas de Madrid. Returning to Dublin on leave, he briefly resumed work in the building trade, and as a member of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union took part in the building strike of April 1937. Having re-joined the International Brigade, he was wounded at the battle of Brunete (July 1937). Ryan appears to have been impressed by his bravery and determination; writing home from the brigade's base at Albacete on 30 July, he said of Lehane: ‘He's a great lad. He has been through three weeks of hell and is willing to take more, even just now’ (Cronin,123). After another return visit to Dublin, during which he was engaged on the construction of the Adelphi cinema in Abbey Street, he made a final journey to Spain, and was back among the troops in June 1938 to help organise a commemoration for Theobald Wolfe Tone (qv). He took part in the republican offensive at the Ebro, where on 31 July he was again wounded.
Lehane finally left Spain in December 1938, but his stay in Ireland was brief. The following year he moved to Birmingham, where his brother had settled, and, after recovering from his injuries, again found work on building sites. He remained politically active, and attended the People's Convention in London (January 1941) as a delegate. His association with the newspaper the Daily Worker led to sporadic raids by the police on his brother's home in King's Heath. On the outbreak of the second world war he was determined to support the allied cause, but rather than join the British armed forces he opted instead for the Norwegian merchant navy. He signed up as a fireman–stoker on the Brant County in October 1941, and over the next sixteen months worked in convoys that provided war supplies to the allies from across the Atlantic. On 2 March 1943 the Brant County sailed from Halifax, Nova Scotia; nine days later Lehane was killed when the ship was torpedoed by German submarines. His story was widely reported in the Norwegian media in 1996, after which he was posthumously awarded the Norwegian war medal in 1997.