Hannah Rutledge Ormsby, who was better known as Ruth, was born in Belville, Dromore West in 1901. A qualified nurse, she answered an appeal to travel to Spain in 1936 to tend to wounded Spanish Republicans and members of the International Brigades who were fighting to defend the fledgling Spanish democracy against General Franco’s Fascist rebels. She had survived intense fighting and unimaginable conditions, and in May 1938, Ruth and a colleague found themselves engulfed in a fire in a seventh-floor medical aid apartment block in Barcelona. She tragically died jumping from the building to save her life.
In September 2018, a commemorative plaque was erected to honour the memory of Ruth, who made the ultimate sacrifice in the war against fascism in Europe, the only Irishwoman to die in the Spanish Civil War. The commemoration was led by the Friends of the International Brigades in Ireland (FIBI) and the plaque is set in amongst a stone structure, which features stones that were taken from Ruth’s home in Belville, and also from areas of Spain, including Barcelona where she is now buried. Eddie O’Neill, President of FIBI, said that Ruth Ormsby had “secured her place in the pantheon of Irish women who went out in the world to make a difference”.