Subscription appeals for Irish newspapers, part 2

The Joseph P. Tumulty papers at the Library of Congress contain a folder labeled “Support for Ireland.” Among other items it contains subscription solicitations for two newspapers: The Irish Statesman and The Irish Press. Details about the Statesman found in part 1 of this post .

Discussion of the 1930 solicitation letter for the Irish Press, below, must note this newspaper was the Dublin daily published from September 1931 until May 1995; not the same-name weekly published in Philadelphia from March 1918 until May 1922. Irish republican leader Éamon de Valera was the driving force behind the Irish paper, which he tried to finance with funds from the 1920 Irish bond drive in America. The bond was promoted by the earlier Irish Press, which had direct ties to Sinn Féin separatists fighting to establish the Irish Republic. The Philly weekly sided with de Valera, then touring the United States, in the bitter split among Irish republicans in America.

Once the 1921 treaty with the United Kingdom was accepted, the new Irish Free State filed a lawsuit to collect $6 million in bond funds still held in America. De Valera and other Irish republicans counter sued for the money. The matter dragged through U.S. courts until 1927. Finally, the New York Supreme Court ruled the money should be returned to the original bond subscribers. That’s when de Valera began his effort to encourage the bond holders to sign over their returns to help him launch the new Irish Press.

The main appeal of the enterprise, as seen in the letter above, was to free Ireland from the “mental bondage” of British newspapers. But the paper also would become a powerful tool for de Valera’s political ambitions. U.S. journalist, author, and social activist Charles Edward Russell chaired the American committee assisting De Valera’s effort. Another committee member, Chicago lawyer John F. Finerty, had litigated the bond case on behalf of the Irish leader and active in the de Valera-created American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic.

Another ally, Joseph McGarrity, who published the first Irish Press, suggested that De Valera try to interest newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst in establishing a new paper in Ireland, according to David McCullagh. “A Hearst newspaper would be sympathetic to de Valera’s politics–but it would be out of his control. No more was heard of the idea.”[1]David McCullagh, De Valera, Vol. 1, Rise 1882-1932.[Dublin: Gill Books, 2017.] 397.

The Pittsburgh Press, Feb. 22, 1930.

The newspaper effort brought De Valera back to America several times between 1927 and 1930. He visited numerous big city papers to inspect press equipment and develop a roster of potential editors. But his main mission, McCullagh says, was to learn how to keep both financial and editorial control of the newspaper that finally debuted in 1931.

The story of the Irish Press American Corporation, incorporated in Delaware, and the parent company in Dublin, is long and convoluted. The effort was hampered by the crash of the U.S. economy, the Great Depression. Details of how many shares were turned over, and how much money was raised, are disputed. “However, it is safe to conclude that the fundraising operation in the United States fell short of the total set for it,” David Robbins wrote in his 2006 thesis.[2]David Robbins, “The Irish Press, 1919-1948, Origins and Issues.” MA in Communications theses, Dublin City University, June 2006.

It is unclear in Tumulty’s papers at the Library of Congress whether he ever subscribed to the Irish Statesman or the Irish Press. The subscription return forms are blank, but could be a additional copy of forms that he completed and returned.

References

References
1 David McCullagh, De Valera, Vol. 1, Rise 1882-1932.[Dublin: Gill Books, 2017.] 397.
2 David Robbins, “The Irish Press, 1919-1948, Origins and Issues.” MA in Communications theses, Dublin City University, June 2006.

Subscription appeals for two Irish newspapers, part 1

I’ve been reviewing the Joseph P. Tumulty papers at the Library of Congress, mostly correspondence from his work as secretary (chief of staff) to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. I also viewed a post-White House folder labeled “Support for Ireland.” Among other items, it contained subscription solicitations for two newspapers: The Irish Statesman and The Irish Press. Details of the former begin below the image. I’ll write a separate post about the latter.

Note the incorporation of the Irish Statesman with the previously established Irish Homestead. Sir Horace Plunkett founded the latter agricultural journal in 1895. Poet and painter George William Russell, known as AE, joined the effort, first as a contributor, later as editor until the Homestead folded in 1918. Plunkett also published an earlier iteration of the Statesman in 1919-1920 as the official organ of his Irish Dominion League, which favored keeping Ireland within the British Empire rather than a separate southern state and partitioned north.

Plunkett remained a director and contributor to the new Statesman, with Russell named as the editor. The weekly’s editorial philosophy considered the Irish in Ireland as one people, regardless of the 1921 partition. The “15th September” referenced in the brochure was the journal’s first issue in 1923. The brochure also boasted the Statesman‘s roster of contributors:

A subscription to the Statesman cost $4 annually, or 10 cents per copy, in America. The journal’s debut received limited attention in the U.S. press. In Wisconsin, a Capital Times editorial praised the its efforts to find “a just balance between the interests of rural and urban communities” to be “worth emulating” in the American Middle West.[1]”The Irish-Statesman And Our Farmer-Labor Problem”, The Capital Times, Madison, Wisc., Oct. 12, 1923. The 1920 U.S. Census had revealed for the first time that more Americans lived in cities than rural areas. In heartland states like Wisconsin, the fledgling Farmer-Labor Party attempted to make common cause among agricultural and industrial workers who had suffered in the First World War economy.

In Miami, Florida, hardly a hub of Irish America, the Herald praised Russell, insisting his talents ensured the new paper would be “read all over Europe and America,” according to the unbylined op-ed. “It has the same power that any small country paper has anywhere in America, but he has made it the voice of a race and of a chaotically struggling people, which is of tremendous significance.”[2]No headline, A8 editorial page, The Miami Herald, Oct. 28, 1923.

Back in Ireland, the outlook of the Taum Herald (County Galway) was less optimistic. “Being thoughtful, giving food for reflection, it is not likely we fear, to be too popular in a community where so little serious thinking is being done, and it is because we know and appreciate its good qualities and merits that we dread its ultimate success.”[3]No headline, page 2, The Taum Herald, Sept. 29, 1923. The Statesman lasted for only seven years.

“The paper bids farewell to its readers’ because—and only because—the people in Ireland who are prepared to back their opinion of its merit with a weekly payment of threepence, are not sufficiently numerous to give reasonable hope of its becoming even approximately self-supporting,” Plunkett wrote when the journal folded April 12, 1930. The weekly “finally succumbed to the apathy of the Irish reading public,” professor of Irish literature Frank Shovlin later concluded.[4]Frank Shovlin, “The Irish Statesman, 1923-1930” in The Irish Literary Periodical 1923–1958, [Kiribati: Clarendon Press, 2003].

The 1923-1930 run of the Statesman is available at the Library of Congress. The National Library of Ireland holds numerous resources related to the paper, including Edward Doyle Smith’s 1966 Survey And Index of the Statesman, with an extensive discussion about Russell.

NEXT: The Irish Press

References

References
1 ”The Irish-Statesman And Our Farmer-Labor Problem”, The Capital Times, Madison, Wisc., Oct. 12, 1923.
2 No headline, A8 editorial page, The Miami Herald, Oct. 28, 1923.
3 No headline, page 2, The Taum Herald, Sept. 29, 1923.
4 Frank Shovlin, “The Irish Statesman, 1923-1930” in The Irish Literary Periodical 1923–1958, [Kiribati: Clarendon Press, 2003].

Catching up with modern Ireland

March was a newsy month for Ireland, including the failed constitutional referendum, a sour St. Patrick’s Day visit to the White House, and the shock resignation of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. Here’s some coverage and commentary that has caught my attention:

Varadkar resignation, Harris ascension, Donaldson resignation

Varadkar

The messiah complex: Neither Leo Varadkar, nor anyone else, could be a ‘savior’ of Fine Gael, Fintan O’Toole in The Irish Times (Ireland)

“He was able, articulate and – in the twin crises of Brexit and the Covid pandemic – reassuringly adept. But his great talent was for riding out contradictions, not for resolving them. He managed to walk the line between politician and anti-politician, conservative instincts and an increasingly progressive society. …”

Update 1: The governing Fine Gael has selected Simon Harris as its new leader. There was no opposition to him within the party. At 37, he is set to become Ireland’s youngest taoiseach on April 9; a year younger than Varadkar when he took the job in June 2017. Some are already calling Harris the “TikTok Taoiseach.”

Harris was first elected to the Dáil in 2011 and managed Ireland’s COVID-19 response as minister for education, research and science. He has dismissed calls for a general election before the scheduled contest in March 2025.

Update 2: Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, abruptly resigned March 29 after being charged with sexual offenses. Leaders of the Northern Ireland say the development will not impact the power-sharing government, but it has rocked Irish and British politics.

Reverse reads on referendum result

Ireland’s Snakes of Secularization“, National Catholic Register (USA)

There is a very understandable desire among the faithful in Ireland — and elsewhere — to interpret this month’s rejection by Irish voters of a pair of “woke” constitutional amendments as a decisive Catholic inflection point. According to this narrative, the unexpected and overwhelming rejection of these amendments represents a watershed moment in terms of reversing the tide of secularization that has washed over Irish society in recent decades. Unfortunately, that’s probably untrue. … The hostility of voters toward the progressive inanities expressed by both amendments can’t be taken as a sign that secularism is now generally on the wane in Ireland — or that a concomitant rebirth of Catholic faith is broadly underway.

Ireland and the terrible truth about wokeness“, Spiked (England)

Ireland has become hyper-woke. Its elites are fully converted to the gender cult. They promote the ruthless policing of ‘hate speech’, which really means dissent. They damn as ‘far right’ anyone who raises a peep of criticism about immigration. Their culture war on the past is relentless. Woke is the state religion of Ireland now. And if you thought Catholic Ireland was sexist, irrational and illiberal, just wait until you see what wokeness unleashes. … The irony is too much: in ostentatiously distancing themselves from bad old religious Ireland, the elites have created a system of neo-religious dogmas that makes the Catholic era seem positively progressive in comparison.

Green (and blue) at the White House

Biden

Can the Irish Get Biden to Change His Policies on Gaza?, New York (USA)

Many of the actual Irish — the ones who came over from Éire for this annual celebration of the shamrock diaspora — spent the afternoon trying to talk sense to Biden over his Gaza policies, and his confounding (to them) support of Israel’s relentless military response to Hamas. … The Irish have a long-held kinship with the Palestinians. They see parallels between their struggle against Israel and the Irish struggle against British rule. They see in the famine that is gripping Gaza today a tragic echo of their own. This has been true for decades, but never more so than now. … So just beneath all the stout suds, these were the fault lines on display at Biden’s St. Patrick’s Day party this year: his assumption that the Irish were his friends and that so were the Israelis. But it’s no longer so easy to be both.

Three more stories:

  • Britain is appealing a ruling against its Legacy Act, which gives amnesty to ex-soldiers and militants involved in Northern Ireland’s “Troubles.” Victims’ families have challenged the law, and a Belfast court in February ruled it breached human rights. The Irish government is separately contesting the law before the European Court of Human Rights.
  • Rose Dugdale, who left a life of wealth to become a partisan activist fighting for Irish independence in the 1970s, died in Dublin, aged 82.
  • The Central Statistics Office launched the Women and Men in Ireland Hub, ” which features data from the CSO and other public sources broken down into six main themes: Gender Equality, Work, Education, Health, Safety & Security and Transport.

“Reporter vs. reporter” reprised

I’m reprising my “Reporter vs. reporter” series, below, while I work on a few other projects. This series details the 1920 feud between American journalists Carl Ackerman of the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and Charles Grasty of The New York Times, as they covered the war in Ireland. Happy to hear from readers with additional information. Enjoy. MH

Ackerman

Grasty

Part 1, President’s envoy?

Part 2, London confrontations

Part 3, Irish-American reaction

Part 4, Behind the scenes

St. Patrick’s Day 1924 in the U.S. press: serious to saccharine

UPDATE: The Washington Post describes how Irish anger over Gaza may make for a tense White House St. Patrick’s Day at this year’s bilateral gathering. The New York Times explains “the deep roots of Ireland’s support for Palestinians.”

ORIGINAL POST:

March 1924 brought the first St. Patrick’s Day in a decade that the Irish were not fighting on the continent or at home; first against the British, then against each other. “We have been loosed from the charted world that preceded the Great War into the trackless jungle that has followed it,” wrote Irish author James Stephens. Below are some examples of how the U.S. press cast the first post-war celebration of Ireland’s patron saint. The content ranged from the serious to the saccharine.

Cosgrave’s message:

Many U.S. papers published Irish President William T. Cosgrave’s call for unity and peace, which was distributed by International New Service. The Irish needed to follow the spirit of St. Patrick to “form our deliberations and regulate our actions so that differences of opinion may always be discussed without rancor, as they may be adjusted without violence,” Cosgrave wrote. He offered the “hand of welcome to our separated countrymen in the northeast.” This referred to the six partitioned counties of Northern Ireland, “which refused to accept the Free State and have an independent government,” the wire service explained. [1]”President Cosgrave Appeals To Irishmen” Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, March 17, 1924, and other papers.

Stephens’ essay:

Irish author James Stephens wrote a column that began: “There is nothing more astonishing than the speed with which Ireland has forgotten her subjection.” Later in the piece, he continued: “To claim that we wish to go our own way implies that we know the way we wish to go and that we are willing and eager to take the path. But we have been loosed from the charted world that preceded the Great War into the trackless jungle that has followed it.”[2]”Sees Wall Of Brass Erected About Ireland”, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, March 17, 1924.

Magazine cover:

March 13, 1924, Life magazine cover by Fred G. Cooper. The issue featured other illustrations related to St. Patrick’s Day, including “Ireland and Peace” by Charles Dana Gibson.

Tumulty’s revision:

Joseph Tumulty, who had been a top aide to former U.S. President Woodrow Wilson, wrote a front-page story for The Boston Globe to rehabilitate Wilson’s reputation among the Irish. Wilson had died six weeks earlier, aged 67, after years of illness and paralysis from an October 1919 stroke. He had ostracized Tumulty near the end of his life in a political dispute.

Wilson favored home rule for Ireland up until the start of the First World War. But he became increasingly agitated with Irish republicans from the 1916 Easter Rising through the 1919 Paris peace conference. He especially resented the efforts of John Devoy, Daniel Cohalan, and other Irish American activists to scuttle the League of Nations.

Tumulty waved off the division:

The only disparity of opinion between Woodrow Wilson and those who ardently advocated for Ireland’s freedom in this country was as the method of approaching this great goal. It was the case of different men seeing the same thing in a different way and approaching a settlement of it from different angles. … He did not feel himself openly to espouse the cause of Ireland for, to have done so might have added difficulties to an already chaotic world situation.[3]”Wilson Ideals Freed Ireland”, The Boston Globe, March 17, 1924.

Coolidge’s draw:

At the White House, U.S. President Calvin Coolidge made the first draw of the 23-nation Davis Cup lawn tennis tournament. He picked Ireland, “much to the amusement of those gathered for the ceremony, who immediately recalled that today was St. Patrick’s Day,” according to a wire service report. Ireland lost its match against France, played in Dublin later that year.

St. Patrick’s platitudes:

But the most common content found in American newspapers were saccharine poems, prose, and party ideas about St. Patrick and the Irish. The full-page newspaper display below is from the fantastically named Unterrified Democrat of Osage County, Missouri. The American contributors include Mary Graham Bonner, an author of children’s books; Willis F. Johnson, a New York Tribune and North American Review editor and author; and Blanche Elizabeth Wade, a poet and author.

Double click the image for closer viewing. You will not find anything related to the previous decade of trouble in Ireland.

Page of St. Patrick’s Day content in Unterrified Democrat (Osage County, Missouri), March 13, 1924.

References

References
1 ”President Cosgrave Appeals To Irishmen” Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal, March 17, 1924, and other papers.
2 ”Sees Wall Of Brass Erected About Ireland”, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News, March 17, 1924.
3 ”Wilson Ideals Freed Ireland”, The Boston Globe, March 17, 1924.

On marriage, family, and the Irish constitutional referendum

UPDATE: Both referendum questions were defeated by margins of nearly 3-to-1, an embarrassment for the coalition government that put forward the measures. The Irish Times editorialized: “The timing was rushed, the rationale unclear, the propositions confusing and the campaigning lackluster. It was an accident waiting to happen.” Whether the outcome is merely a botched one-off or indicates a conservative turn from the progressivism of the past two decades remains to be seen. I’ll have more analysis in a future post as Ireland now prepares for a general election in 2025. MH

ORIGINAL POST:

My maternal grandparents were married 100 years ago this week at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Pittsburgh. They are seated in the wedding photo below, joined by five siblings of both families. All seven emigrated from Kerry between 1910 and 1921. Other members of both families remained in Ireland.

The newlyweds welcomed six children over the next eight years, all of them girls. My mother, 93, is the only survivor.

I remember these relations ahead of the March 8 referendum on proposed language changes in the Republic of Ireland’s 1937 Constitution. One measure would include “other durable relationships” beyond marriage; another eliminates language about women’s “life within the home.”

The language about women was controversial 87 years ago. The conservative influence of the Roman Catholic Church on the constitution was and is a target of secularists and progressives.

I will report the referendum results as they become available. Until then, an affectionate nod to my traditionally married grandparents and their families, which the Irish Constitution describes as “the natural primary and fundamental unit group of Society.” That language will remain in place regardless of the referendum outcome.

Nora Ware and Willie Diggin, seated. Standing, left to right, John Ware, Mary Diggin, Michael Diggin, Bridget Ware and Annie Diggin. March 4, 1924. (Thank you JVS for the restored photo.)

The Lartigue monorail’s 1888 opening–illustrated

In about the same time that it takes to read this sentence, I could take a photo (or short video) by tapping my smart phone, upload the image and a few words of description to any of several social media platforms, and publish the content for viewing on a similar device or computer nearly anyplace in the world. Just … like … that.

Images and words did not move as quickly on Leap Year Day 1888, when the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway opened between the two County Kerry towns. The 9.5-mile, elevated single-track system–a monorail–came to be known by the surname of its inventor, Charles Lartigue. It would operate through October 1924.

It took a month for illustrations and descriptions of the Lartigue to reach U.S. newspaper readers in 1888. The words and images appeared from late March until June, often edited to say the service opened “a few days ago,” but occasionally citing the unusual Feb. 29 date.

The three-image display above is from the April 7, 1888, issue of The Daily American, Nashville, Tennessee. The images first appeared March 10, 1888, in the The Illustrated London News[1]Image on page 246; story on previous page.

An accompanying story in the Tennessee paper was attributed to the London Standard. A different story, most likely from another British paper, appeared in the Chicago Tribune, St. Louis Globe-Democrat, Indianapolis (Indiana) Journal, Savannah (Georgia) Morning News, Sunday News-Leader of Wilkes-Berra, Pennsylvania, among other U.S. papers. The content in a few cases was attributed the New York Graphic.[2]The New York Graphic most likely was The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper, published from 1873 to 1889. It should not to be confused with the New York Evening Graphic, published from … Continue reading

Several U.S. papers published the signalman image (above, bottom right), typically cropped in a single column square. A similar-sized illustration of the Lartigue’s twin-boiler steam locomotive and pannier-style passenger carriages also appears in the displays of several papers. It is enlarged below for easier viewing.

This “railway and train” image was not from The Illustrated London News. Other illustrations of the Lartigue circulated in popular periodicals until black and white photographs of the monorail became widely available before the end of the century. The British Strand magazine featured eight photos with an 1898 story written by William Shortis, the Ballybunion station manager. Robert French of the William Lawrence studios in Dublin photographed the line, though the precise date of his assignment to Kerry is unclear.

Black and white moving images of the Lartigue were captured by the British Pathé newsreel company. Its “Along the Line” film is inexplicably dated to 1931–seven years after the monorail was discontinued and scrapped. I’ll have more on the Lartigue closing in October.

As I’ve written earlier, the quirky Lartigue provides a perfect movie opportunity for the eccentric styles of film directors Wes Anderson or the Coen brothers.

This illustration is taken from the Lartigue Museum in Listowel, Kerry. Date and original source unknown.

References

References
1 Image on page 246; story on previous page.
2 The New York Graphic most likely was The Daily Graphic: An Illustrated Evening Newspaper, published from 1873 to 1889. It should not to be confused with the New York Evening Graphic, published from 1924 to 1932, or a London weekly published under several variations of the Graphic banner from 1869 until the 1930s.

Irish immigrants and the press in key U.S. metros, 1920

The 1920 U.S. Census counted just over 1 million Irish immigrants. About 8 of every 10 were concentrated in seven states: New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California. Most of the immigrants and their American-born families clustered in and around major cities, which were robust with daily newspapers and other periodicals.

In 1920, nearly 40 percent of the 2,300 dailies in America were published in the same seven states, according to the N. W. Ayer & Son’s annual directory. Nearly a dozen Irish-interest weeklies were published in key metros such as New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco.

The snapshot below was developed from these two sources. It is part of my ongoing exploration of American Reporting of Irish Independence. (Double click the images to enlarge.)

Guest post: John Bruton (1947-2024), an appreciation

Dublin historian and former public servant Felix M. Larkin’s last contribution to this site was about ‘Periodicals and journalism in twentieth-century Ireland‘, two volumes of essays co-edited with Mark O’Brien. Larkin is the author of ‘Living with History: occasional writings’, among other works. MH

***

John Bruton, who died on Feb. 6, 2024, was one of the most significant figures in Irish public life for more than 50 years. He was taoiseach from December 1994 to June 1997, and the European Union’s ambassador to the United States from 2004 to 2009.

Bruton’s book

In 2015 Bruton published a collection of essays entitled Faith in Politics. The pieces ranged widely over politics, economics, history, and religion. Included in the last category was a paper he gave at the 2012 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, in which he reflected on the “added value” that Christians can bring to politics. He concluded that paper by saying that “no Christian, and Catholics in particular, should be afraid to bring their beliefs into the public square”. This is today an unfashionable idea in an increasingly secular Ireland, but Bruton never shrank from writing and speaking against the grain of the prevailing consensus.

Also unfashionable was his defense of the constitutional nationalist tradition in Irish history. John Redmond, the long-time leader of the Irish party at Westminster, was his great hero. In a seminal address in the Royal Irish Academy in 2014, reproduced in his book, he argued that “the 1916 Rising was a mistake” and left us with a baleful legacy of political violence. He feared that our continued commemoration of the Rising ran the risk of “saying that killing and dying is something that will be remembered by future generations, but patient peaceful achievements will be quietly forgotten”.

Elsewhere in his book he expressed concern about what he saw as the “higher level of skepticism about politicians nowadays”, but his “faith in democratic, constitutional politics” was absolute – hence the title of his book. His steadfast defense of constitutional politics both today and in the past is perhaps his greatest legacy to his fellow countrymen. I am proud to have known him.

***

Journalists, historians, authors, researchers, and travelers to Ireland are welcome to offer guest contributions. Submissions are generally from 500 to 1,000 words, with an accompanying photo or graphic. Use the contact form on the Guest Posts page, where you can see earlier contributions.