Category Archives: History

Ten books for year-end gift giving, or your ‘shelf’

Most of the 10 books described below the photo focus on 19th and early 20th century Irish history. A few were published before this year. One is a first-ever English translation of a German work from 1913; another is an on-demand reissue of a 1922 title. Two books on Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania history are only tangentially about the Irish. Four of the authors are personal acquaintances, marked by *. I hope my readers will support their work. Titles are listed alphabetically and linked to where the books can be ordered online. That convenience notwithstanding, please support small history presses and independent booksellers whenever possible. Enjoy. MH

There’s a mistake in the order of this stack to make you look closer at the list below.

A Journey in Ireland, 1921, Wilfrid Ewart. The author, journalist, and retired British military officer traveled around Ireland for several weeks in spring 1921, shortly before the truce. Unfortunately, his book of experiences wasn’t published until spring 1922, after the treaty and the country’s lurch into civil war. That doesn’t matter as much today. This is a good travel read about Ireland at war, with plenty of passages beyond Dublin and Belfast. I wrote a 10-part blog serial revisiting the people and events Ewart encountered 100 years earlier.

America and The Making of an Independent Ireland, Francis M. Carroll. The book consolidates Carroll’s long career of scholarship on this topic. It “argues that the existence of the state of Ireland is owed to considerable effort and intervention by Irish Americans and the American public at large.” Beginning with the 1916 Rising, the final chapter pushes the story into the early phases of U.S.-Irish relations after partition and the civil war. It compliments Bernadette Whelan’s United States Foreign Policy and Ireland: From Empire to Independence, 1913-29, and Michael Doorley’s Irish-American Diaspora Nationalism: The Friends of Irish Freedom, 1916-1935.

Ireland [1913], Richard Arnold Bermann. Translated from German and edited by Leesa Wheatley and Florian Krobb. The book is a snapshot of Ireland at the start of its revolutionary period and a year before the Great War. In their Introduction, Wheatley and Krobb also note Bermann’s “umbrage … at traces of mass tourism prone to erode the serenity of the autochthonous culture where it might still survive, and the blatant exploitation of visitors by entrepreneurial yet intrusive individuals who offer their services as guides or coach drivers.” See my post, Welcoming American tourists to Ireland, 1913-2021.

Living With History: Occasional Writings, Felix M. Larkin*. A former Irish civil servant, Larkin is one of the 2008 founders of the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland. He has devoted special attention to the late Freeman’s Journal and is a regular contributor to the book review pages of The Irish Catholic and letters to the editor section of The Irish Times, plus more than two dozen academic works. His collection of nearly 100 pieces, ranging from 500 to 5,000 words; sectioned under nine themes, including one on American people and events; are all written for general audiences, Larkin says; and can be read sequentially, or dipped into, set aside, and returned to later with ease. I am honored that Larkin included my 2018 Q & A interview with him.

On the Edge: Ireland’s Offshore Islands, Diarmaid Ferriter. My wife and I have hiked and biked two of the three Aran Islands and look forward to a future visit to Inis Meáin. Until then, Ferriter’s “comprehensive study of Ireland’s offshore islands purposely eschews” the “reverent, patronizing and romantic tone” of earlier “cultural archivists and spiritual dreamers … seeking to understand – or even momentarily become part of – a mystical ancient Celtic society,” The Irish Independent wrote in its 2018 review. “Ferriter avoids single definitions, broad brushstrokes and hyperbole. Primarily because he is a historian who always favors fact, sources and evidence, over subjective opinion; and the great array of archival material he brings to the surface here is a good testament to his dedicated approach to research.”

Politics, Culture, and The Irish American Press 1784-1963, Edited by Debra Reddin van Tuyll, Mark O’Brien, and Marcel Broersma. This collection of 15 pieces “tell a number of important stories and provides invaluable insights about journalism, about Ireland, about America, and about the ethnicity of the Irish in America,” Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall writes in the Forward. It is divided into three sections: the 1700s, the 1800s, and the 1900s. The book covers subjects you’d expect to find: Gillian O’Brien on Margaret Sullivan and Michael Doorley on the Gaelic American; and more obscure stories, such as Colum Kenny on Michael Davitt’s work for William Randolph Hearst, and Mark O’Brien on American influences at the Irish Press–Dev’s Dublin daily, 1931-1955, not his supporters’ earlier Philadelphia weekly, 1918-1922. A welcome addition to any journalism collection.

The Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania: Its Origins, Establishment, Decline, and Resurrection, John C. Bates*. Cork-born Michael O’Connor in 1843 became the first bishop of the new see at Pittsburgh. He built churches, schools, hospitals, and other institutions (He founded the Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper.) as waves of Irish Famine immigrants and poor Catholics from Eastern Europe populated the workforce of America’s most industrialized city. The Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania was created 100 years later to share the church’s history in the region and preserve its records and artifacts. Bates’ detailed reference book documents both efforts, a “history within a history.” I’ve found this book useful in my own research, including this post: Don’t drink: Father Mathew’s temperance tour in Pittsburgh.

The Fall of the Fitzmaurices, Kay Caball*. A professional genealogist and author of the definitive Finding Your Ancestors in Kerry. (She has helped me find relations and other Kerry characters.), Fall tells of the demise of the Fitzmaurice family, who had been powerful Lords of Kerry since 1235. “What could have happened to this Kerry dynasty after almost 500 years of acquisition and expansion, which was then so reduced in such a short space of time?” Caball asked in a late 2020 guest post that previews her book. “We would have to say improvidence, extravagance, careless management, and improvidence.”

The Irish Assassins, Julie Kavanaugh. This new treatment of the 1882 Phoenix Park murders and their aftermath is the most commercially popular title on this list. The Irish Times said, “Kavanagh’s is a sweeping and compelling narrative of a story that more than bears retelling. What she has sought to do, which has not been done before, is to try to connect in time the political and social lives of what is an extended and diverse cast of characters in Britain and Ireland.” Author John Banville’s New York Times review described the book as “an adroit unpicking of the intricacies of the history, and her book is at once admirable for its scholarship and immensely enjoyable in its raciness.”

The Mount Washington Transit Tunnel Disaster, Mary Jane Kuffner Hirt*. On Christmas Eve, 1917, my Kerry-born grandfather was working as a motorman for a Pittsburgh streetcar company. That day, a car in the fleet lost power as it entered the decline of a tunnel. The crash at the other end resulted in a dozen deaths and scores of injuries, still the city’s worst transit disaster. My grandfather was not involved in the episode, but he would have felt the aftershocks of the streetcar company’s bankruptcy in this dark period of the city’s history, eight months after the United States entered World War I and weeks before the outbreak of the 1918 influenza pandemic. Kuffner Hirt’s research is meticulous. My full review in Western Pennsylvania History Magazine.

America’s 1921 relief to Ireland, revisited

Most of my work this year for the American Reporting of Irish Independence section of this blog has focused on the American Committee for Relief in Ireland. The 1921 fund drive provided $5 million to Ireland through summer 1922. Three of the 10 stories below were published outside the blog. Three key relief committee documents are also linked below the photo.

American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921

St. Patrick’s Day, 1921: ‘A Summons to Service’

Cardinal Gibbons, who died 100 years ago, was committed to Ireland, Catholic Review (Baltimore)

American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921

The Pittsburgh fight over 1921 relief to Ireland 

War relief to Listowel and North Kerry, 1921Listowel Connection

‘A duty to their own flesh & blood’

Forgotten Charity Between Ireland and America, 1889 & 1921, The Irish Story

The lawyer, the banker & money to Ireland, fall 1921

Irish visitor thanks America for 1921 financial relief

The American Committee for Relief in Ireland inspecting factory ruins at Balbriggan. Hogan, W. D. (1921).

KEY DOCUMENTS

Ruth Russell in revolutionary Ireland, revisited

Ruth Russell, 1919.

American journalist Ruth Russell reported from Ireland during the early months of the Irish War of Independence. Upon her return to America, she joined a women’s protest against Britain, testified before a special committee exploring conditions in Ireland, and published a book based on her dispatches for the Chicago Daily News.

The five-part monograph below, published in 2019, also explorers earlier and later periods of Russell’s life. I presented my research about her at the American Journalism Historians Association annual conference in Dallas, October 2019; the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland annual conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, November 2019; and at the Irish Railroad Workers Museum in Baltimore, March 2020. Here’s the series:

This sixth post details my effort to add Ruth’s name to the grave in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where she was buried with her sister.

Finally, this ‘Toward America‘ video from the Mná100 website, released in 2021 as part of the Irish government’s Decade of Centenaries program, also included my work on Russell.

Delivering my research at the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland conference at Queens University Belfast in November 2019.

Irish visitor thanks America for 1921 financial relief

James G. Douglas, honorary treasurer of the Irish White Cross, visited U.S. cities in November 1921 to acknowledge the $5 million in relief Americans donated since the start of the year. The American Committee for Relief in Ireland, which collected the money, described him as “a prominent (drapery) merchant in Dublin, a member of the religious Society of Friends (Quakers) … held in the highest esteem by all classes of people of whatever religious or political affiliation.”[1]Report of American Committee for Relief in Ireland, New York, 1922 , p. 51. Douglas “almost singlehandedly” operated the Irish White Cross, which distributed the aid in Ireland through summer 1922.[2]See Dictionary of Irish Biography

Douglas made his first stop in Pittsburgh, where he was honored by members of the local American Committee at a Knights of Columbus hall.

Douglas

“I addressed the gathering, conveyed the thanks of the White Cross and the Irish people for what they had done and explaining the manner in which the White Cross had administered the relief made possible by the American Committee’s funds,” Douglas wrote in a seven-page account of the tour held by the National Library of Ireland. He never mentioned fundraising totals, which are in some dispute.[3]See my earlier posts: The Pittsburgh fight over 1921 relief to Ireland and ‘A duty to their own flesh & blood‘.

From Pittsburgh, Douglas traveled to Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Washington, D.C., New York City, and Boston. His report is filled with the names of long-ago discontinued passenger railroad lines and prominent early 20th century political and church leaders:

  • Bishop Hugh C. Boyle of Pittsburgh, whose Irish immigrant father was killed in the 1889 Johnstown flood.
  • Archbishop George W. Mundelein of Chicago, son of an Irish immigrant mother.
  • Former Wisconsin Gov. Francis E. McGovern.
  • Archbishop John J. Glennon of St. Louis, a County Westmeath native.
  • Dr. Vernon Kellogg, director of the National Research Council.
  • U.S. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, who was elected U.S. president in 1928.
  • Limerick Mayor Stephen M. O’Mara, also visiting America.
  • William A. Brady, president of the National Association of Motion Picture Producers.
  • Cardinal William O’Connell of Boston, son of Irish parents.
  • Massachusetts Gov. Channing H. Cox.

Douglas made several reference to his encounters with newspaper reporters and photographers, but most press coverage was brief and placed on inside pages. His month-long visit was hardly generated as much attention as Éamon de Valera’s U.S. tour from June 1919 through December 1920.

By early December 1921, the treaty between Irish separatists and the British government dominated the news as Douglas returned to Ireland. He served in the Irish Senate from 1922 until his death in 1954.

From the front page of The Evening Times, Sayre, Pa., Nov. 21, 1921. This image and a wire service story about Douglas’ American visit appeared in U.S. papers through December 1921.

References

References
1 Report of American Committee for Relief in Ireland, New York, 1922 , p. 51.
2 See Dictionary of Irish Biography
3 See my earlier posts: The Pittsburgh fight over 1921 relief to Ireland and ‘A duty to their own flesh & blood‘.

Don’t drink: Father Mathew’s temperance tour in Pittsburgh

Father Theobald Mathew, Ireland’s 19th century temperance priest, visited Pittsburgh in July 1851 during a two-year American tour. Cork-born Michael J. O’Connor, who eight years earlier became the first bishop of the new Catholic dioceses in Western Pennsylvania, hosted the itinerant from July 13 to July 30 at the ecclesiastical residence.

O’Connor “set the example to his flock by solemnly receiving the pledge from the hand of the venerable ‘Apostle of Temperance’ and adding his name to the list of those who were already enrolled in the good cause,” The Pittsburgh Catholic reported.[1]”Father Mathew”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, July 26, 1851. O’Connor established the newspaper in 1844. The secular Pittsburgh Daily Post described the bishop kneeling to receive the pledge as “a glorious spectacle.”[2]”Father Mathew: Most Interesting and Edifying Proceedings”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 22, 1851.

It also was an extraordinary turn for O’Connor, who like other U.S. Catholic prelates had been skeptical of Mathew’s methods and reputation years before his American tour. Part of the reason was Mathew’s “easy fraternization with Protestants,” according to Catholic author and lecturer Michael J. Aquilina.[3]”Pittsburgh Takes the Pledge”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 5, 2005, quoted, and Aug. 12, 2005. Written by and adapted from Aquilina’s April 17, 2005, Lambing Lecture, Holy Spirit … Continue reading O’Connor characterized his own temperance efforts as being “on a more religious basis than it is in Ireland. The pledge is administered before the altar.”[4]Quinn, John F., Father Mathew’s Crusade: Temperance in Nineteenth-Century Ireland and Irish America, University of Massachusetts Press, Boston, 2002. p. 158 and Note 13, p. 228. Quote from … Continue reading

His was not the first or only effort to dry the city. “The temperance movement was probably as characteristic of Pittsburgh morality as any reform and possessed more interest and dramatic vigor than most. A number of local temperance societies had been organized before 1830, but in that year the various societies formed a union and undertook a real campaign.”[5]Baldwin, Leland D., Pittsburgh: The Story of a City, 1750-1865. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1937. p. 249.

Soon after becoming bishop in 1843, O’Connor traveled to Europe to recruit religious personnel to build the new see. In Ireland, he accepted an invitation to speak at one of Mathew’s rallies. “It was probably that personal encounter with Father Mathew and the eyewitness experience of his work that changed Bishop O’Connor’s attitude,” Aquilina wrote. The Kerry Evening Post reported in August 1845 that O’Conner offered grace before the meal of “a great fete” for Mathew hosted by the Teetotalers of Killarney.[6]”The Rev. Theobald Mathew In Killarney, Festivities On The Lake”, Kerry Evening Post, Aug. 23, 1845.

Father Mathew visited Pittsburgh in July 1851.                            Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

An estimated 8,000 people took the temperance pledge during Mathew’s two-week Pittsburgh crusade. The Catholic and secular press coverage did not detail the demographics of those vowing to reject alcohol, though presumably most were men. The reporting also did not reference the famine-fleeing Irish who began arriving in the years immediately before Mathew’s visit. By 1851, about 12,000 Irish immigrants lived in Pittsburgh and neighboring Allegheny City, just over 20 percent of the area population. Victor Walsh has asserted:

Many of Father Mathew’s pledge signers were the Irish-Catholic laboring poor who believed that he possessed supernatural powers that would protect them from evil and misfortune. Passive and capricious, they flocked to the crusade more out of deference to Father Mathew than out of a commitment to organized personal reform. As a consequence, the cause quickly faded in its appeal after Father Mathew’s departure.[7]Walsh, Victor A., “Across ‘The Big Wather,’ The Irish Catholic Community of Mid-Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh”, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 66, No. 1, … Continue reading

Mathew spoke on topics other than temperance, such as charity. “Never did we hear the claims of the poor, or the affluence of the rich, more ably or eloquently enforced; in some cases the effect was thrillingly impressive,” the Daily Post reported.[8]”Father Mathew”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 29, 1851.

After Mathew departed, the Catholic offered this editorial assessment:

He has been successful in Pittsburgh beyond the most sanguine expectations of the friends of total abstinence. During the time of his stay, the number of those who have visited the Bishop’s residence for the purpose of taking the pledge from him has been steadily increasing, and he was compelled to prolong his visit beyond his original intention … We sincerely believe that the benefits produced by the visit will be permanent. … If [Mathew’s estimate that only 4 percent of those who take the pledge later “violate the promise”] is correct, his exertions in the cause of temperance have been an inestimable blessing to those amongst whom he has labored. It is not difficult to get men to take the pledge when it has become the rage to take it in a particular locality; but to get men to adhere to the pledge when the temporary excitement is passed, is a difficulty which our most zealous temperance reformers in this country have found it impossible to overcome.[9]Father Mathew“, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 2, 1851.

The editorial lamented “how few” of the 6,000 Pittsburghers adhered to the temperance pledges they made in 1841, when frequent anti-drink parades marched to “whip up enthusiasm” for the campaign begun in 1830.[10]Baldwin, Story of a City, p. 250.

Four decades after Mathew’s departure, another Irish-born priest, Rev. Morgan Sheedy, operated “a large temperance society” from St. Mary of Mercy Catholic Church in the city’s “Point” district, then an Irish ghetto. He regularly protested against liquor licenses and claimed “the number of saloons was greatly lessened and the liquor traffic brought under restraint.”[11]Sheedy, Rev. Morgan M., “Ten Years on Historic Ground: Early and Later Days at the Pittsburgh Point.” Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, April 1922, p. 141.

Aquilina noted that Alcoholics Anonymous, created in the 1930s, “would have been unthinkable without Father Mathew’s advance guard,” while in Pittsburgh his “good effects cascade down the generations and down the centuries.”[12]”Pittsburgh Takes the Pledge”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 12, 2005,

See more of my work on the Pittsburgh Irish.

Pittsburgh, circa 1850s.                                                                    Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

References

References
1 ”Father Mathew”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, July 26, 1851. O’Connor established the newspaper in 1844.
2 ”Father Mathew: Most Interesting and Edifying Proceedings”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 22, 1851.
3 ”Pittsburgh Takes the Pledge”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 5, 2005, quoted, and Aug. 12, 2005. Written by and adapted from Aquilina’s April 17, 2005, Lambing Lecture, Holy Spirit Byzantine Church Hall, Pittsburgh, Pa. Bates, John C., The Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania: Its Origins, Establishment, and Resurrection. The Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, 2020, p. 352.
4 Quinn, John F., Father Mathew’s Crusade: Temperance in Nineteenth-Century Ireland and Irish America, University of Massachusetts Press, Boston, 2002. p. 158 and Note 13, p. 228. Quote from O’Connor letter to Paul Cullen, Jan. 10, 1842.
5 Baldwin, Leland D., Pittsburgh: The Story of a City, 1750-1865. University of Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh, 1937. p. 249.
6 ”The Rev. Theobald Mathew In Killarney, Festivities On The Lake”, Kerry Evening Post, Aug. 23, 1845.
7 Walsh, Victor A., “Across ‘The Big Wather,’ The Irish Catholic Community of Mid-Nineteenth Century Pittsburgh”, The Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine, Vol. 66, No. 1, January 1983.
8 ”Father Mathew”, Pittsburgh Daily Post, July 29, 1851.
9 Father Mathew“, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 2, 1851.
10 Baldwin, Story of a City, p. 250.
11 Sheedy, Rev. Morgan M., “Ten Years on Historic Ground: Early and Later Days at the Pittsburgh Point.” Western Pennsylvania History Magazine, Vol. 5, No. 2, April 1922, p. 141.
12 ”Pittsburgh Takes the Pledge”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, Aug. 12, 2005,

An Irish-American’s profile of five Irish treaty delegates

Retired federal judge Richard Campbell, secretary of the American Commission for Relief in Ireland, in late October 1921 met the five Irish plenipotentiaries negotiating a peace treaty with the British government. Campbell, a County Antrim emigrant, and banker John J. Pulleyn, treasurer of the American Committee, had spent most of the month in Ireland overseeing the relief effort, subject of an earlier post.

In London, Campbell lunched with the Irish delegation at the Grosvenor Hotel and breakfasted with them at the Hotel Savoy, according to his account published in U.S. newspapers days before the Dec. 6 announcement of the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

Campbell

Campbell began his career as a journalist before becoming a lawyer. His physical descriptions of the five Irish delegates are noteworthy because photos were only starting to become regular features in newspapers. Images of the Irish delegates were not included with Campbell’s descriptions in the two papers I reviewed.[1]”Gives Impressions of Sinn Fein Leaders”, The Evening News, Wilkes Barre, Pa., Nov. 29, 1921, and “Meets Sinn Fein Delegates”, Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, Dec. 4, 1921. The images on this page (except Campbell) were published in a Christmas Day photo spread in the Chicago Tribune three weeks after the treaty announcement.

I’ve edited Campbell’s commentary and added a few (italicized notes within parentheses), where appropriate.

Arthur Griffith

Griffith

… has the look of a Yale professor. His forehead is high and his head well shaped, and the cranial development impressive. He has a grayish-black mustache, blue eyes and carries the mark of introspection the bespeaks middle age in the student and thinker. (Griffith was 50 and would die in less than a year of cerebral hemorrhage, 10 days before Collins assassination.) … … By profession he is a journalist. … His mind runs in terms of commerce and industry. … He wishes to restore Irish shipping to the sea and is full of schemes for the development of Irish ports. His dream is to have Galway the great distribution point for goods from the United States to Europe.

Michael Collins

Collins

… from his appearances is still under 30 years of age. (Collins was 31 on Oct. 16, 1921.) He reminds one of the whirlwind virility of the late Theodore Roosevelt, (Campbell worked in Roosevelt’s administration.) and gives one the impression of a perfect athlete fresh from the football field. … He is above medium height, broad shouldered (and) walks with a quick, long stride. … He is always in a rollicking humor, as if life were a great joke. But when you draw him into conversation you find a man who is keenly alive to the problems of the hour, both in domestic and world politics. … Collins is a singularly modest man … There is no doubt Collins has been one of the great driving forces of the republican movement and his career in Ireland will be a notable one, I am sure. (Collins was assassinated nine months later.)

George Gavan Duffy

Duffy

… is of medium height and wears a reddish Van Dyke beard, he is still on the sunny side of middle age. (He was 39.) Duffy is a quiet man, slow and deliberate of speech, but always convincing. He is by profession a lawyer … If we had him here in America he would suggest a solid lawyer of the type who represents the average run of clients. … Since 1914 he was represented the Irish Republic in various countries of Europe, notably Italy and France. … He is the son of a former premier of New South Wales, Sir Charles Gavin Duffy.

Robert C. Barton

Barton

… has a shy, self-effacing approach and the look of an Episcopal clergyman. He is gray haired, middle aged (He was 40.) and has a florid complexion. His dress is immaculate and his outward appearance conveys anything but the impression of an uncompromising revolutionist that he is.  … (As a British Army officer) in 1916 he commanded a company in the troops assigned to the task of suppressing the Easter rebellion in Dublin. At that time he says he began to think along republican lines. … (He later) became a candidate for the Irish Parliament on the Sinn Fein ticket and soon thereafter found himself in a jail in England under a three-year sentence for ‘seditious utterances’ (and released under a general amnesty in July 1921).

Éamonn Duggan

Duggan

… gives the impression of the sort of man who if he were over here might be taken for a congressman or a United States senator. He wears a gray mustache, has a dapper appearance, is slightly bald and is just about medium height. (He was 43.) He is easy to approach … and has a distinct gift as a raconteur. Duggan is a Dublin lawyer, but he hails from the county of Armagh … he speaks with a strong North of Ireland burr. … He claims that outside the city of Belfast, Ulster is as Irish as any other part of Ireland. … He certainly impresses me as being a man of brains.

Campbell concluded:

Altogether I may say that I was deeply impressed by the ability and scholarly attainments of the men who are representing Ireland. One may here this and that, but real impressions have to be made my personal contacts.

See my full series on American Reporting of Irish Independence.

References

References
1 ”Gives Impressions of Sinn Fein Leaders”, The Evening News, Wilkes Barre, Pa., Nov. 29, 1921, and “Meets Sinn Fein Delegates”, Sioux City (Iowa) Journal, Dec. 4, 1921.

Reciprocal relief between Ireland and Johnstown, Pa.

This year I’ve been exploring aspects of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland, which began collecting funds at the start of 1921 and distributed $5 million in relief through mid-1922.

In September I wrote a piece for The Irish Story about how the people of Johnstown and surrounding Cambria County in Pennsylvania contributed to the effort “as a token of gratitude” for aid the community received 32 years earlier from Ireland, when the raging waters of a broken dam killed 2,209 people, including Irish immigrants, in an infamous flood.

The Tribune-Democrat of Johnston wrote a short feature about my research into this forgotten story: Amateur historian discovers connection between Johnstown, Ireland.

Bird’s-eye view of Johnstown, Pa., after the 1889 flood.      Image from Library of Congress.

The lawyer, the banker & money to Ireland, fall 1921

A photographer hailed New York banker John J. Pulleyn and lawyer Richard Campbell as they approached the ocean liner that would soon carry them to Ireland. Would they stop for a picture? The pair agreed, Pulleyn removing his hat, Campbell draping his coat over his left forearm.

New York Daily News, Sept. 28, 1921.

In addition to their usual professional roles, Pulleyn and Campbell were treasurer and secretary, respectively, of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland. The day before their Sept. 27, 1921, voyage, they approved a $242,364 disbursement to the Irish White Cross to help relieve suffering in the war-torn country, where an uneasy truce had held since July. The remittance raised to $726,000 the American Committee’s distribution to Ireland in September, more than double the monthly average since the relief campaign began in January 1921.[1]Reports, American Committee for Relief In Ireland and Irish White Cross, 1922. Schedule B, pp. 44-45.

Pulleyn, the son of Irish immigrants, was a 61-year-old widow and president of the Emigrant Industrial Savings Bank in New York City. His 24-year-old daughter, Clara, joined him on the Atlantic voyage. Two adult sons remained at the banker’s Upper West Side house, staffed by a pair of Irish maids.[2]1920 U.S. Census, Manhattan Assembly District 11, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1205; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 819, and Nov. 11, 1921 New York Passenger Arrivals, Microfilm Serial: T715, … Continue reading

Campbell, 48, was single. He emigrated from Deerpark East, Glenarm in County Antrim, in 1889, and was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1894. Campbell worked as a journalist, graduated from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., in 1899, and soon joined the U.S. Department of Justice in the administration of President Theodore Roosevelt. Campbell later served as U.S. federal judge in the Philippines, then retired from the judiciary in 1916 and opened a private practice in New York.[3]1920 U.S. Census: Manhattan Assembly District 7, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1197; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 551, Nov. 11, 1921 New York Passenger Arrivals, and “From Altmore Street to … Continue reading

By coincidence, the ship that Pulleyn and Campbell boarded was the Lapland, the same liner that Irish leader Éamon de Valera had stowed aboard to America two years earlier.[4]See The other aboard the ‘Lapland’ with de Valera and The ‘striking contrast’ of Dev’s second ‘Lapland’ boarding. The New York City newspapers that morning reported the latest correspondence between de Valera and Prime Minister Lloyd George regarding peace negotiations between Irish separatists and the British empire.

Ireland arrival

In Dublin, Pulleyn and Campbell were honored at a Gresham Hotel luncheon hosted by Lord Mayor Laurence O’Neill and attended by de Valera. Other guests included James G. Douglas, treasurer of the Irish White Cross. He postponed his trip to America so he could meet the two visitors, who assured him of a “hearty welcome” in the United States.[5]”Relief In Ireland Work Of White Cross”, The Irish Press, Nov. 5, 1921. (Subject of a future post.)

Two members of the American Committee also were at the Gresham: Clemens J. France, a Seattle lawyer and brother of U.S. Sen. Joseph I. France, and New York journalist Samuel Duff McCoy. France led an eight-man delegation that assessed conditions in Ireland for the American Committee in February and March. He remained in Ireland as McCoy returned to America, issued the group’s report in April, and lobbied the U.S. State Department on behalf of the relief effort. He later returned to Ireland. 

Pulleyn and Campbell visited Ballbriggan. They observed ruined factories and heard first-hand accounts of the destruction and loss of life during the year-earlier rampage by Black and Tans. They stopped at Wexford on their way to Cork city, where the British military had set devastating fires in December 1920.[6]”Relief”, Irish Press, Nov. 5, 1921.

“It was with regret and pain that we viewed the ruins of a large part of the business section of your city, and it agitated us to think that such unhappy conditions could exist in this age and in this stage of our civilization,” Campbell said at an event honoring the two visitors. “But that pain, that destruction and that regret was mitigated to some small extent by our admiration for the courage and enterprise which you have displayed in resuming again the activities of your businesses.”[7]”Irish White Cross, Speeches at Cork Dinner” The Cork Examiner, Oct. 17, 1921, and “Spectacle Of Cork Ruins Pains U.S. Delegates”, The Irish Press, Nov. 12, 1921.

Campbell also made a visit to his family home at Deerpark. A challenge hurling match was arranged in his honor.[8]”From Altmore Street …” Pulleyn and his daughter also visited some of Ireland’s beauty sights away from the misery of the two-year-old war.

Special letter

The lawyer and the banker remained in Ireland through the end of October. As they prepared to return, a special letter addressed to them thanked the American Committee …

and all those in the United States who have contributed to its funds for the generous assistance sent to Ireland for the relief of the suffering, loss and misery incurred by the Irish people in their struggle for national independence.  … It is not only the material aid that you have organized has been of incalculable benefit, you and your friends have helped to sustain the spirit of our people, and to make them realize that your great nation stood beside them with encouragement, sympathy and hope in the terrible ordeal undergone in the efforts to save their national institutions and the very fabric of their national life from destruction.

The letter was signed by Arthur Griffith, Michael Collins, George Gavan Duffy, Robert C. Barton, and Éamonn Duggan, the Irish plenipotentiaries to the London treaty negotiations with the British government.[9]Oct. 29, 1921 letter in Reports, Appendix C, pp. 84-85. Before Pulleyn and Campbell returned to New York in mid-November, the American Committee cabled another $607,000 in relief to Ireland. The payments continued until June 1922, a total of $5 million.

References

References
1 Reports, American Committee for Relief In Ireland and Irish White Cross, 1922. Schedule B, pp. 44-45.
2 1920 U.S. Census, Manhattan Assembly District 11, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1205; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 819, and Nov. 11, 1921 New York Passenger Arrivals, Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 1; Page Number: 31.
3 1920 U.S. Census: Manhattan Assembly District 7, New York, New York; Roll: T625_1197; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 551, Nov. 11, 1921 New York Passenger Arrivals, and “From Altmore Street to the Headless Cross” , Glens of Antrim Historical Society, Oct. 17, 2005.
4 See The other aboard the ‘Lapland’ with de Valera and The ‘striking contrast’ of Dev’s second ‘Lapland’ boarding.
5 ”Relief In Ireland Work Of White Cross”, The Irish Press, Nov. 5, 1921.
6 ”Relief”, Irish Press, Nov. 5, 1921.
7 ”Irish White Cross, Speeches at Cork Dinner” The Cork Examiner, Oct. 17, 1921, and “Spectacle Of Cork Ruins Pains U.S. Delegates”, The Irish Press, Nov. 12, 1921.
8 ”From Altmore Street …”
9 Oct. 29, 1921 letter in Reports, Appendix C, pp. 84-85.

Welcoming American tourists to Ireland, 1913-2021

Americans remain welcome in Ireland, even as other European nations tighten or prohibit non-essential travelers from the United States due to surging COVID-19 infections.

“They’re a very important part of our tourism sector, if we were to block Americans we would definitely be shooting ourselves in the foot,” John Galligan of the Irish Travel Agents Association told TheJournal.ie. “There are not a lot of American tourists at the moment but there are some. Business travel is a part of this too.”

In 2019 the Irish travel industry reported record visitors, paid room nights (with a related decline in visitors “couch surfing” with relatives), and other tourist spending. Only tiny fractions of those figures have been realized since the pandemic erupted shortly before St. Patrick’s Day 2020. Visitors are now required to show proof of vaccine or negative test results.

Americans began driving the Irish tourism industry before the 1918 flu pandemic. It’s a recurring topic in Ireland [1913], the 118-year-old travelogue by German journalist Richard Arnold Bermann, now translated into English for the first time by Leesa Wheatley and Florian Krobb.[1]Published by Cork University Press, 2021. 200 pages, including Introduction and Note on Translation, Endnotes, and Index. No interior photos. The book has drawn particular attention as a snapshot of Ireland at the start of its revolutionary period and a year before the Great War. In their Introduction, Wheatley and Krobb also note Bermann’s “umbrage … at traces of mass tourism prone to erode the serenity of the autochthonous culture where it might still survive,  and the blatant exploitation of visitors by entrepreneurial yet intrusive individuals who offer their services as guides or coach drivers.”

Early in the original text, Bermann writes:

At this moment in time tourism is really taking off in Ireland. It will not exactly do away with the country’s history because it feeds on it — Ireland’s history populates the countryside with splendid sights, with druidic stones, with ancient kings and ruins in every shape and size, all meticulously decorated in ivy. But the tourist industry should help clear the huts, these dreadful holes, even if then the ladies from Connecticut are thereabouts find Ireland a lot less delightful.[2]Ireland, pp.45-46.

At Killarney, he grumbles about tour buses “packed with Americans.” Later, he smirks that “it is just too comical seeing really old American women climb onto gentlemen’s saddles and gallop off.”[3]Ireland, p. 47 and p. 51, respectively. Was Bermann sexist as well as anti-American?

Other perspectives of these same American tourists are found in the 1913 U.S. newspaper clippings on this page. The Boston Globe reported how members of the city’s Irish county clubs–groupings of immigrants from Cork, Clare, Cavan, etc.–were touring “the Old Country.” Lady Aberdeen, wife of the Lord Lieutenant, hosted a U.S. agricultural delegation and promised to open a “Welcome Club” for American visitors in one of Dublin’s old Georgian mansions. Instead of climbing to the top deck of a tour bus or saddling a horse, other U.S. visitors to Killarney boarded a jaunting car.

“…a truly enjoyable experience,” Bermann wrote. “A trap on two high wheels, drawn by a single horse, rides like a fairground contraption rather than a coach. It looks as if the house’s saddle has slipped onto the horse’s rear end.”[4]Ireland, p. 49 

An American family on a jaunting car at the Lakes of Killarney, Co. Kerry. (Decatur, Illinois) Herald & Review, Aug. 31, 1913.

The 1913 Ireland trip was the first of what became three decades of “frenetic, restless, almost driven travels all around the world” for Bermann (1883-1939), Wheatley and Krobb write. He wrote the book “to establish himself as a journalist of punch and substance.” His “pinpointing the Americanization of the beauty spots” and satirizing of fellow tourists “often borders on the affectatious.” Yet, “in spite of some gratuitous posturing, he conveys a very vivid picture … of the Ireland of his day.”

Bremann’s 1913 travels occurred only weeks after my Kerry-born maternal grandfather sailed to America. The journalist’s descriptions of Ireland frame the county just as the emigrant left it, never to return. (Coincidentally, and overlooked by Wheatley and Krobb, the French photographers Madeleine Mignon-Alba and Marguerite Mespoulet made the first color photographs of Ireland in May and June 1913.)

Belvidere (Illinois) Daily Republican, Aug. 21, 1913

Fifty-six years after Bremann, about halfway between 1913 and today, one of my grandfather’s six daughters became the first of his American family to visit Ireland. After her death, I inherited my aunt’s collection of ephemera from her 1969 trip and subsequent visits to Ireland. A 44-page Irish Tourist Board pamphlet promotes both 6-hour flights from New York and Boston, as well as 7-day “regular sailings by ocean liner into Cobh and Galway.”

Packed with lovely photos, the pamphlet describes mid-century Ireland on the eve of the Troubles in romantic marketing prose:

Their little island contains all you ever hoped it would–the fabled scenery, the castles rimed with age and legend, twisting lanes and peat bogs and mists, Irish whiskey and linen and tweed, Irish wolfhounds and soda bread, Blarney Stone and Blarney talk. … Aran’s children with enormous eyes, scholar priests a-walking; slender young gentles of ancient line, jaunty old chaps who spin the tales; farmers and fishers and cutters of turf, writers and actors … Oh, it is a marvelous spread of folk we have over here! Bunched in the cities where the stunning Irish theater is, spread over the lush and rolling green of the south, spread a little thinner in the west where the ribs of rock show through.”

I made my first trip to Ireland in 2000, a dozen years after my aunt’s last visit in 1988, and 87 years after Bremann. Over 10 trips I’ve covered the same ground as both of them (including Killarney) and millions of others since 1913. I’m anxious to return after being kept away for two years by COVID, but I don’t expect to make the trip until at least next year.

“Ireland is much too close to America,” Bremann wrote in 1913, a sentence that probably resonated with his German readers a year before the outbreak of the Great War. For contemporary Irish tourism officials, the travel reluctance of so many potential visitors is a troubling concern, even as the country remains more welcoming then other parts of Europe.

The Boston Globe, Aug. 18, 1913

References

References
1 Published by Cork University Press, 2021. 200 pages, including Introduction and Note on Translation, Endnotes, and Index. No interior photos.
2 Ireland, pp.45-46.
3 Ireland, p. 47 and p. 51, respectively.
4 Ireland, p. 49

‘A duty to their own flesh & blood’

Americans of Irish descent owed a “special duty to their own flesh and blood,” Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore emphasized in a spring 1921 fundraising appeal. The Irish had “given generously to all other suffering peoples,” he said, “they will not forget their own.” 

Cardinal Gibbons

Gibbons was an honorary leader of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland as the war with Britain entered its third year. The New York-based organization described itself as a “non-political and non-sectarian body, solely humanitarian in aim,”[1]“American Committee For Relief In Ireland, Part 1, Suggested Plan for National Organization”, Undated. From Series X: Manuscripts & Printed Material, page 1. From “Maloney collection of … Continue reading but had strong Irish nationalist and Catholic connections. Just over 1 million Irish immigrants lived in America at the time. Their U.S.-born children and grandchildren swelled that number many times over. 

The American Committee sought as many contributors as possible, especially the rich. Organizers emphasized that “securing a large number of contributions early in the campaign” would encourage others to “enlarge their gifts because of the example set by wealthy fellow citizens.”[2]“Suggested Plan”, p 3. Promotional material suggested $10 contributions would “provide food, clothing and shelter for some homeless Irish waif for one month.”[3]Flier in the John B. Collins Papers, University of Pittsburgh, ULS Archives & Special Collections, Series I, Folders 12/13, “American Committee for Relief in Ireland.” Digital copies … Continue reading

The campaign set a $10.2 million nationwide goal. For perspective, that was just less 10 cents–a dime–from each of America’s 107 million residents, or $10 from every Irish native. Final donations from the 48 states and the District of Columbia totaled $4,555,313, just over 4 cents per capita for all Americans and about $4.55 for Irish immigrants.[4]Excludes $100,000 from the American Red Cross and $13,881 from Alaska, not a state at the time, Canada, the Canal Zone, Mexico, and other foreign contributions, none of which were included in the … Continue reading

New York and Massachusetts, with the first and second largest Irish immigrant populations, finished first and second in collections, respectively. Pennsylvania, with the third largest Irish population, finished seventh in U.S. fundraising.

Here are the collection totals, number of Irish immigrants, and the Irish per capita rates for those seven states:

  • New York: $1,192,603 * 284,747 * $4.18
  • Massachusetts: $734,058 * 183,171 * $4.01
  • Connecticut: $358,508 * 45,404 * $7.89
  • Illinois: $330,533 * 74,274 * $4.45
  • California: $330,448 * 45,308 * $7.29
  • New Jersey: $226,476 * 65,971 * $3.43
  • Pennsylvania: $210,795 * 121,601 * $1.73

The American Committee’s 1922 final report and audited statement praised Connecticut for its $358,000 collection on a $100,000 quota, the highest return by percentage over any assigned state goal. Thomas Lawrence Reilly, the New Haven sheriff and son of Irish immigrants, chaired the state campaign.[5]1920; Census Place: New Haven Ward 10, New Haven, Connecticut; Roll: T625_193; Page: 23A; Enumeration District: 375. In March 1921, local volunteers canvassed with buttons, pledge cards, and receipt books.

“Every person giving a subscription will receive a button and a receipt for the amount they contribute,” a Meriden paper reported on St. Patrick’s Day. “The buttons have a red, white and blue background with the letters A.C.R.I across them in green letters.”[6]”Irish Relief Appointment”, The Journal (Meriden, Conn.), March 17, 1921.

The formula for determining state quotas is not described in the American Committee’s 1922 final report, its six-page “Suggested Plan for National Organization”, or a 12-page memorandum of national committee meetings from December 1920 through October 1921.[7]American Committee for Relief In Ireland, Schedule A, pp. 43-44; “Suggested Plan” in Maloney collection; and “Committee for Relief in Ireland’, providing accounts of several meetings of … Continue reading Without such context or background, it is difficult to evaluate the success or failure of individual states. I welcome reader input on these details.  

Some additional perspective on the nationwide collections:

  • 21 of 48 states returned less than half of their assigned quota;
  • 18 states surpassed their quota;
  • 11 states returned more than $100,000; and
  • 9 states contributed less than $10,000; with $547 from Arkansas the smallest return.

Gibbons died shortly after issuing the statement quoted at the top and shown below in a Pittsburgh Catholic newspaper advertisement. American relief was distributed in Ireland through summer 1922.

Also see: The Pittsburgh fight over relief to Ireland

References

References
1 “American Committee For Relief In Ireland, Part 1, Suggested Plan for National Organization”, Undated. From Series X: Manuscripts & Printed Material, page 1. From “Maloney collection of Irish historical papers, 1857-1965”, New York Public Library.
2 “Suggested Plan”, p 3.
3 Flier in the John B. Collins Papers, University of Pittsburgh, ULS Archives & Special Collections, Series I, Folders 12/13, “American Committee for Relief in Ireland.” Digital copies provided by Jon Klosinski, May 26, 2021. I have previously reviewed these files in-person.
4 Excludes $100,000 from the American Red Cross and $13,881 from Alaska, not a state at the time, Canada, the Canal Zone, Mexico, and other foreign contributions, none of which were included in the campaign’s stated goal.
5 1920; Census Place: New Haven Ward 10, New Haven, Connecticut; Roll: T625_193; Page: 23A; Enumeration District: 375.
6 ”Irish Relief Appointment”, The Journal (Meriden, Conn.), March 17, 1921.
7 American Committee for Relief In Ireland, Schedule A, pp. 43-44; “Suggested Plan” in Maloney collection; and “Committee for Relief in Ireland’, providing accounts of several meetings of the Commission in New York, Dec. 16, 1920-Oct. 26, 1921, in Patrick McCartan Papers, 1912-1938, Library of Ireland.