Category Archives: Irish America

Dev’s last visit ‘home’ to USA; Ireland’s ‘cruel partition’

Irish President Éamon de Valera made a state visit to the United States in May 1964 that bookended U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s trip to Ireland 11 months earlier. Kennedy was 46 when he set foot on Irish soil for the fifth time, the first time as U.S. leader. He was assassinated five months later in Dallas. De Valera was 81 when he made his sixth journey to America, his second U.S. trip in six months. He died in 1975, aged 92.

“This is the country of your birth, Mr. President. This will always be your home,” U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson reminded de Valera during a welcome ceremony on the South Portico of the White House. “You belong to us, Mr. President, just as in a very special way John F. Kennedy belonged to you.”

De Valera was born in New York City in October 1882. Two years later, following his father’s death, an uncle escorted him to Ireland, where he was raised by his mother’s family in County Limerick. His return trips to America included:

  • June 1919-December 1920, as Ireland’s revolutionary “president.”
  • December 1927-February 1928, as opposition leader to raise money for his newspaper.
  • December 1929-May 1930, again to raise money for The Irish Press.
  • March 1948, part of his anti-partition tour.
  • November 1963, for Kennedy’s funeral.
  • May 1964, official state visit.

See three related lists at bottom of post.

Johnson gifted de Valera with a copy of journalist William V. Shannon’s new book, The American Irish. In what must rank among the most ill-timed releases in publishing history, the book’s concluding chapter about Kennedy had been published and distributed just before the assassination.[1]“Always Welcome To U.S.: Johnson’s Warm Greeting To De Valera”, The Cork Examiner, May 28, 1964. Also mentioned in The Irish Press and The Irish Independent.

Shannon, a Washington correspondent for the New York Post, wrote that Kennedy’s “winning of the presidency culminated and consolidated more than a century of Irish political activity.” It wiped away the bitterness and disappointment of Al Smith’s 1928 defeat as the first Irish American Catholic presidential nominee and “removed any lingering sense of social inferiority and insecurity” from Famine immigrants and their offspring, too long caricatured as ditch-diggers and domestics.

If de Valera read the book, or just checked the index, he would have seen that he was not included in this story of the Irish in America. Ireland’s early twentieth century revolutionary period is barely mentioned. Shannon later became U.S. ambassador to Ireland during the Carter administration, two years after de Valera’s death.

There were plenty of press compliments for de Valera. Syndicated columnist Max Freedman declared him “one of the supreme figures of our age. … invulnerable to criticism, implacable in defeat, imperturbable in victory, and immortal in the perspectives of history.”[2]”De Valera Holds High Place In History’, The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune, May 25, 1964. Freedman was a Canadian journalist.

‘First’ ladies man: Éamon de Valera greeted Jacqueline Kennedy, widow of the slain president, during his May 1964 visit, above. They had written to each other since the assassination. Dev also escorted Lady Bird Johnson to a state dinner, below. President Johnson is to his left.

In 1964, De Valera delivered a 20-minute address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress. An Irish radio broadcaster observed that members of the U.S. House and Senate, hardly known for their youth, seemed incredulous to hear the octogenarian recall his 1919 visit. De Valera spoke without written remarks or a teleprompter.

“I would like to confess freely that this is an outstanding day of my own life,” he told the assembly. “To see recognized as I have the rights of the Irish people and the independence of the Irish people in a way that was not at all possible 45 years ago. I have longed to come back and say this too you.”

But de Valera lamented the “cruel partition” of the island, in place since 1920. He mused that a future Irish leader would “joyfully announce that our severed county has been reunited” and that all enmity between the British and Irish people has been removed. Listen to the full speech.

Anglo-Irish relations are not as bad today as during the Troubles, which began soon after de Valera’s speech to Congress. But 60 years later the border remains in place. Now, the partition debate is further complicated by Brexit and immigration disputes.

JFK’s visits to Ireland:[3]This chart has been revised since the original post. There is conflicting information about JFK’s stops in Ireland, with one source suggesting he made six visits.

  • 1939, a brief stopover at Foynes.
  • 1945, after his service in World War II, and interviewed de Valera for the New York Journal-American.
  • 1947, visited his sister Kathleen, who was staying at Lismore Castle.
  • 1955, as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and met with Irish T.D. Liam Cosgrave.
  • June 1963, as president on an official state visit.

Irish leaders who addressed the U.S. Congress:

  • Feb. 2, 1880, Charles Stewart Parnell, Member of Parliament, (U.S. House)
  • Jan. 25, 1928, William T. Cosgrave, President of Executive Council, (U.S. House)
  • March 15, 1956, John A. Costello, Prime Minister, (U.S. Senate)
  • March 18, 1959, John T. O’Kelly, President, (Joint session)
  • May 28, 1964, Éamon de Valera, President, (Joint session)
  • Jan. 28, 1976, Liam Cosgrave, Prime Minister, (Joint session)
  • March 15, 1984, Dr. Garrett FitzGerald, Prime Minister, (Joint session)
  • Sept. 11, 1996, John Bruton, Prime Minister, (Joint session)
  • April 30, 2008, Bertie Ahearn, Prime Minister, (Joint session)

U.S. leaders who addressed the Irish Oireachtas:

  • May 9, 1919, Frank Walsh, Edward Dunne, and Michael Ryan as the American Commission on Irish Independence, (1st Dáil). The commission was the creation of Irish activists in America, not a body of the U.S. government. The three commissioners were not elected.
  • June 28, 1963, John F. Kennedy, President, (Joint session)
  • June 4, 1984, Ronald Reagan, President, (Joint session)
  • Dec. 1, 1995, Bill Clinton, President, (Joint session)
  • April 13, 2023, Joe Biden, President, (Joint session)

Of course, other Irish leaders have visited America, notably at St. Patrick’s Day, and other American presidents have visited Ireland, without addressing the welcoming country’s national legislature.

References

References
1 “Always Welcome To U.S.: Johnson’s Warm Greeting To De Valera”, The Cork Examiner, May 28, 1964. Also mentioned in The Irish Press and The Irish Independent.
2 ”De Valera Holds High Place In History’, The Salt Lake (Utah) Tribune, May 25, 1964. Freedman was a Canadian journalist.
3 This chart has been revised since the original post. There is conflicting information about JFK’s stops in Ireland, with one source suggesting he made six visits.

U.S. opinion on Ireland, 1919: the view from Rome

Msgr. John Hagan

Monsignor John Hagan became rector of the Pontifical Irish College in Rome during the Irish War of Independence. The County Wicklow native, who had been vice-rector of the Catholic seminary since 1904, succeeded Michael O’Riordan in late 1919. Both priests were staunch Irish nationalists. Hagan was in close contact with Irish separatists and used the May 1920 beatification of Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681) as a propaganda coup that became known as “Sinn Féin Week in Rome.”

In summer 1919, shortly before O’Riordan’s death, Hagan drafted an article for Vatican officials that sketched his views on Irish affairs abroad since the end of the First World War. Below are excerpts on how public support for Ireland in the United States was unleashed after the November 1918 armistice. It is unclear whether any of Hagan’s material was ever published. Reader beware: the monsignor wrote sprawling sentences.

Till the signing of the armistice, and indeed for some months after, it could with truth be asserted that outside Ireland there was no such thing as an Irish question, or if there was anything in the shape of feeling on the matter it was one of hostility or indifference or coolness. … Even in the United States where the program of Irish independence had always reckoned millions of supporters, sympathy had been dimmed considerably after the (spring 1917) intervention of that country in the European arena; and naturally enough English propaganda had left no stone unturned to foster feelings of hostility or indifference, partly by the old methods of defamation, partly by periodic discoveries or inventions of alleged German plots, and partly by making it appear that as far as England was concerned there was no difficulty in the way of a solution of the Irish question and that if any difficulty existed it was due to the failure of the Irish themselves to formulate anything in the shape of a substantial claim supported by practical unanimity. …

(In the United States) public expression of opinion could be cooled by the ardor of war, and could be retarded or perverted by English control of the ocean cables, and could be rendered impossible by an iron discipline imposed on the country by President (Woodrow) Wilson and an army of English propagandists, but only as long as hostilities lasted. The moment hostilities ceased the previous attitude of indifference or aloofness gave way as if by magic to an outburst of enthusiasm and to a loud-voiced demand that to Ireland first of all should be applied the principles in defense of which the President had led his country into war. As early as December (1918) the country was ablaze; and a series of meetings, culminating in a huge gathering of the Friends of Irish Freedom at Philadelphia, brought the United States into line and led to an active program which has admittedly brought Ireland out of the purlieus of a simple question of English domestic policy into the forefront of international considerations affecting the immediate outlook and the future good understanding that has to be arrived at if England is to face the financial and commercial burthens arising out of the five years’ struggle that is just drawing to a close.

In the 10-page typescript, Hagan also described the activities of the American Commission on Irish Independence; Bishop Michael Gallagher of Detroit’s outspoken view on the Irish question (quoted extensively); and Eamon de Valera’s then month-old tour of the United States, including his July 13, 1919, address in Chicago (also quoted extensively). Hagan’s papers have been digitized by Georgetown University. I’ll have more about this valuable source in a future post.

In 1926 Hagan moved the Irish College at the Church of St Agata dei Goti to its present site on the Via dei S.S. Quattro. Photo from my April 2024 visit. (I got inside the gate.)

Visit to Old St. Patrick’s in New York City

Over the years I’ve visited more than two dozen St. Patrick’s churches in four countries, as detailed in this special section. But one historic church eluded me until earlier this month, when I finally stepped inside the Basilica of Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Lower Manhattan.

As the first church in the United States dedicated to Ireland’s patron saint, it was the original cathedral of the Diocese of New York. The cornerstone was laid in 1809, and the completed church was consecrated in 1815. St. Pat’s became a target of the Know Nothings and other anti-Catholic and nativist movements. Damage from an 1866 fire was repaired two years later. By then, however, construction had begun on the larger and now more familiar St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Read more history of the first St. Patrick’s.

My wife and I attended the midday Mass at Old St. Pat’s during our recent visit. Here are a few photos:

The orange and yellow umbraculum at left signals the church’s 2010 designation as a basilica.

View from about three quarters back.

Front entrance is on Mott Street between Houston and Prince.

Mural on nearby building shows view down Mott Street with the church on the left, behind the trees. Empire State Building seen in the background at right edge of the green canopy.

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.

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.)

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.)