Most of my posts this month will be dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the April 10, 1998, accord that largely ended 30 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland. Below are the next-day front pages of five U.S. dailies in cities with large Irish American populations. (Click images to see larger versions.) The agreement was approved the following month in referendums on both sides of the island’s partition. Watch for more posts through the month, including U.S. President Joe Biden’s anticipated trip to NI/Ireland. MH
Category Archives: Irish America
Praying and ‘knocking heads together’ to end Irish Civil War
Archbishop George W. Mundelein, speaking at Chicago’s 1923 St. Patrick’s Day banquet, described a secret meeting between Éamon de Valera, leader of the republican faction opposed to the fledgling Irish Free State, and General Richard Mulcahy, chief of government forces during the Irish Civil War. The prelate said the two combatants embraced each other as they met at a Dublin retreat house, then got down on their knees together to pray the “Hail Mary” and this litany:
“St. Patrick; apostle of Ireland, pray for us; St. Bridgit, patroness of Ireland, pray for; All ye holy men and women who died for Ireland, pray for us.”
The archbishop assured the Ancient Order of Hibernians and its Ladies Auxiliary that the two sides were “groping for some way out of their difficulty,” which he suggested could be ended if only some strong man had the courage to “knock their heads together” in common and united effort. His story “moved hundreds to tears,” according to the news account. He was “the only speaker at the celebration who had the courage to make reference to present day conditions in the Emerald Isle.”
The next day’s Chicago Tribune reported the story on page 5 (see below), but without the head knocking quote.Mundelein Tells How Foes In Erin Knelt Together”, Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1923. The Associated Press wired its version of the story, with the quote, to other U.S. secular daily newspapers. The National Catholic Welfare Council news service distributed this version to Catholic weeklies, which published the story through the rest of March.”Declares De Valera Knelt With Mulcahy”, The New York Times, March 19, 1923; “De Valera a And Mulcahy Reported Friends Again”, Evening Star, Washington, D.C., March 19, 1923; … Continue reading A brief version of the story from Central News also appeared in the Irish Examiner,Mulcahy & De Valera, American Archbishop’s Statement”, Irish Examiner, March 20, 1923. but the Free State government denied it the next day.”Praying Story Denied”, Belfast News-Letter, March 21, 1923.
Archbishop Mundelein attributed the story to one of his recent visitors, “the only person who witnessed this meeting,” but did not name his source. His informant must have been Monsignor John Rogers, a County Wexford native and pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in San Francisco active in Irish republican affairs.”Monsignor John Rogers Drops Dead At Funeral”, The Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1935.
A week before St. Patrick’s Day 1923, Monsignor Rogers cabled the Irish Independent to claim credit for the Sept. 8, 1922, meeting between De Valera and Mulcahy. In February 1923, Free State President William T. Cosgrave told the Independent that “a high church dignitary from another country” helped arrange the meeting, which did not yield a peace settlement.”Monsignor Rogers’ Part”, Irish Independent, March 13, 1923.
De Valera’s personal papers at University College Dublin contain “correspondence between Monsignor John Rogers, Ernie O’Malley (Acting Assistant Chief of Staff), de Valera and Eamon Donnelly (‘Mr D’) on the organization of a meeting, through the auspices of Monsignor Rogers, between de Valera and General Richard Mulcahy and the issuing of a form of safe conduct for Mulcahy. Also includes a list of six propositions (8 September 1922, 1p) submitted by Monsignor Rogers to de Valera, as a ‘basis of action or agreement’ (3–8 September 1922 & February 1923, 14 items).” I have not reviewed this material, which is not available online.Eamon de Valera Papers P150, UCD Archives finding guide page 535.
Monsignor Rogers, in an Oct. 8, 1922, letter to Joseph McGarrity of Philadelphia, wrote that he had dinned the previous evening in Chicago with Archbishop Edward Joseph Hanna of San Francisco and Archbishop Mundelein, whom he describe as “a true friend of De Valera.” McGarrity, who published the Irish Press from March 1918 until May 1922, was a key de Valera supporter before and after the Anglo-Irish Treaty split. The priest reported the Chicago archbishop had just read “the Chief’s last communication” with interest.
At the time, the American press was reporting the Free State army had intercepted multiple correspondence from de Valera. One letter said he had no influence over armed republicans. It also suggested that even if republicans could somehow “overthrow” the provisional government “they would themselves be ousted by the people at the next election.””De Valera Is Discouraged Over Affairs”, The Fresno (California) Morning Republican, Oct. 15, 1922.
Archbishop Mundelein, 50 in 1923, was the American-born son of an Irish mother and a German father. He became archbishop in 1915. In 1921, he was listed on the national council of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland, and he also served on the executive committee of the committee’s Illinois delegation. The prelate’s 1923 St. Patrick’s Day “story”, by then six months old, clearly was intended to give hope to Irish American Catholics, who had become disgusted and disillusioned with the civil war. His description of the two combatants seeking the intercessions of familiar Irish saints probably was overly greened malarkey, but certainly suited the occasion and the church.
The civil war ended two months later. Archbishop Mundelein was elevated to cardinal the following year. The finding guide of his archive lists a 1927 Christmas letter from de Valera to the prelate and an undated photo of the two of them. The archbishop died in 1939, four years after Monsignor Rogers. A newspaper obituary described the San Francisco priest as “a personal friend” of de Valera.”Rogers Drops Dead”, Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1935.
You could say he once was in the room where it didn’t happen.
(See all the posts in my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.)
|↑1||Mundelein Tells How Foes In Erin Knelt Together”, Chicago Tribune, March 18, 1923.|
|↑2||”Declares De Valera Knelt With Mulcahy”, The New York Times, March 19, 1923; “De Valera a And Mulcahy Reported Friends Again”, Evening Star, Washington, D.C., March 19, 1923; “De Valera And Mulchy Meet And Pray Together For Peace And Protection In Ireland”, The Pittsburgh Catholic, March 29, 1923; “De Valera Meets And Prays With General Mulcahy”, The Catholic Advocate, Wichita, Kansas, March 31, 1923.|
|↑3||Mulcahy & De Valera, American Archbishop’s Statement”, Irish Examiner, March 20, 1923.|
|↑4||”Praying Story Denied”, Belfast News-Letter, March 21, 1923.|
|↑5||”Monsignor John Rogers Drops Dead At Funeral”, The Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1935.|
|↑6||”Monsignor Rogers’ Part”, Irish Independent, March 13, 1923.|
|↑7||Eamon de Valera Papers P150, UCD Archives finding guide page 535.|
|↑8||”De Valera Is Discouraged Over Affairs”, The Fresno (California) Morning Republican, Oct. 15, 1922.|
|↑9||”Rogers Drops Dead”, Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1935.|
U.S connections to Ireland remain strong
Irish Americans continue to embrace their heritage due to lasting interests in Irish history and culture, and positive perceptions of Irish identity in the United States, according to a new poll. The results are heartening considering that most Irish Americans are now several generations removed from their immigrant ancestors.
“The findings highlight an across-the-board belief that the best way to sustain this connection is to provide more opportunities for young Irish-Americans to study, volunteer and work in Ireland,” The Irish Times reports. That includes more support for Irish studies programs in U.S. colleges and universities, and immigration reform for Irish immigrants in America.
Other highlights include:
- Given a list of what most attracts them to their Irish heritage, 33 percent selected Irish history, followed by 24 percent who picked Irish music. Travel in Ireland was 11 percent.
- Nearly one third (31 percent) said peaceful reunification of Ireland is the most important issue for American politicians to address in relation to Ireland, followed by two-way trade investment at 29 percent. Only 6 percent picked support for the Good Friday Agreement.
- Religious identity continues to decline: 47 percent said they were either Catholic or Raised Catholic, but only 12 are regularly attend Mass, while 15 percent said they were raised Catholic but no longer identify with the faith. Another 19 percent identified as Protestant, while 16 percent identify as non-religious, and 15 percent said other religions.
A sample of 736 Irish-Americans were interviewed in January by Change Research, and the results have a 3.8 percent margin of error. Glucksman Ireland House at New York University, and the Council for American Irish Relations commissioned the poll. See the full survey analysis, which coincides with the start of Irish-American Heritage Month and St. Patrick’s Day.
“Ireland and the United States are forever bound together by our people and our passion. Everything between us runs deep,” President Joe Biden said in the annual heritage month proclamation, which dates to 1991. “In the years ahead, I look forward to strengthening the partnership between our countries and the friendship between our people even further.” Biden is expected to travel to Ireland later this year.
See these Irish-American heritage resources:
- U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (includes my 2017 story for Prologue magazine, “Ireland’s Famine Children ‘Born at Sea’ “)
- Library of Congress
- U.S. Census Bureau
This post was revised March 7, 2023, to provide a link to the full survey. MH
Ruth Russell’s ‘Ireland’ at Harvard library
I’ve written several pieces about Ruth Russell, the Chicago Daily News correspondent who in 1919 covered the early months of the Irish War of Independence. Notably, she lived in the Dublin slums to report about poor women and children. On her return to America, Russell expanded her newspaper dispatches into the 1920 book What’s the matter with Ireland? As an advocate for Irish independence, she protested with other women outside the British Embassy in Washington, D.C., and testified before the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland.See Beginnings; Correspondent; Activist; Witness; Afterward; and Ruth Russell remembered in stone … 57 years later
Russell’s 103-year-old book is available online. Until recently, the only hard copy I’d seen was requested from storage at the Library of Congress in Washington. But I found What’s the matter with Ireland? while exploring the stacks at Harvard’s flagship Harry Elkins Widener Memorial Library.
Harvard acquired the book on Oct. 7, 1920, according to the date stamp on the copyright page. Borrowers checked out the book 10 times during its first year in the library, as recorded by the due dates stamped on a schedule pasted to the inside back cover. These dates are shown below with select Irish-related news and other content from that day’s Boston Globe. The mix of local and international events offers a thumbnail sketch of events during the last year of the war as Harvard students or faculty read Russell’s book.
- Nov. 20, 1920: John Derham, town commissioner of Balbriggan, and Francis Hackett, associate editor of The New Republic, testified at the American Committee on Conditions in Ireland hearings in Washington, D.C. Russell testified to the commission on Dec. 15, 1920. (See image of the Globe’s story below.)
- Jan. 8, 1921: The censorship trial of Capuchin chaplain Fr. Dominic O’Connor, charged with making statements “likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty,” opened in Dublin. Convicted and sentenced to prison later that month, he was released on general amnesty upon ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922.
- Jan. 21, 1921: Lord Mayor of Cork Donal O’Callaghan, a stowaway to America after the December 1920 British rampage in the city, said he would surrender to U.S. immigration authorities.
- Feb. 9, 1921: British Prime Minister David Lloyd George said he offered Ireland a greater measure of home rule than Gladstone or Asquith. “But they won’t take it. … They must have an Irish Republic, an Irish Army, an Irish Navy. They won’t get it.”
- Feb. 19, 1921: The Moore & McCormack cargo line advertised a Feb. 23 sailing from Boston to Belfast, Cork, and Dublin. The service, which began in September 1919 from Philadelphia, was citied by Sinn Féin as an example of Ireland’s commercial independence. The route was discontinued in 1925.See An American reporters in 1920 Ireland: Industry.
- March 16, 1921: Fr. John W. Meehan of Castlebar, County Mayo, continued to address local groups interested in Irish independence and conditions in the country. He arrived in Boston two months earlier.
- April 4, 1921: A front-page Associated Press report said that “competent observers” believed prospects for peace in Ireland had brightened since St. Patrick’s Day.
- May 11, 1921: More than 300 delegates representing 146 councils of the Massachusetts State Council of the Knights of Columbus adopted a resolution favoring immediate recognition of the Republic of Ireland. … “Pure linen” handkerchiefs imported from Belfast were on sale at 29 cents each at Chandler & Co. on Tremont Street.
- Oct. 4, 1921: The Associated Press reported that “numerous newspapers writers and photographers” were permitted to observe an Irish Republican Army battalion in the Wicklow Mountains south of Dublin. “Throughout Ireland drilling and inspections of this kind have been proceeding since the truce was signed (in July),” the story said.
- Oct. 25, 1921: Éamon de Valera’s message to Pope Benedict XV regarding “formally proclaimed” independence of Ireland stirred “the first real crisis” in negotiations toward a peace agreement with Great Britain, the AP reported. The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed Dec. 6, 1921.
It’s unclear if any of the Harvard borrowers paid the 5 cents per day fine for returning the book after the stamped due date. Interest in Russell’s book waned after the treaty. The next three due dates were May 19, 1931; Sept. 18, 1946; and May 28, 1955. The book remained shelved for 41 years, then was checked out three more times in April and May 1996.
Subsequent activity–if any–was recorded on electronic library systems and cannot be retrieved, according to the librarian who checked out the book for me. I was curious whether there was activity at the centenary of the Irish revolution and 100th anniversary of the book’s publication.
The online Quercus Rare Books offers an original hardcover inscribed by Russell for $250. It says: “To the President of the Irish Republic Eamon de Valera, with best wishes from a citizen of the United States.” Below the inscription is the stamp from de Valera’s library. De Valera provided a Jan. 29, 1920, letter praising Russell’s work, which appears as front matter in the book. Quercus also offers an unsigned first edition in “very good plus” condition (below “Near Fine” and “Fine”) for $100.
The back pages of Russell’s book contained advertisements for three other contemporary Irish titles from publisher Devin-Adair: The Invincible Irish, by J.C. Walsh; Why God Loves The Irish, by Humphry J. Desmond; and The Irish Rebellion of 1916 And Its Martyrs–Erin’s Tragic Easter, a collection of essays by eight writers. While it’s great these titles are available online, nothing beats the feel and smell of on old book pulled from the library shelf.
|↑1||See Beginnings; Correspondent; Activist; Witness; Afterward; and Ruth Russell remembered in stone … 57 years later|
|↑2||See An American reporters in 1920 Ireland: Industry.|
Guest post: Bringing American football to the Emerald Isle
Colum Cronin is co-founder and executive producer of the Irish NFL Show, a weekly podcast that combines insightful post-game analysis and good craic. A Denver Broncos fan, he has worked in higher education for 15 years, welcoming study abroad students from the United States to Dublin. Visit www.irishnflshow.com, or the verified Twitter account, @IreNFL. MH
During the 2020 COVID lockdowns, a group of Irish lads came together to start the Irish NFL Show. What began as a video podcast hobby to maintain our sanity has continued to grow and become the largest NFL program on the island of Ireland. It has gained respect on both sides of the Atlantic, with the aim of providing an Irish slant and insight on American football, as well as bringing key figures, guests, and U.S. views to an Irish audience.
Over the past three years we have released hundreds of episodes, presented live shows at historic Irish venues such as Croke Park and Aviva Stadium, and broadcast from the NFL’s international games in London and Munich. Our crowning moment was hosting a show live from SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles for the 2022 Super Bowl, with technical support from broadcaster CBS. On Feb. 12, we will cover this year’s Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona.
The story of how we became interested in the sport goes back more than 30 years. RTÉ (Ireland’s national broadcast network) began showing NFL games in 1985. However, the highlights, which were broadcast on Monday nights, were not from the weekend that had just ended, but from the one before that! This worked at the time because there was no coverage of the NFL in the Irish press and no internet for fans to check on score. The Super Bowl was only live game shown on Irish television screens.
Despite these slim pickings for NFL fans, people nevertheless grew to love the game. As the years rolled on, offerings slowly began to grow, with smatterings of highlight shows and games broadcast on the U.K.’s Channel 4. Fans also heard stories of their friends’ transatlantic visits to NFL stadiums across America. The pageantry of the live experience, including pre-game tailgating, was unlike anything in Ireland.
Over time a niche of the Irish population fell in love with American football and, indeed, this love stretched across all the teams in the NFL. My co-founder Brian O’Leary is a New York Giants fan, Mark Cockerill cheers for the New England Patriots.
The connections between Ireland and America are deep and historic, and these roots also exist through the NFL: from Paddy O’Driscoll, who played in the 1920s, to Tom Brady, from the influence of the Rooney and McCaskey families, as well as through coaches, players, and executives over the 100+ years of the league’s existence.
Our focus is on the expansion and growth of the game and delivering high-quality content and insights to the Irish and a wider international audience. In addition to discussing the latest news and trends in the NFL, we host a variety of guests, including current and former players, coaches, and other personalities from the league. Our guests have included: Rich Eisen, Mina Kimes, Hall of Famer Rod Woodson, Colleen Wolfe, Joe Schoen, Jane Slater, Mickey Loomis, Justin Simmons, Kalyn Kahler, Super Bowl Champion Aqib Talib, and Tom Telesco.
Given the history of friendship between the United States and Ireland we are also proud to have established a strong relationship with the U.S. Embassy in Dublin. Deputy Chief of Mission Christopher Wurtz joined our first Super Bowl show in February 2021. We were delighted to be invited to join U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Claire D. Cronin at the official residence in the Phoenix Park for the Fourth of July.
Our audience is a mix of people who grew up in Ireland, American expats living in Ireland, Irish people living in America, and other international fans of the NFL. Despite coming from different backgrounds, we’ve found that these different groups of fans have one main thing in common: they all share a love for the sport and a desire to stay connected to the NFL.
We also see similarities, as many Irish fans do, between the NFL and our national sports of Gaelic football and hurling. Like American football, these sports are physical and high-scoring, and they also have a strong sense of history, tradition, and are deeply rooted in their communities.
We continue to evolve the show to make it stronger and better each year. Kalle Ryan, award-winning writer and spoken word poet, has joined as host and moderator. Khristina Quigley has joined as a panelist.
As we gear up for this year’s Super Bowl, we are excited to bring our viewers all the latest news and analysis. We will be airing special episodes of the show in the days leading up to the big game, featuring interviews with players and coaches, analysis of the matchup, and discussions of the Super Bowl’s significance and history.
We have been excited to see interest and excitement about the NFL grow in Ireland over the past few years. We started the show with the goal of providing a platform for Irish fans of the NFL to stay up to date on all the latest news and analysis. Looking to the future, we are committed to continuing to grow the Irish NFL Show and bring more coverage to Irish audiences.
Maybe one year the Super Bowl will be played in Dublin!
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 previous contributors.
A ‘quiet day’ in Ireland’s civil war, 1923
Irish Free State representatives and anti-Free State republicans early in January 1923 confronted each other over control of $2.5 million of bond funds raised in the United States. As the showdown unfolded at the the Irish consulate in New York City, some U.S. newspapers suggested the Irish civil war had to come to America. The “Battle of Nassau Street””Irish Picketing Hylan, Riot Call From Consulate”, Daily News (New York City), Jan. 3, 1923. ended without violence after three days, but wrangling over the bonds continued until the 1930s.
In Ireland, the real civil war raged into its seventh month. U.S. papers detailed political efforts to resolve the internecine conflict and brief stories about episodes of violence. Denis O’Connell, an Irish-born correspondent for the Heart-owned Universal Service news wire, filed a Jan. 27, 1923, dispatch that attempted to give American readers a more comprehensive view of the suffering in Ireland, even on “quiet” days when there wasn’t “big news.” He described the shooting deaths and injuries to dozens of people, plus bombings, postal holdups, and railroad vandalism, with just a sentence or two devoted to each episode. O’Connell gave particular attention to the women “irregulars” fighting against the Free State government:
The soldiers do not search women in Dublin. Women frequently have thrown bombs in Dublin and used revolvers with deadly effect. Women have been caught in the mountains and wayside dugouts, shouldering rifles and sharing with the men all the hardships and exposure.
O’Connell, a native of Cork city, was educated at the local Christian Brothers schools and began his career at the Cork Free Press. His coverage of the 1913 Dublin lockout caught the attention of the Heart-owned International News Service, which hired him as a London-based correspondent.”Mr. Denis O’Connell” obituary, The Irish Press, May 18, 1949. The forename of his byline frequently appeared as “Daniel,” the same as Ireland’s 19th century “Liberator.” It’s unclear whether this was a pseudonym or garbled in the cable transmission. The byline appears both ways in multiple U.S. papers throughout the Irish revolutionary period.
O’Connell interviewed Éamon de Valera at his home in Dublin shortly after the Jan. 7, 1922, Anglo-Irish Treaty vote: ” ‘I am giving you the first authorized statement I have given to any press man since the beginning of the negotiations,’ said the Sinn Fein chieftain as he paced the floor. De Valera spoke carefully, slowly weighing every word before he uttered it.””New Regime Begins Rule For Ireland”, Oakland Tribune, Jan. 16, 1922; and “Mr. De Valera Interviewed”, Irish Examiner, Jan. 17, 1922.
Universal Service, which belonged to the Hearst empire in 1923, merged with International News in 1937. Other Irish and English journalists, based in Ireland and in England, worked for U.S. newspapers and wire services during the revolutionary period. O’Connell later became a correspondent for the Daily Express in Cork. He died in London in 1949.
|↑1||”Irish Picketing Hylan, Riot Call From Consulate”, Daily News (New York City), Jan. 3, 1923.|
|↑2||”Mr. Denis O’Connell” obituary, The Irish Press, May 18, 1949.|
|↑3||”New Regime Begins Rule For Ireland”, Oakland Tribune, Jan. 16, 1922; and “Mr. De Valera Interviewed”, Irish Examiner, Jan. 17, 1922.|
Ten Irish stories to watch in 2023
Happy New Year. Here are 10 stories to watch in 2023 in Ireland and Irish America:
- The 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement is in April. Queens University Belfast plans to recognize the milestone, which certainly will draw American participation.
- Ongoing negotiations over the Brexit trade “protocol” between Northern Ireland, other parts of Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland, remains a contentious issue that threatens peace in the province. Yea, it’s confusing. Here’s an explainer from the BBC.
- Resolving the protocol also is key to restoring the Northern Ireland Assembly, which the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has blocked from operating since losing the majority to Sinn Féin in the May 2022 election. A new election is expected this spring.
- In addition to fixing the protocol and holding the election, the May coronation of King Charles III could have some impact on relations between unionists and nationalists in the North, if only symbolically. For perspective, Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation occurred 15 years before the start of the Troubles. Charles has already signaled his impatience with the DUP’s tactics.
- May also marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the Irish Civil War in what was then called the Irish Free State. This will be the conclusion of the 12-year-long “Decade of Centenaries,” which began in 2012 with remembrances of the introduction of the third home rule bill and signing of the Ulster Covenant. It has included the centenary of World War I, the 1916 Easter Rising, and the Irish War of Independence.
- U.S. President Joe Biden appears likely to travel to Ireland this year. His last visit was 2016 as vice president. In December, Biden named former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, grandson of the late U.S. Sen. Robert Kennedy, as special envoy to Northern Ireland to focus on economic development and investment opportunities.
- Irish tourism reached 73 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2022, but industry officials are bracing for only single-digit growth or a potential decline in 2023. Full recovery to 2019 levels is not expected until 2026, the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation said.
- Met Éireann, the Irish weather service, says 2022 was the warmest year in Ireland’s history and the 12th consecutive year of above-normal temperatures. Climate change will continue to impact daily life, the economy, and politics on both sides of the border.
- Interim measures were announced last fall to sort out financial troubles at the American Irish Historical Society and Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum, in New York City and Connecticut, respectively. It’s worth keeping an eye on these important organizations to be sure both are fully restored.
- Finally, here’s something that will not happen on the island of Ireland in 2023: a reunification referendum. See the “North and South” package of polling and stories from The Irish Times.
Best of the Blog, 2022
Welcome to my tenth annual Best of the Blog, a roundup of the year’s work. July marked our milestone tenth anniversary, with more than 900 total posts since 2012. I appreciate the support of regular readers, especially email subscribers. (Join at right.) Thanks also to the archivists and librarians who assisted my research during the year, whether in person or remote. I visited collections at Princeton University, Harvard University, Boston College, and Boston Public Library for the first time, and returned to archives at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., and the Dioceses of Pittsburgh. … Special thanks to Professor Guy Beiner, director of the Irish Studies Program at BC, for his warm welcome this fall.
I added two dozen posts to my American Reporting of Irish Independence series, which totals more than 140 entries since December 2018, including several from guest contributors. This year I began circling back to earlier years of the Irish revolution. Highlights included:
- Ireland’s forgotten records fire of 1922
- Two Irish immigrant journalists return home, Part 1
- Two Irish immigrant journalists return home, Part 2
- ‘Don’t get shot.’ Samuel Duff McCoy’s Ireland travels
- American journalists describe Michael Collins, 1919-1922
- Selling Irish history & politics books: Hackett & Creel
- Reporter v. reporter: Ackerman & Grasty in Ireland
- ‘Irish Bulletin’ subscription replies
FREELANCE STORIES & PRESENTATIONS:
I was pleased to publish stories with several new platforms (*) this year and delighted to give a virtual presentation to the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh:
‘Luminous In Its Presentation’:
The Pittsburgh Catholic and Revolutionary Ireland, 1912-1923
*Gathered Fragments: Annual journal of the Catholic Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania (Publishes late December 2022/early January 2023)
The Long Road to ‘Redress’ in Ireland
History News Network, (George Washington University), Oct. 30, 2022
My Pilgrimages to St. Patrick’s Churches
*Arlington Catholic Herald & syndicated by *Catholic News Service, March 11, 2022
The Irish Revolution in Pittsburgh
*Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, Feb. 17, 2022, presentation linked from headline
At 50th Anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” Peace Feels Less Certain
History News Network, (George Washington University), Jan. 30, 2022
Cheers and Jeers for Ireland: Éamon De Valera’s Alabama Experience
*Alabama Heritage Magazine, Winter 2022
Thanks to this year’s four guest contributors, detailed below. Journalists, historians, authors, researchers, and travelers to Ireland are welcome to offer submissions. Use the contact form on the Guest Posts landing page to make a suggestion.
Journalists recall coverage challenges during Northern Ireland Troubles: Daniel Carey is a PhD student at Dublin City University. His thesis examines the working lives of former journalists and editors in Ireland.
Pro-Treaty delegation in Pittsburgh, May 1922: Dr. Anne Good Forrestal, a former lecturer in Sociology at Trinity College Dublin, is the granddaughter of Seán and Delia MacCaoilte. In spring 1922, he was part of the pro-Treaty delegation that visited America, including a stop in Pittsburgh. This story is based on one of his letters from the city.
Detailing the Crosbies of North Kerry: Michael Christopher Keane is a retired University College Cork lecturer and author of three books about the Crosbies, leading and often controversial landlord families in County Kerry for over 300 years.
Periodicals & Journalism in Twentieth-Century Ireland: Felix M. Larkin and Mark O’Brien have edited two volumes of essays that focus on periodicals as a vehicle for news and commentary, rather than literary miscellany.
BEST OF THE REST:
These stories were the most popular outside the “American reporting” and “Guest posts” series:
‘St. John’ wreck recalled on South Shore Irish Heritage Trail
Highlights of earlier work found here:
- Best of the Blog, 2021
- Best of the Blog, 2020
- Best of the Blog, 2019
- Best of the Blog, 2018
- Best of the Blog, 2017
- Best of the Blog, 2016
- Best of the Blog, 2015
- Best of the Blog, 2014
- Best of the Blog, 2013
I plan to spend the first half of 2023 in Cambridge, Mass., as my wife completes her Nieman fellowship at Harvard. I will continue to participate in BC’s Irish Studies Program. I also hope to finish my book on how American reporters covered the Irish revolutionary period as the “decade of centenaries” concludes in May with the 100th anniversary of the end of the Irish Civil War. God willing, I hope to travel to Ireland for the first time since shortly before the pandemic.
Best wishes to all,
‘Irish Bulletin’ subscription replies, December 1921
The “Irish Papers” collection at Boston Public Library contains letters, documents, pamphlets, and other material related to the Irish War of Independence and Civil War, 1919-1923. I recently reviewed portions of the collection related to press activity in Ireland during the period as part of my American Reporting of Irish Independence series and book project. MH
The Irish Bulletin debuted in November 1919 as the official organ of the provisional Irish Republic. Its original press run of less than 50 copies grew to about 1,200 over two years.See Bureau of Military History Witness Statement of Kathleen Napoli-McKenna, who worked at the Bulletin, p. 5. Readers included political insiders on both sides of the Irish Sea, the continent, and across the Atlantic, including American and other foreign journalists.
The Bulletin operated underground for most of its exitance. It effectively countered British propaganda and helped make the Irish republican case before the world. British operatives raided the Bulletin’s Dublin offices in March 1921 and soon published a forged edition, which fooled few readers. After the July 1921 truce, the Bulletin emerged from the shadows as Irish and British representatives began to negotiate a treaty settlement.
On Nov. 25, 1921, the Bulletin “manager” mailed a circular to known recipients from Mansion House, Dublin, likely working from the publication’s daily and weekly lists of names and addresses as of late July 1921.Held by Bureau of the Military History, Dublin. Reference Code BMH-CD-006-09-16(k) and Reference Code BMH-CD-006-09-16(l), respectively. The circular stated:
The circumstances of the situation in Ireland have hitherto prevented direct communications between the readers of the IRISH BULLETIN and those responsible for its publication. This difficulty does not at present exist, and if recipients wish to communicate with the publishers they can do so (via Mansion House). We shall be glad to hear from those who receive the BULLETIN as to change of address, non-receipt, etc. … If no such acknowledgement reaches (the manager) he will discontinue sending the BULLETIN to that address.
A follow up circular mailed Dec. 12, 1921, said, “We have had no acknowledgement from you … (and) would be glad if you will let us know whether the copies of the BULLETIN sent you have arrived.”
The “Irish Papers” collection contains 216 replies, most of them on the bottom of either the first or second circular. John Steele, the Chicago Tribune‘s London correspondent, replied to the first notice with “many thanks for the Bulletin which is being received regularly.” He often referenced the Bulletin in his dispatches to America, but the Dec. 7, 1921, story clipped here appears to be the last time. Steele and American journalist Carl Ackerman, also on the Bulletin’s daily recipients list, in 1920 and 1921 shuttled between Irish and British officials to assist negotiations leading to the treaty, as detailed our previous post.
Other Americans on the Bulletin’s daily mailing list included:
- The American Consul’s office, Dublin
- Clemens J. France, leader of the American Committee for Relief in Ireland, Dublin
- Associated Press of America, London
- P.J. Kelly, Irish-born correspondent of the New York World, Dublin
- John H. McHugh Stuart, New York Herald, London
- Webb Miller, United Press, London
- E.C. Reeves, International News Service, London
- Frank P. Walsh, a member of the American Commission on Irish Independence that visited Ireland in May 1919, and other activities, New York
American recipients on the Bulletin’s weekly mailing list included the Irish Diplomatic Mission, Washington, D.C.; Notre Dame University library, Indiana; and nearly 50 chapters of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic (AARIR), which splintered from the Friends of Irish Freedom in late 1920 to support Éamon de Valera. Almost 100 newspapers and magazines are on the list, most of them Catholic weeklies. The list included secular Irish papers such as The Irish News and Chicago Citizen; The Irish Press, Philadelphia, The Irish Standard, Minneapolis; The Irish World and American Industrial Liberator, New York City; the Kentucky Irish American, Louisville; and a few labor organs. Mainstream press included The Nation magazine, which backed the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland in late 1920 and early 1921; and The New York Times, hardly a supporter of Irish independence at any time.
The Pennsylvania state chapter of the AARIR, based in Philadelphia, and the Catholic Sentinel of Portland, Oregon, nearly 7,500 miles from Dublin, are among the American groups that replied to the circular, as contained in the Boston archive.
English author G. K. Chesterton, who wrote a book and newspaper columns in favor of Irish independence, also sent a hand-written note to the Bulletin, apparently after reading the second notice:
“I hope you will forgive both delay & haste, as I am in a domestic rush. I certainly supposed I had read all of the issues of the Bulletin sent to me, with great interest and admiration for the ability and sincerity with which your case is argued; but it is clear that I missed the one you mention, or I should have sent the acknowledgement before. Yours very truly,”
The Bulletin ceased publication on Dec. 11, 1921, after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London, as referenced in Steele’s story above. The timing of the paper’s closure suggests some miscommunication among the editorial staff and other treaty supporters, or possibly disappointment with the subscriber notification response.
“With the coming of the Truce “The Irish Bulletin” on which I had the honour to work, had successfully completed its mission,” Kathleen Napoli-McKenna says in her Bureau of Military History Witness Statement, linked in Note 1. (She seems to mean the treaty.) “I recall the days of my work on the Bulletin with a deep sense of nostalgic happiness.”
Subsequent iterations of the Bulletin were published by anti-treaty forces through spring 1923.
See earlier posts on the 100th anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Treaty:
Dec. 6, 1921: When U.S. newspapers headlined Irish peace
Irish-American press reactions to Anglo-Irish Treaty
‘The Republic of Ireland is dead; long live … ‘
(This post was updated Dec. 13, 2022.)
|↑1||See Bureau of Military History Witness Statement of Kathleen Napoli-McKenna, who worked at the Bulletin, p. 5.|
|↑2||Held by Bureau of the Military History, Dublin. Reference Code BMH-CD-006-09-16(k) and Reference Code BMH-CD-006-09-16(l), respectively.|
Reprise: Speechwriter behind Obama’s Irish references
UPDATE: Cody Keenan’s Grace: President Obama and Ten Days in the Battle for America, released in October by HarperCollins, is the subject of this Nov. 11 Irish Times‘ podcast.
Barack Obama has given some 3,000 speeches since entering the White House in 2009, and about 1 percent of them have included strong references to Ireland. That might not seem like much at first glance, but there’s hardly another country or subject that gets as many mentions from the presidential podium.
“The Irish have a stranglehold on one full day,” Obama speechwriter Cody Keenan told the 15 September gathering of Irish Network-DC. “They get three speeches on St. Patrick’s Day.”
That’s 24 speeches over eight years. Other notable Obama talks involving Ireland have included his May 2011 visit to the Republic and June 2013 trip to Northern Ireland, plus his 2009 eulogy of Sen. Ted Kennedy and 2015 remarks at the funeral of Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden.
For Keenan, an Irish-American with ancestral roots to Dublin and Cork, the 2011 College Green speech was a plum assignment. “It’s rare you get to write about something you have such personal passion about,” he said.
Keenan noted that the president “is his own chief speechwriter. … We take all our cues from him.”