Category Archives: Irish America

Remembering Emmet at midsummer blogiversary

I hope regular readers and occasional visitors to this blog are enjoying their summer. This post concludes our eleventh year, which included a temporary relocation to Boston and return to Washington, D.C. Here, one of my regular walks takes me by the statue of Irish patriot Robert Emmet.

Since 1966–the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising–the statue has been located in the 2400 block of Massachusetts Avenue, known as “Embassy Row.” It’s a 5-minute walk from the Embassy of Ireland on Sheridan Circle, and a block from the historic Woodrow Wilson House. As a second-term U.S. president, Wilson attended the June 1917 unveiling of the statue by Kerry-born sculpture Jerome Connor. “Heckling suffragettes” briefly disrupted the ceremony as they unrolled a banner that asked: “Why laud patriotic struggles of the past and suppress struggles for freedom at your gates?”[1]”Two Arrested With A Banner at Emmet Statue Exercises”, The Washington Post, June 29, 1917. American women secured the right to vote three years later as it became clear that Wilson was no supporter of Irish independence.

I continue to pursue my research about how American journalists reported the Irish struggle, both in Ireland and in America. More posts ahead. Thanks for your continued support of the blog. MH



1 ”Two Arrested With A Banner at Emmet Statue Exercises”, The Washington Post, June 29, 1917.

Arthur Gleason’s ‘inside’ reporting of post-Rising Ireland

(This post continues my exploration of how American journalists covered the Irish revolution. Visit the project landing page to access earlier work and resources. MH)

The United States’ April 1917 entry into the First World War had two immediate impacts on Ireland: increased scrutiny of Irish American efforts to support the revolution in ally Britain’s backyard, first exposed a year earlier during the Easter Rising; and more American newspaper correspondents based in London to cover the arrival and battlefield engagements of U.S. troops on the continent. In addition to their eastward journeys across the English Channel from Dover to Calais, these reporters also travelled westward across the Irish Sea, usually boarding the overnight mail boats from Holyhead to Dublin.

Arthur H. Gleason, date unknown

Arthur H. Gleason was among the first American journalists to assess post-Rising Irish nationalism within the British Empire. Born in 1878 in Newark, N.J., he graduated from Yale University in 1901 and joined the New York Tribune as a reporter. For 10 years from 1903 Gleason worked as a writer and editor at Cosmopolitan, Country Life in America, and Collier’s Weekly magazines. At the outbreak of the war in 1914, he joined the Red Cross and served with the Hector Munro Ambulance Corps in Belgium. Gleason was briefly captured by the Germans, but managed to escape and report his observations of the front lines, including several popular books about the war, notably Golden Lads, co-written with his wife.[1]“Arthur Gleason papers, 1863-1931”, MSS18382, Library of Congress, and multiple newspaper obituaries.

Gleason rejoined the Tribune in 1916 as a European correspondent as U.S. entry into the war became inevitable. Arthur Draper, another of the paper’s London correspondents, had covered the Rising in Dublin. He was “an outspoken proponent of including interpretation in foreign news reports,” rather than the just-the-facts presentation of the wire services.[2]Gerald L. Fetner (2017) Modern Foreign Correspondents after World War I: The New York Evening Post‘s David Lawrence and Simeon Strunsky, American Journalism, 34:3, pp. 313-332. Gleason wrote a series of articles for the Tribune‘s op-ed pages that aimed to educate readers about war conditions in Great Britain. He also produced articles on the same topic for Century Magazine. This work was collected nearly word-for-word as the book Inside the British Isles, published in spring 1917.


Gleason made what he described as a “brief visit” to Ireland, apparently before the end of 1916, to detail nationalist restiveness. “Sane opinion in Ireland is well aware that in any solution Ireland remains inside the federation of the British commonwealth,” he wrote, “but the status toward which the intelligent Irish work is that of a self-governing nation, like the free colonies.”[3]Arthur Gleason, Inside The British Isle (New York: The Century Co., 1917), p. 173.

Gleason’s analysis focused more on economic, market, and labor conditions than politics. He reported:

The real Irish question is poverty. … The slums of Irish cities are among the worst in Europe. … Many of the farms are too small for economic working, and what there is of them is not good enough soil. Much of the best tillage remains in the hands of landlords and is used for grazing instead of the production of crops. The hope of Ireland lies in trade unionism, education, and cooperation. Ireland’s real problem is to increase production and distribute prosperity.[4]Ibid, pp. 206-209, and “Poverty: The Real Irish Question”, New York Tribune, April 11, 1917.

Gleason viewed wealthy Irish Americans as an important source of this hope. At the time of his visit, he “found Ireland stimulated” by the news that Henry Ford proposed building a tractor factory in Cork city, near the industrialist’s ancestral homeland. The reporter continued:

If the very rumor (of Ford’s plant) has given cheer to an underpaid population, how much new hope will flow in if Irish Americans whose hearts bleed for Ireland will invest some of their money in Irish agriculture and industry. A few million dollars invested where the heart is will relieve a pressure on Ireland, which today is resulting in bad housing, undernourishment, overwork and an undue proportion of pauperism. The real Irish question is not solved by political wrangling and chronically jangled nerves inside the island, nor by hot temper at long distance. The Irish Americans who have planted the tradition of Ireland’s wrongs inside the United States are two generations out of date. … American money is not needed for nationalist propaganda. It is needed for agricultural and industrial development. Our rich Irish Americans can do an immense service to Ireland. They can aid to set her free. But not by parliamentary debates, speech-making campaigns, and pitiful abortive rebellions. They can set her free by standing security for land improvement, better housing, the purchase of machinery and fertilizer plants.

Gleason interviewed and quoted English social and economic academics such as Graham Wallas, Sir Alfred Eckhard Zimmern, and Sir George G. Butler. He also discussed matters with Irish nationalist writers and journalists James Stephens and George William Russell, known by the pseudonym AE, and he quoted Ulster leader Sir Edward Carson. Gleason did not meet or mention Sinn Féin leaders Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera, and Michael Collins, who were incarcerated by the British at the time.


Gleason spoke with Dublin-born Lord Northcliffe, a powerful press baron of London’s Fleet Street. The reporter devoted one of his Tribune op-eds and a chapter of his book to a comparison of the British, Irish, and American press. He wrote:

I think the little independent spirited Irish weeklies are admirable. They sass the censor and the Lord Lieutenant and the (Dublin) Castle. I met some of the editors—poor men and honest, editing and writing papers in which they believe. They seem to me worth all the sleek, timid New York crowd put together. … A man believes something hard, and, being Irish, he has the knack of statement, so he publishes a paper.[5]Inside, p. 263, and “A Batch of Papers”, New York Tribune, May 10, 1917.

New York Tribune headline of Gleason’s May 10, 1917, piece on the press.

Privately, Gleason shared drafts of his Irish reporting with key sources for their approval before publication, a common practice at the time but anathema to most modern journalists. His regular correspondents included Butler and Lord Eustace Percy, a British diplomat.

“Butler has handed me your article on Ireland: neither of us feel quite comfortable about making ourselves responsible for it to the extent of giving it special facilities for transmission to America as it stands at present,” Percy wrote to Gleason, then living in Hove, Sussex, on the English Channel coastline 65 miles south of London. “My criticism of your article is not that it is hostile to this country (though I think that is the net effect of it) but that it is not really calculated to enlighten America. … You are carrying coals to Newscastle in writing for America sentimental impressionism about great political problems.”[6]Percy to Gleason, Dec. 28, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.

Gleason replied two days later.[7]Gleason to Percy, Dec. 30, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers. He agreed to make some “modifications” to the content and withdraw other passages from his Tribune and Century dispatches; but not from the book, which he argued provided fuller context of the relationship between the two islands. “I want the article to be passed,” Gleason wrote, an acknowledgement of the realities of war-time censorship in Britain, which would soon to be duplicated in America. “I think you will agree I have met you seven eighths of the way.”

Gleason bristled at Percy’s charge of sentimental impressionism. “That which is excellent in Belgium and Serbia does not become ‘sentimental’ or selfish in Poland or Ireland. It merely remains the same principal for which French and English (and soon Americas) are fighting—the right of self-government.”


Gleason’s reporting from Ireland was subject to further editing. Soon after the publication of Inside The British Isles, he wrote to Douglas Z. Doty, editor at the Century publishing company, to complain that “heavy hunks” of content totaling 16 pages had been cut from the manuscript. “Everything that explains the state of mind, everything that voices the young men, has disappeared,” Gleason complained. “Poems, quotations, the statement of a young rebel to me, all have disappeared.”[8]Gleason to Doty, June 4, 1917, Arthur Gleason papers.

Praise for Gleason’s book came from papers within the British Isles. Belfast Newsletter, April 1, 1918.

He questioned whether the missing material resulted from “editorial exigency” in New York or censorship by the British Foreign Office, which he claimed had approved the manuscript. The missing material, according to Gleason, included quotes from several Irish political leaders, among them Helena Malony, a 1916 Easter Rising participant and member of Cumann na mBan, the Irish republican women’s paramilitary organization. Malony’s feminism and labor activism were especially relevant to Gleason’s broader social and economic interests.

Also missing from the book, Gleason wrote, were his analysis of the Dublin rebellion; a tribute to the Gaelic League and similar Irish organizations; a poem written by executed Rising leader Pádraic Pearse; and references to The White Headed Boy, a 1916 comedy drama by Irish playwright Lennox Robinson.

Nevertheless, Inside the British Isles won praise on both sides of the Atlantic. “It is welcome as a contribution to the discussion which is not merely of interest to Ireland, but to thousands of Irish well-wishers and sympathizers in this country,” said one American review.[9]”The Irish Problem”, Buffalo (N.Y.) News, Aug. 27, 1917. An advertisement in the Irish press (image) collected several favorable reviews.


Gleason returned to America as Irish separatists launched a guerilla war against the British military and police in Ireland. He continued to work on labor and economic issues through the New York-based Bureau of Industrial Research and with social reformer Paul Underwood Kellogg. They co-authored British Labor and the War in 1919. But Gleason’s insights about Ireland were called upon again in late 1920.

Oswald Garrison Villard, editor of the weekly liberal journal the Nation, organized the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland on behalf of pro-Irish interests. He invited dozens of U.S. senators, state governors, big city mayors, college presidents and professors, religious leaders, newspaper editors, and other prominent citizens to form and oversee the eight-member panel of inquiry, which was not affiliated with the U.S. government. Villard and his supporters also intended to send a five-member investigative team to Ireland, including Gleason.

Other members of the proposed delegation included:

  • Major Oliver P. Newman, a journalist, sociologist, former Washington, D.C. commissioner and U.S. Army veteran of the Great War;
  • Rev. Norman Thomas, a Presbyterian minister, socialist political candidate, and publisher of the World Tomorrow;
  • James H. Mauer, a progressive labor leader and president of the Pennsylvania State Federation of Labor; and
  • Robert Morse Lovett, dean of the University of Chicago.

For several weeks in November and December 1920 the New York Tribune, Gleason’s former employer, and other American newspapers published conflicting reports about whether the group would, or would not, be issued passports to visit Ireland; based on the approval or objections of the U.S. or British governments. The dispute continued as the commission, which included Newman, Thomas, and Mauer, opened public hearings on conditions in Ireland at a Washington hotel.

Privately, Gleason was skeptical of the investigative delegation to which he was publicly named. “Unless the strongest kind of commission is sent to England and Ireland, it will be better to send none at all,” he wrote to Villard. “To send a half dozen unknown or slightly known persons will injure the cause of good-will you have at heart. The work will be discredited, or treated with indifference and irony.”[10]Gleason to Villard, Nov. 24, 1920, in Oswald Garrison Villard Papers, 1872-1949 (MS Am 1323), Harvard University, Box 37, Irish Commission, 1920-1921.

Gleason subsequently complained there were too many socialists in the proposed group, with “no bishop, no judge, no ‘big’ business man. So idealistic a commission will not avail.”[11]Ibid. “Since writing the above…” handwritten on same letter.

The proposed delegation scuttled by the time the commission concluded its hearings in January 1921. A month later another group of American investigators travelled to Ireland as part of an overlapping effort called the American Committee for Relief in Ireland. This group’s account of distress in Ireland was released within days of the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland report based on the Washington hearing testimony. Pro-Irish supporters cheered the two narratives critical of British rule; the British government condemned both reports as exaggerations and fabrications; and U.S. officials mostly tried to remain neutral and outside the fray.[12]See my earlier posts American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921, and American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.


Though unstated in his letter to Villard, Gleason’s reluctance to join the proposed Irish delegation also might have been based on his skepticism of Irish American political meddling in the conflict, though he encouraged economic investment, as noted above. In his 1917 book, Gleason wrote:

The irreconcilable Irish in America had seemed to me a set of men “scrapping” volubly for the sake of words and dissension.  … (It is) the bitterness of Roman Catholic pulpits in Boston and Chicago, the railings of mass meetings in New York, the irresponsible perorations of Irish-American politicians that chiefly threatens the future of Ireland. … (Progressive British people) cannot and will not accept from America the last and worst doctrine of reaction.[13]Inside, pp. 173, 191.

It does not appear that Gleason wrote more about Ireland after 1917. The island was partitioned in 1921 as the war with Britain ended and devolved into the year-long Irish civil war. The revolutionary period that began at Easter 1916 ended in May 1923.

Gleason died of meningitis on Dec. 30, 1923, two weeks after his 45th birthday. He is buried in Washington, D.C.


1 “Arthur Gleason papers, 1863-1931”, MSS18382, Library of Congress, and multiple newspaper obituaries.
2 Gerald L. Fetner (2017) Modern Foreign Correspondents after World War I: The New York Evening Post‘s David Lawrence and Simeon Strunsky, American Journalism, 34:3, pp. 313-332.
3 Arthur Gleason, Inside The British Isle (New York: The Century Co., 1917), p. 173.
4 Ibid, pp. 206-209, and “Poverty: The Real Irish Question”, New York Tribune, April 11, 1917.
5 Inside, p. 263, and “A Batch of Papers”, New York Tribune, May 10, 1917.
6 Percy to Gleason, Dec. 28, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.
7 Gleason to Percy, Dec. 30, 1916, Arthur Gleason papers.
8 Gleason to Doty, June 4, 1917, Arthur Gleason papers.
9 ”The Irish Problem”, Buffalo (N.Y.) News, Aug. 27, 1917.
10 Gleason to Villard, Nov. 24, 1920, in Oswald Garrison Villard Papers, 1872-1949 (MS Am 1323), Harvard University, Box 37, Irish Commission, 1920-1921.
11 Ibid. “Since writing the above…” handwritten on same letter.
12 See my earlier posts American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921, and American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.
13 Inside, pp. 173, 191.

American reporting of Irish independence

I’m developing new posts about American journalists who covered the Irish revolution. I urged site visitors to explore the project landing page to read my earlier work. You’ll find there:

  • Centenary year “revisited” posts covering events from 1918 to 1923.
  • Special projects: More detailed explorations of individual journalists.
  • Sources & links, including Irish-American newspapers, period books, and reports.

Back to D.C. — thanks New England archivists & librarians

The Burns Library holds BC’s Irish and Irish American collections.

I’m back in Washington, D.C., after 10 months in Boston for my wife’s Nieman Foundation fellowship at Harvard. It was a great experience for both of us. I visited several libraries and archives in the region to research my book on American journalists in revolutionary Ireland. In appreciation, I’ve listed the institutions and two individuals below, followed by more photos:

  • Boston College: Thomas P. O’Neill, Jr., and John J. Burns libraries.
    • Thanks to Guy Beiner, Sullivan Chair of BC’s Irish Studies program, Connolly House.
  • Boston Public Library: “Irish Papers” collection and newspaper microfilm.
  • Cambridge Public Library and associated Minuteman Library Network.
  • Colby College (Waterville, Maine): James A. Healy Collection at Miller Library.
    • Thanks to Patricia Burdick, head of special collections and archives.
  • Harvard: Widener, Lamont, Houghton, and Divinity School libraries, and
    • Radcliffe Institute: Schlesinger Library.
  • Tufts University: Tisch Library.
  • University of Massachusetts at Boston: Joseph P. Healy Library.
  • Yale University (New Haven, Conn.): Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Plaque at the entrance of Harvard’s Widener Library describes the fate of its namesake.

Bates Hall, the main reading room at Boston Public Library.

Hallway leading to special collections and archives at Yale University.

Miller Library at Colby College in Maine.

U.S. press opinions on end of the Irish Civil War

In May 1923, U.S. newspaper editorial pages assessed Ireland’s 11-month-old civil war as Éamon de Valera and recalcitrant republicans took the final halting steps toward ending their insurgency against the Irish Free State. “Strong hope that peace nears in Ireland is voiced by American editors,” began an “editorial digest” from more than a dozen dailies. (Clicking the image will enlarge it in most browsers.) Below it are opinions from three other papers after the IRA’s May 24 order to “dump arms,” officially ending the hostilities.

Periodic violence and political turmoil continued to trouble Ireland, but the revolutionary period that began in 1912 with the arming of Ulster and Nationalist volunteers had finally ended. As important, the civil war permanently shifted Irish American attention from the politics of the old country to assimilation in their adopted country, though affection remained for the homeland.

From the Evening Star, Washington, D.C., May 8, 1923.

The Buffalo (N.Y.) Enquirer compared the situation in Ireland to the U.S. Civil War, which ended nearly 60 years earlier.

If de Valera is seeking an example for the future he may find it in America where all are friends of Ireland. Our own civil war was fought with all the bitterness of Ireland’s civil war: but when the Confederacy laid down its arms, it did so with no thought of taking up arms again after a period of recouperation. It kept alive no purpose to take up arms again. To that noble action this country owes its present peace, unity, prosperity, and greatness. It will serve Ireland as magnificently as it has served the United States.[1]”Peace In Ireland”, The Buffalo Enquirer, May 31, 1923.

The Birmingham (Ala.) News, which encouraged anti-Catholic and nativist opposition to de Valera’s April 1920 visit to the city, remained hostile to the republican leader:

Lack of common sense has been de Valera’s besetting sin–or was it ambition? … For de Valera’s ambition or idealism or lack of common sense the greensward of Ireland has been drenched in the blood of Irishmen–and women–shed by other Irishmen. … It is well that Mr. de Valera has finally admitted that he cannot impose his will upon the majority of the Irish–but at what ghastly price has he become convinced! The wraiths of the unnecessary dead should attend him always; the sorrows of mothers who have lost their sons–at his command; the wailings of helpless children who are so by his devotion to his ambition in the fade of the majority; the moans of the widows–made so at his behest–should ring in his ears as the tolling of some ceaseless, solemn knell.[2]”De Valera At Last Bows To Inevitable; He Orders A Cessation of Hostilities”, The Birmingham News, May 31, 1923.

While heartened that de Valera and Irish republicans had finally decided to stop fighting, the Decatur (Ill.) Herald noted other roadblocks remained for Ireland’s path forward:

The chaos brought by the Republicans afforded exactly the opportunity desired by the Communists, including large groups of strongly organized workers. The Communists will scarcely cease their activities because the Republicans have decided to become good citizens. Finally, of course, there is Ulster, a problem as relentless and troublesome as ever. If the Free State does succeed in overcoming all of the difficulties thrown in its way … it will be entitled to credit for a remarkable achievement. It is not yet time for the expression of unreserved optimism.[3]”It Comes Late”, Decatur (Ill.) Herald, May 30, 1923.

See my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.


1 ”Peace In Ireland”, The Buffalo Enquirer, May 31, 1923.
2 ”De Valera At Last Bows To Inevitable; He Orders A Cessation of Hostilities”, The Birmingham News, May 31, 1923.
3 ”It Comes Late”, Decatur (Ill.) Herald, May 30, 1923.

The D.C. death of an Irish ‘stormy petrel’, April 1923

Laurence Ginnell, Library of Congress photo

By mid-April 1923 the Irish Free State army regularly routed anti-government forces. Liam Lynch, the IRA’s chief of staff, was killed on April 10; Austin Stack, his deputy, was captured a few days later. Talk of a ceasefire and the end of Ireland’s 10-month-old civil war was in the air, and in the press.

But the death by natural causes of Irish politician Laurence Ginnell[1]See Dictionary of Irish Biography entry. in a Washington, D.C. hotel room also contributed to the demoralization of the “irregulars.” Since August 1922, the 71-year-old served as envoy to the United States for Éamon de Valera’s unrecognized Irish republic. Ginnell had no real diplomatic status, and his stature was diminished after a failed attempt to take control of the Free State’s consulate office in New York City.

“He was in apparent good health earlier today, and when a hotel attendant called to deliver a message said he would attend to it later. On going back he was found dead,” the Evening Star reported on page 13.[2]”Irish Republican Leader Dies Here”, Evening Star, Washington, D.C., April 17, 1923. Historians have suggested Ginnell’s health suffered from the cumulative impacts of several imprisonments earlier in his life.

Ginnell died at D.C.’s Hotel Lafayette, about two miles west of the U.S. Capitol. Three Aprils earlier a dinner honoring de Valera, then on his 18-month tour of America, was staged in the hotel’s ballroom. From November 1920 through January 1921 the Lafayette became headquarters of the American Commission on Conditions in Ireland, a non-U.S. government body created by pro-Irish interests to generate publicity and political support for the declared Irish republic. Ginnell’s combative and argumentative nature emerged at the outset of his Dec. 15, 1920, testimony before the commission, :

I cannot go into this thing unless I am allowed to state the conditions. The evidence I have to give you is at your disposal only on the condition that it is not to be made use of in any recommendations regarding Ireland. We in Ireland have settled our own government on the basis of your President’s own statements. We have applied the right of self-determination to our own country. Indeed, I will not go behind the present status of the Republican Government in Ireland today. Indeed, I will not give any evidence whatever unless I am assured that no effort will be made to go behind the Irish Republican Government, the only constitutional government in Ireland today. And to attempt to discuss the right of Ireland to her independence is to attempt to re-establish the English Government where she has lost all power and respect whatsoever. If I get the assurance that that is not your intention, then I will sit down and begin my evidence immediately.[3]See Ginnell’s full testimony, pages 462-505.

The Washington Herald described Ginnell as “one of Sinn Fein’s most militant spirits” upon his arrival in the city earlier in 1920.[4]”Notes By A Washington Observer”, The Washington Herald, July 29, 1920. In coverage of his 1923 death, the American, Irish, and British press noted Ginnell’s unique status of having been elected as an Irish Parliamentary Party member in the United Kingdom’s House of Commons, and as a Sinn Féin republican in Dáil Éireann. The irascible Ginnell held the distinction of being ejected from both legislative bodies.

Following his 1920 American Commission appearance, Ginnell represented the Irish republic in South America. His telegramed vote against the Anglo-Irish Treaty was not accepted, but he became, at de Valera’s request, the only opposition member to sit in the Dáil. It was because of his relationship with de Valera that John Devoy’s Gaelic American offered a critical, if respectful, assessment of Ginnell’s career.[5]See “Ginnell, De Valera’s Envoy in America, Dies Suddenly“, The Gaelic American, April 28, 1923.

Ginnell entered politics during the Plan of Campaign agitation of the Irish Land War in the late 1880s, “the stormy petrel of Parnellite politics,” according to press accounts. He was the co-founder of the Irish Literary Society (1892) and the author of several books, including The brehon laws: a legal guide (1894), The doubtful grant of Ireland by Pope Adrian IV to King Henry II (1899), and Land and liberty (1908) .[6]DIB, linked in Note 1.

Hotel Lafayette in Washington D.C., between 1910 and 1926. Library of Congress photo.

The first of three funeral Masses for Ginnell was held at D.C.’s St. Matthew’s Catholic Church, 40 years later the site of slain U.S. President John F. Kennedy’s service. Ginnell’s body was then conveyed to New York City, where another Mass occurred at the Carmelite Catholic church on East 28th Street.

During the Irish revolutionary period, the Manhattan church’s friars sheltered Irish revolutionaries on the run from British authorities, including de Valera. They also stashed part of a cache of 600 Thompson submachine guns, wrapped in burlap sacks and bound for Ireland during the war.[7]”The End of an Era at Bellevue and a Nearby Church”, The New York Times, June 27, 2007.

In a telegram to Alice Ginnell (née King), de Valera described his departed colleague as “one of the most indefatigable workers for Ireland.”[8]”Delegations From Many States At Ginnell Funeral”, Buffalo Morning Express, April 21, 1923. But only a week earlier de Valera effectively removed Ginnell from Irish activities in America, “an unfortunate and sad end to a long career.”[9]Dr. Paul Hughes, a Mullingar-based journalist and historian, in the “Laurence Ginnell–Part 2: from Ireland to America” podcast from the Westmeath County Council Decade of Centenaries, … Continue reading

Finally, the widow accompanied her husband’s body back to Ireland, contrary to an incorrect press report that Ginnell was buried in New York. Major Michael A Kelly, veteran of the Irish American 69th New York Infantry Regiment, represented De Valera at the May 1, 1923, service at the Carmelite church on Whitefriars Street, Dublin. Interment followed in Ginnell’s native Delvin, County Westmeath.

The Irish Civil War ended before the month concluded.


1 See Dictionary of Irish Biography entry.
2 ”Irish Republican Leader Dies Here”, Evening Star, Washington, D.C., April 17, 1923.
3 See Ginnell’s full testimony, pages 462-505.
4 ”Notes By A Washington Observer”, The Washington Herald, July 29, 1920.
5 See “Ginnell, De Valera’s Envoy in America, Dies Suddenly“, The Gaelic American, April 28, 1923.
6 DIB, linked in Note 1.
7 ”The End of an Era at Bellevue and a Nearby Church”, The New York Times, June 27, 2007.
8 ”Delegations From Many States At Ginnell Funeral”, Buffalo Morning Express, April 21, 1923.
9 Dr. Paul Hughes, a Mullingar-based journalist and historian, in the “Laurence Ginnell–Part 2: from Ireland to America” podcast from the Westmeath County Council Decade of Centenaries, Jan. 24, 2022.

Biden’s sentimental Irish American trip to Ireland

U.S President Joe Biden’s four-day trip to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland was an elegy or wake for sentimental Irish American views of Ireland, at least according to preliminary opinion coverage. This view was especially noticeable in The Irish Times, the once conservative but now liberal national daily.

“The 46th president is almost certainly the last great avatar of a specifically Irish-American culture that is now in terminal decline,” wrote columnist Hugh Linehan. The Irish aren’t nostalgic, he insisted, but Irish Americans are. Linehan continued:

From the mid-19th century onward, waves of migration to the big cities of the US northeast created a market for drama, stories and songs lamenting the misery of Irish exile and usually declaring a fervent desire to ‘be back in [insert evocative name of townland here]’. There was also a lot of talk about mothers. As the 19th century became the 20th, these melodramas, comedies and songs migrated from the stage to the screen and the radio Irish-Americanness became a clearly defined strand of US – and therefore global – pop culture. Along the way, it was beamed back to the mother country where it was received with a mixture of bemusement, amusement and a keen awareness that there might be a few bob to be made from it. The naïve returning Yank remains a recurring trope to this day.

Not to be outdone, Fintan O’Toole suggested, “Biden’s sense of Irishness is very real and profoundly felt. But it is rooted in soil that is now increasingly thin on the ground in Ireland itself: a complete fusion of Irish and Catholic identities. … In Irish-America, this parochial Catholic world can be recalled with a simple, uncomplicated fondness that is almost impossible now in Ireland itself. … Biden is here because he identifies passionately with a religious idea of Irishness that has lost much of its grip on the homeland.”

Comparing the June 1963 visit of President John F. Kennedy to Biden’s trip 60 years later, O’Toole continued, “This is a case of history repeating itself, the first time as a dream of the Irish future, the second as echo of an Irish past. JFK embodied, in all his impossible glamour, an idea of what Ireland then aspired to be: modern, sophisticated, confident. Biden now embodies an idea of what Ireland used to be — a place in which ‘Irish’ and ‘Catholic’ was a match made in heaven (and from which there could be no divorce).”

Finally, the Times‘ Gerard Howlin wrote, “Ireland today bears little relationship to the one imagined by Irish America. … There is something of the end of an era about the Biden visit. He is the last of the generation of Irish-American politicians who can remember the springtime Kennedy spoke of and who subsequently gave generously of their friendship.

President to president: Ireland’s Michael D. Higgins and Joe Biden.                       President of Ireland media library

 and  echoed this view in the American press: “The Ireland Biden visited is a distant cry from the place his ancestors left so long ago. It doesn’t even look much like the country John F. Kennedy – the last Irish Catholic president – toured in 1963.”

These suggestions that Irish Americans cling to outdated and overly romanticized views of Ireland is greatly exaggerated and has become a cliché. More than 900 American companies do business in Ireland, and 700 Irish firms have operations in the United States. Combined, they employ several hundred thousand Irish and American citizens in both countries. These people–and their families and friends–understand modern Ireland, as do most tourists.

Biden correctly noted that Kennedy’s trip “captur(ed) the imaginations of Irish and Irish American families alike.” But, he added, “For too long Ireland has been talked about in the past tense. … Today, Ireland’s story is no one’s to tell but its own.” He emphasized the contemporary partnership between the two nations.

Negative coverage

At the National Review, Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote that Biden seemed “not to know or care that, in Ireland, a public official admitting to some pride in Irish-Catholic identity would be an incident more infamous and unwelcome than a Loyalist bombing of a day-care center,” a grossly irresponsible statement from the conservative writer. Fox News and some Republican lawmakers jumped on Biden’s remark about “not going home” to the U.S., but “staying here” in Ireland. If only he would keep his word, they chortled, predictably.

Biden began the trip with a quick stop in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Some British press opinion pages and a few hardline Brexiteers and unionists criticized the president in much the same way as their right-wing brethren in America. In the most notorious example, former Northern Ireland Assembly First Minister Arlene Foster of the Democratic Unionist Party vomited that Biden “hates the U.K.,” in part because of his announced decision not to attend the coronation of King Charles III. Oh my!

Current DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson was more moderate in his comments. He welcomed Biden’s offer to support investment in Northern Ireland, without interfering in local political matters. Donaldson and the DUP have refused to participate in the power-sharing Assembly for a year due to objections to the way Brexit treats the province.

“In the estimation of British officials, Biden’s brief visit (to the North) accomplished what they had hoped, a quiet message with carefully chosen words that did not aggravate the dynamic and might eventually help lead to another restoration of government,” wrote Washington Post chief political correspondent Dan Balz. “Biden could point but not forcefully persuade. As always in Northern Ireland, it remains in the hands of the leaders and the people there to make the way forward.”

I’m interested to see how Biden’s Ireland trip is viewed in the coming weeks and months; whether the visuals are used in his anticipated re-election campaign; and if he returns to the island during a potential second term or post presidency. It will be just as interesting to see how, or whether, his visit is leveraged by Irish tourism and other commercial interests.

Biden to visit N. Ireland, address legislators in Republic


Read the full text of Bident’s April 13 address to the joint session of the Irish legislature.


Joe Biden is visiting Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The April 11-14 trip is pegged to the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement and Biden’s unabashed Irish heritage. He visited the Republic as vice president in 2016. I’ll report any extraordinary developments during the week; otherwise, I’ll wait until after the visit to write a follow up post. MH

On April 13 Biden is scheduled to become the fourth U.S president to address a joint sitting of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann, lower and upper chambers, respectively, of the Republic’s legislature. Below are select excerpts from the speeches of John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton, with some background about their visits and remarks.

KENNEDY, June 28, 1963: Famously the first Catholic U.S. president, though not the first with Irish heritage, Kennedy visited Ireland three times before he won the presidency in 1960: in 1939 with his father, then U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Joseph P. Kennedy; in 1945 after his service in World War II, when he interviewed Taoiseach Éamon de Valera for the New York Journal-American; and in 1955, as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, when he met with T.D. Liam Cosgrave. Kennedy was assassinated five months after the historic 1960 trip, five years before the start of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

I am deeply honored to be your guest in a free parliament in a free Ireland. If this nation had achieved its present political and economic stature a century or so ago, my great grandfather might never have left New Ross (County Wexford), and I might, if fortunate, be sitting down there with you. Of course if your own president had never left Brooklyn, he might be standing up here instead of me. (Éamon de Valera was born in 1882 to an Irish mother and sent to Ireland two years later after his father died.) … I am proud to be the first American president to visit Ireland during his term of office, proud to be addressing this distinguished assembly, and proud of the welcome you have given me. … John Barry, whose statue we honored yesterday and whose sword is in my office, was only one who fought for liberty in America to set an example for liberty in Ireland. Yesterday was the 117th anniversary of the birth of Charles Stewart Parnell–whose grandfather fought under Barry and whose mother was born in America–and who, at the age of 34, was invited to address the American Congress on the cause of Irish freedom. “I have seen since I have been in this country,” he said, “so many tokens of the good wishes of the American people toward Ireland . . .” And today, 83 years later, I can say to you that I have seen in this country so many tokens of good wishes of the Irish people towards America. KENNEDY’S FULL SPEECH

JFK, standing at center right, at the Dáil in Dublin, June 1963.

REAGAN, June 4, 1984: Reagan’s visit to Ireland stirred wide protests against his hawkish foreign policies, including several Dáil members who walked out of his speech. His visit came about halfway through the 30-year Troubles. Reagan won a second term five months later.

I am the great-grandson of a Tipperary man; I’m the president of a country with the closest possible ties to Ireland; and I was a friend of Barry Fitzgerald. (William Joseph Shields, 1888-1961, known professionally as Barry Fitzgerald, was an Irish stage, film and television actor, like Reagan.) One Irishman told me he thought I would fit in. “”Mr. President,” he said, “”you love a good story, you love horses, you love politics — the accent we can work on.” …  The trouble in the north affects more than just these two great isles. When he was in America in March, your Prime Minister (Garret FitzGerald) courageously denounced the support that a tiny number of misguided Americans give to these terrorist groups. I joined him in that denunciation, as did the vast majority of Irish Americans. I repeat today, there is no place for the crude, cowardly violence of terrorism — not in Britain, not in Ireland, not in Northern Ireland. All sides should have one goal before them, and let us state it simply and directly: to end the violence, to end it completely, and to end it now. … The position of the United States in all of this is clear: We must not and will not interfere in Irish matters nor prescribe to you solutions or formulas. But I want you to know that we pledge to you our good will and support, and we’re with you as you work toward peace. (Reagan made two references to Kennedy.) REAGAN’s FULL SPEECH

CLINTON, Dec. 1, 1995: Clinton was the first U.S. president to visit Northern Ireland. His visit came just over a year after the IRA and loyalist paramilitaries declared ceasefires, which were subsequently broken and then renewed before the Good Friday Agreement was reached in April 1998. Clinton returned to Northern Ireland and the Republic in September 1998.

We live in a time of immense hope and immense possibility — a time captured, I believe, in the wonderful lines of your poet, Séamus Heaney, when he talked of, “the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme.” (Biden often quotes this line from Heaney’s poem, ‘The Cure at Troy.’) … Today, I have travelled from the North where I have seen the difference Ireland’s leadership has made for peace there. At the lighting of Belfast’s Christmas tree before tens of thousands of people, in the faces of two communities divided by bitter history we saw the radiance of optimism born especially among the young of both communities. In the voices of the (Protestant) Shankill and the (Catholic) Falls there was a harmony of new hope and I saw that the people want peace, and they will have it. George Bernard Shaw with his wonderful Irish love of irony said: “peace is not only better than war but infinitely more arduous. … In the prosperity and freedom of our nation we are grateful for what (Irish immigrants) did and for the deep ties to Ireland they gave us in their sons and daughters. Now we seek to repay that in some small way by being a partner with you for peace. We seek somehow to communicate to every person who lives here that we want for all of your children the right to grow up in an Ireland where this entire island gives every man and woman the right to live up to the fullest of their God-given abilities and gives people the right to live in equality, freedom and dignity. That is the tide of history. We must make sure that the tide runs strong here for no people deserve the brightest future more than the Irish. (Clinton made one reference to Kennedy.) CLINTON’S FULL SPEECH

Four other U.S. presidents have visited Ireland but did not address the Dáil: Richard Nixon, October 1970; George W. Bush, June 2004 and February 2006; Barack Obama, May 2011; and Donald Trump, June 2019. See 23 presidents with Irish heritage.

Headline: Good Friday Agreement reaches 25th anniversary

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

Praying and ‘knocking heads together’ to end Irish Civil War

The archbishop’s story that “moved hundreds to tears” might have been a wee bit of malarkey.

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.[1]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.[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; … Continue reading A brief version of the story from Central News also appeared in the Irish Examiner,[3]Mulcahy & De Valera, American Archbishop’s Statement”, Irish Examiner, March 20, 1923. but the Free State government denied it the next day.[4]”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.[5]”Monsignor John Rogers Drops Dead At Funeral”, The Sacramento Bee, May 6, 1935.

Undated photo.

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.[6]”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.[7]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.”[8]”De Valera Is Discouraged Over Affairs”, The Fresno (California) Morning Republican, Oct. 15, 1922.

Mundelein in 1924.

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.[9]”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.)

Chicago Tribune coverage of Archbishop George W. Mundelein’s St. Patrick’s Day address to the Ancient Order of Hibernians, left, and a photo of that day’s Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Chicago. (See my 2019 photo essay of the Chicago church, including modern sanctuary.)


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.