Category Archives: Uncategorized

American partners help restore Four Courts archive

Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury is a new database and website that catalogues substitute sources for the records destroyed in the June 30, 1922, fire at Dublin’s Four Courts. The fire began as forces of the provisional Irish Free State government removed IRA rebels who had occupied the building since April 1922. This was the start of the Irish Civil War.

The new virtual Four Courts resurrects millions of words from the destroyed documents, now linked and reassembled from copies, transcripts, and other records scattered among archive and library collections in Ireland, Britain, and America. Here are the U.S.-based partners:

  • American Conference for Irish Studies
  • Historical Society of Philadelphia
  • Houghton Library, Harvard University
  • Huntington Library, San Marino, California
  • Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas
  • Library Company of Philadelphia
  • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • The Morgan Library and Museum, New York City
  • Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame

Watch a short video introduction of the project:

‘Don’t get shot.’ Samuel Duff McCoy’s 1921 Ireland travels

This post is based on my review of the Samuel Duff McCoy papers at Princeton University. It is part of my American Reporting of Irish Independence series, which I am expanding into a book. MH

***

Journalist Samuel Duff McCoy began a year of travel in revolutionary Ireland with a three-day side trip to Washington D.C.; arriving Jan. 22, 1921, by train from New York City.[1]Samuel McCoy Papers, 1868-1964, Series 3, Correspondence, 1915-1963, Ireland, Conflict with Great Britain, 1921, Related correspondence, A, Folder 20, McCoy’s expense report, Jan. 27, 1921. His itinerary in the capital included a stop at the Quality Shop, 1307 F Street, N.W., three blocks from the White House. The 39-year-old probably admired the shop’s selection of new phonographs, perhaps he even sampled some music in one of the “soundproof, comfortable demonstrating parlors.” An advertisement promised “the afternoon’s work will be more pleasant and you will work with more zest if you drop in for a half hour or so and hear Art Hickman’s latest jazz hit, Bert Williams’ new ‘blues,’ Nora Bayes’ character song or inimitable Al Jolson.”[2]“Washington’s New Columbia Shop” advertisement, Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Nov. 21, 1920, p. 21.

McCoy’s 1921 passport photo.

But McCoy visited the shop to pose for a passport photo as he readied to cross the Atlantic. Leaders of the newly-formed American Committee for Relief in Ireland had just appointed him as the secretary of an eight-member delegation that would assess humanitarian needs after two years of war between Irish separatists and British authorities. Dressed in a dark suit and vest, a lightly polka dotted bow tie tucked underneath his white shirt collar, McCoy faced the camera with a serious, determined look.[3]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 17. Undated passport photo with Quality Shop stamp on back and Jan. 22, 1921, letter of introduction from Richard Campbell.

The Iowa-born McCoy began his newspaper career in 1903 after graduating from Princeton University. He started at the Washington Times, moved on to the Brooklyn Eagle and New York Evening Sun, then the Public Ledger and Evening Bulletin in Philadelphia. In 1917, when the United States entered the war in Europe, McCoy became publicity director for the Philadelphia chapter of the American Red Cross. He rejoined the Sun in New York after the armistice. [4]McCoy Papers, Box 10, I. Writings, F. Autobiographical Notes. Who’s Who In America, Vol. 20, 1938-1939, with supplementary notes.

But McCoy was no ordinary newspaper man. From age 16 he contributed prose and poetry to national magazines. He was among only a few non-senior editors of Princeton’s Nassau Literary Magazine, and later co-founded the journal Contemporary Verse. In 1904, Chicago’s Marshall Field hired McCoy as a private tutor for his two grandsons during a two-month trip to Augusta, Ga., aboard the private rail car of Robert Todd Lincoln, president of the Pullman Company and son of the assassinated Civil War president. McCoy also worked as an editor at the Bobbs-Merrill book publishing company in Indianapolis, Ind.

As McCoy completed the paperwork for his 1921 passport, U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer wrote a letter of introduction on his behalf to U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain John W. Davis in London. Palmer and McCoy knew each other from Philadelphia, and they potentially reconnected in Washington that January. Palmer wrote to Davis: “I do not know what he is going to England for, but I can vouch for the character of any work undertakes.” He described the journalist as “a loyal American, a keen observer, and a splendid writer.”[5]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, Unidentified, Folder 1, Jan. 24, 1921, Palmer to Davis.

Within days of Palmer’s letter, attorney Richard Campbell, the New York City-based secretary of the American Committee, sent a hand-written letter to McCoy about the upcoming trip. The County Antrim native mentioned his family and business contacts in Ireland who would either look up McCoy in Dublin or welcome him to other parts of the country. “Have as good a time as you can. Don’t get shot—remain indoors at night,” Campbell advised.[6]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 18. Jan. 27, 1921, Campbell to McCoy.

Cover of McCoy’s 14-page report, released in April 1921.

First trip

By mid-February, McCoy and the seven other Americans sat down in London with British officials to discuss the situation in Ireland. Then, the U.S. delegation crossed the Irish Sea to Dublin. They spent six weeks in Ireland, traveling to nearly 100 cities and villages in 22 of the island’s 32 counties.[7]See “American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921.”

McCoy wrote the delegation’s official report, “Distress in Ireland,” as he returned to America in April.[8]See “American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.” His narrative, addressed to the American Committee’s executive board and released to the public as a 14-page pamphlet, refers to “your delegation” and “our investigation.” McCoy turned self-referential in the last paragraph of the report:

The need from the burning of homes seems to me to be both great and pressing. We went through dozens of towns where there were homes and shops burnt; in most cases these people have made claims for damages, but in the meantime, these claims have not been paid, in many cases there is little probability of their ever being paid. As an individual I am entirely convinced that many of these people were entirely innocent of any complicity in the acts for which there were punished by having their homes burnt.

Back in Washington, McCoy unsuccessfully lobbied U.S. State Department officials to support the relief effort. The American government balked at providing domestic aid to Great Britain as London officials declared the relief effort succor to the Irish separatists. Despite its stated desire to remain non-partisan, the American Committee would have to work directly with the Irish White Cross, which was sympathetic to the Irish republican cause.

McCoy received correspondence from Clemens J. France, the delegation leader who had remained in Ireland. “I am very anxious to know regarding your reception by the (American) Committee in New York,” France wrote from Dublin’s Shelbourne Hotel. “As yet I have received no word from the Committee as to future plans. Every one here, of course, is very anxious about the reconstruction work” being funded by the American relief money.[9]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 4. April 30, 1921, France to McCoy.

The relief effort also faced sectarian headwinds. France sent McCoy a copy of his letter to Campbell, the lawyer and Committee secretary, detailing efforts to collect the signatures of 1,000 prominent Irish Protestants who supported the American relief. “I think you will agree with me that these are times which call for active co-operation by all who are interested in the Christian principals of humanity, and it is in this spirt that I am making this appeal for your personal co-operation,” France wrote in his “Dear Sir (or Madam)” cover letter to potential signers. He told Campbell “about two hundred” had signed.[10]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 4. April 30, 1921, France to Campbell, and undated appeal cover letter on American Committee stationary showing the names of the eight-member … Continue reading

Through May McCoy attended public events to support the American fund raising effort, including Lord Mayor of Dublin Lawrence O’Neil’s stop in Boston. But the reporter soon returned to Ireland, this time accompanied by his wife.

Second trip

“Welcome back to Ireland,” Frank Daly, chairman of the Cork Harbour Commission and Irish White Cross member wrote to McCoy in Dublin in late June. “We are rather in a state of chaos here just at present. … There are a great many cases requiring attention … “[11]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 4. June 30, 1921, Daly to McCoy.

McCoy’s itinerary through October included a mix of relief work, efforts to market his own writing and the manuscripts of Irish authors, and sightseeing. He was in Ireland for the start of the truce, partition of Northern Ireland, and prison release of separatist leaders as British and Irish negotiators in London hammered out the treaty that ended the war. He reunited with France. They rendezvoused with American Committee Treasurer John J. Pulleyn and Campbell, who had warned about gun violence, then making their own visit to Ireland. [12]See “The lawyer, the banker & money to Ireland, fall 1921.”

As Pulleyn and Campbell prepared to sail back to America, the Irish negotiators in London issued a special letter thanking the American Committee “and all those in the United States who have contributed to its funds for the generous assistance sent to Ireland for the relief of the suffering, loss and misery incurred by the Irish people in their struggle for national independence.” The letter also expressed “appreciation of the able and devoted work done in Ireland on behalf of your committee my Messrs. France and McCoy and those associated with them.”[13]Reports, American Committee for Relief In Ireland and Irish White Cross, 1922, Irish Delegation of Plenipotentiaries to Campbell and Pulleyn, Oct. 29, 1921, p. 56.

McCoy, moved by the acknowledgement, penned a note to Irish leader Arthur Griffith on R.M.S. Aquitania stationary. He wrote:

Throughout my association with the relief work in Ireland my one constantly recurring regret was that I could not do something directly for Ireland’s cause; the little that I might do in other directions seemed, and still seems, nothing compared with the devotion of Irish men and Irish women; and so, although the kind thing said in your letter moved me deeply because it came from such men as you, I can accept it only for what I inwardly hoped to be able to do and not for anything I did do.[14]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 14. Nov. 12, 1921, McCoy to Griffith. Underlined words in original letter.

‘The Lads’ series

A different image of McCoy was used in this newspaper advertisement for his 1922 series. Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.) Feb. 1, 1922.

Upon completing his fourth Atlantic crossing in mid-November, McCoy began to write a newspaper series about his 1921 experiences in Ireland. He “locked himself in at the Princeton Club (in New York City) and has been writing like mad against time ever since,” United Feature Syndicate manager Norris A. Huse told prospective editors days before Christmas.[15]McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 27. Dec. 22, 1921, Huse to Dear Sir. Huse continued:

“McCoy’s stuff is graphic. It will grip the readers and make an indelible impression. His words are alive. They pulsate. They paint a picture that moves. The papers that run this series will have a tremendous opportunity to make a tremendous circulation building feature of it. It’s big stuff–it’s news–it’s hot off the griddle–it’s a real BEAT!”

Huse syndicated McCoy’s 10-part, 20,000-word series in January 1922 under the headline “The Lads Who Freed Ireland.” The New York Morning World, Chicago Daily News, San Francisco Examiner, Star Tribune (Minneapolis, Minn.), Fall River (Mass.) Globe, and Grand Island (Neb.) Daily Independent were among the U.S. papers that purchased the series for $20 per article. McCoy’s reporting from Ireland also appeared in Leslie’s Weekly and The Literary Digest magazines.

McCoy had met leading characters and witnessed important events in the final year of the Irish revolution. He didn’t get shot. But the heroic triumph of Irish separatists that he described was soon sullied by the Irish Civil War.

I will explore the series in a future post.

References

References
1 Samuel McCoy Papers, 1868-1964, Series 3, Correspondence, 1915-1963, Ireland, Conflict with Great Britain, 1921, Related correspondence, A, Folder 20, McCoy’s expense report, Jan. 27, 1921.
2 “Washington’s New Columbia Shop” advertisement, Evening Star (Washington, D.C.), Nov. 21, 1920, p. 21.
3 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 17. Undated passport photo with Quality Shop stamp on back and Jan. 22, 1921, letter of introduction from Richard Campbell.
4 McCoy Papers, Box 10, I. Writings, F. Autobiographical Notes. Who’s Who In America, Vol. 20, 1938-1939, with supplementary notes.
5 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, Unidentified, Folder 1, Jan. 24, 1921, Palmer to Davis.
6 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 18. Jan. 27, 1921, Campbell to McCoy.
7 See “American investigators visit Ireland, February 1921.”
8 See “American visitors describe ‘Distress in Ireland,’ April 1921.”
9 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 4. April 30, 1921, France to McCoy.
10 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, A, Folder 4. April 30, 1921, France to Campbell, and undated appeal cover letter on American Committee stationary showing the names of the eight-member visiting delegation.
11 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 4. June 30, 1921, Daly to McCoy.
12 See “The lawyer, the banker & money to Ireland, fall 1921.”
13 Reports, American Committee for Relief In Ireland and Irish White Cross, 1922, Irish Delegation of Plenipotentiaries to Campbell and Pulleyn, Oct. 29, 1921, p. 56.
14 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 14. Nov. 12, 1921, McCoy to Griffith. Underlined words in original letter.
15 McCoy Papers, Series 3, Related correspondence, B-Z, Folder 27. Dec. 22, 1921, Huse to Dear Sir.

‘Fighting’ Father O’Flanagan’s anti-treaty visit to Pittsburgh

Three Anglo-Irish Treaty supporters from Ireland visited Pittsburgh in early May 1922 to make the case for the agreement, as detailed in a guest post by Dr. Anne Good Forrestal, granddaughter of one of the delegates. An anti-treaty delegation headlined by Rev. Michael O’Flanagan arrived in the city at the end of the month.

‘Fighting’ Father O’Flanagan

“The so-called Irish Free State treaty is not a treaty for it does not establish a free State,” Rev. O’Flanagan said upon his arrival. “It will not be acceptable to the Irish people and it positively will not establish peace between Ireland and Great Britain, as English rulers think,” [1]” ‘Fighting Priest’ Here From Ireland; To Speak in Lyceum”,  Pittsburgh Daily Dispatch, May 28, 1922.

Rev. O’Flanagan, of County Roscommon, was no stranger to America. He toured the country almost continuously between 1906 and 1910. On return to Ireland, he became active with Sinn Féin from 1911 through the Easter Rising and War of Independence. In November 1921, the party sent him to North America on a fund-raising tour. He remained away from Ireland until April 1925.[2]O’Flanagan, Michael” by Patrick Maume, Dictionary of Irish Biography, October 2009.

The Pittsburgh chapter of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic (AARIR) hosted Rev. O’Flanagan and writer Peter Golden. Éamon de Valera established the national group in November 1920 in the split with the Friends of Irish Freedom. The association’s publicity material for Rev. O’Flanagan’s visit explained his nickname as “the fighting priest”:

While Father O’Flanagan never carried a gun or a sword, and never led a company of the Irish Republican Army, the fact that he was actually under fire on several occasions when attempts were made on his life and his courage in carrying on his work for the Republic in the most dangerous sections and periods won for him his title.  … His visit to Pittsburgh will form part of a tour embracing the entire country during which his fiery oratory has inspired crowded houses in all the principal cities.[3]From John B. Collins Papers, 1913-1976 AIS.1977.17, University of Pittsburgh, ULS Archives & Special Collections, American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic, 1921-1932, Box … Continue reading

The publicity material was mailed to Sarah Moffit, 45, an 1895 Irish immigrant and member of the Pittsburgh AARIR chapter. Her husband, 12 years older, was an 1883 Irish immigrant who worked as a gas company pipe fitter, according to the 1920 U.S. Census. The couple were joined by three step children, a nephew, and two “roomers” at the same address seen in the letter below.[4]1920 U.S. Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 22, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1524; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 673.

In a reflection of the city’s Irish community at the time, six of the 50 people shown on the same census sheet for the city’s North Side neighborhood were born in Ireland, while 10 others born in America had at least one Irish immigrant parent. Pittsburgh’s 14,000 native Irish in 1920, down from 19,000 in 1910, was 2.4 percent of the city population.

Moffit and the AARIR secured advance newspaper publicity about Rev. O’Flanagan’s visit, but the local press did not cover his speech; the last significant Irish event in the city before the civil war erupted in June 1922. The AARIR chapter remained active until at least 1925, according to contemporary newspaper reports.  

Cover letter for publicity material related to anti-Treaty visit to Pittsburgh. John B. Collins Papers, University of Pittsburgh.

References

References
1 ” ‘Fighting Priest’ Here From Ireland; To Speak in Lyceum”,  Pittsburgh Daily Dispatch, May 28, 1922.
2 O’Flanagan, Michael” by Patrick Maume, Dictionary of Irish Biography, October 2009.
3 From John B. Collins Papers, 1913-1976 AIS.1977.17, University of Pittsburgh, ULS Archives & Special Collections, American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic, 1921-1932, Box 1 Folder 5. Digital scans of 16 pages relating to O’Flanagan’s May 1922 Pittsburgh visit, including cited newspaper quote, provided March 30, 2022.
4 1920 U.S. Census Place: Pittsburgh Ward 22, Allegheny, Pennsylvania; Roll: T625_1524; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 673.

Another unlucky episode for Lucky Charms

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration this week said it is investigating reports that thousands of people have become ill after eating Lucky Charms, the sugary toasted oat cereal flecked with colorful marshmallow pieces and marketed by product mascot “Lucky the Leprechaun” as “magically delicious.”

Lucky tbe Leprechaun

More than 4,500 people have submitted reports to iwaspoisoned.com website, where consumers post about illnesses that they suspect are related to food products. The F.D.A. said it has received more than 100 submissions related to Lucky Charms through its own reporting system. Alleged symptoms include bouts of diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, and vomiting after consumption.

So, are the cereal company ingredients gastronomically malicious, or are these online complaints materially suspicious? We’ll have to wait to find out. But this isn’t the first time that Lucky the Leprechaun has been cast in unflattering light.

James Edward O’Keefe began his career as a right-wing political activist and provocateur as a Rutgers University student who complained that Lucky Charms were offensive to Irish Americans. O’Keefe later founded Project Veritas, which uses hidden videos and deceptive editing to attack and mock mainstream media and liberal groups. The Lucky Charms video is easy to find, for those inclined, but I’m not going to link to it.

Last year, Newsmax host Grant Stinchfield, in an on-air complaint about Kellogg’s new “Together with Pride” cereal pitched to the LGBTQ community, commented: “I think General Mills has a gay leprechaun, right?…He wears high heels shoes, prances around in tights – leads me to believe, probably, that little Lucky Charm leprechaun might be gay.”

And in a review of the Netflix series “Cooking with Paris” (Hilton), Ed Power of the The Irish Times noted:

The action opens with Hilton in a Los Angeles supermarket, eyeballing a leprechaun. She is holding a box of Lucky Charms, the popular cereal and hate crime against Irish people.

But a three-year-old Reddit post that asked, “How do people in Ireland feel about Luck Charms cereal?” elicited only five replies. The verdict: ambivalence.

Nearly 60 years old

Lucky Charms debuted in 1964 with its signature “green clovers, pink hearts, orange stars and yellow moons” marshmallow pieces, according to General Mills’ online product history, dated March 17, 2014, no less, the 50th anniversary. The Lucky character has had several makeovers, but is consistently green-clad with a four-leaf clover sprig in his top hat atop red hair and big buckle shoes. There’s not likely any confusion with St. Patrick holding up a shamrock to teach the Holy Trinity. Lucky was briefly replaced in 1975 by “Waldo the Wizard”.

The General Mills website says nothing of the somewhat endogenous-looking Lucky’s gender, sexual orientation, or nationality. There’s not a word about Ireland or the Irish in the writeup. According to Wikipedia, early television advertising for the cereal was “accompanied by a light instrumental ‘Irish’ tune.” No word, either, on any familial relation to the Notre Dame University “Fighting Irish” mascot, which dates to 1927.

The Lucky Charms cereal box says the magic clovers “turn milk green.” That sure would make me sick.

Catching up with modern Ireland: July

As American tourists began returning to Ireland in July, new data showed 539,100 overseas passengers arrived in the country from January through June, compared to 9.3 million in the same six-month period in 2019, a year before the pandemic. Ireland is among several European countries where require proof of COVID-19 vaccination is required for entry into the country or many indoor destinations.

More from the month:

  • Here’s a measure of how secularization and abuse scandals have hit the Catholic Church in Ireland: Liz Murphy, writing in The Tablet, cites research showing that in 1800, there were 11 convents with 120 religious sisters from six different congregations. By 1900 the numbers had grown to 8,000 sisters living in 368 convents representing 38 congregations. In 1965, there were just under 30,000 priests and religious in Ireland and “peak membership” occurred in 1971. By 1999 the number had dropped to about 11,000. Today, estimates suggest the number is below 7,000, with some 80 percent of religious said to be over 70 years old. And that doesn’t fully account for the mortal impact of COVID-19.
  • Irish Olympians Paul O’Donovan and Fintan McCarthy won a gold medal in lightweight double sculls. It was Ireland’s first gold medal since London, 2012, when Katie Taylor won for boxing.
  • Minister for Rural and Community Development Heather Humphreys, TD, announced €8.8 million in funding under the Connected Hubs Scheme. The money will enable existing hubs and broadband connection points to enhance and add capacity to remote working infrastructure in every region of the republic.
  • Julie Kavanagh released a new book about a key event of the 1880s Land War period — The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge and the Phoenix Park Murders That Stunned Victorian England, reviewed here.
  • U.S. Congressman Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) successfully attached an amendment to a House of Representatives appropriations bill that expresses the importance for bilateral and international efforts to promote peace in Northern Ireland by way of the International Fund for Ireland.
  • Ireland is among the top five nations most likely to survive the collapse of global civilization, according to a Global Sustainability Institute report. The others are New Zealand, Iceland, the United Kingdom, and Australia … all islands. The report says there is “a high probability (>90%) that global civilization is very likely to suffer a catastrophic collapse in future (within a few decades).” Sigh.

See previous monthly roundups.  

Galway city, August 2019, before the pandemic.

On our ninth blogiversary

A note of thanks to email subscribers and site visitors at the start of our tenth year.

This blog debuted July 22, 2012, shortly after returning from my fifth trip to Ireland, with the aim of “publishing research and writing about Irish and Irish-American history and contemporary issues.” Since then I’ve written more than 850 posts, freelanced over two dozen pieces to other publications, given six presentations at history conferences and museums on both sides of the Atlantic, and made five more trips to Ireland.

Special thanks to the archivists and librarians who have provided in-person and digital access to historical material over the years, especially since the start of the pandemic. Reader comments and suggestions are always welcome. I appreciate having material “liked” and shared on social media. And I encourage proposals for Guest Posts.

Best wishes. MH

At Carrigafoyle Castle, Co. Kerry, in 2012, the trip that inspired the blog. (The Irish rental car company provided the Mercedes-Benz as a goodwill gesture when it replaced a humbler model with mechanical problems.)

The 12th in Northern Ireland, 1921 & 2021

UPDATE:

Annual Orange Order marches in Northern Ireland occurred without incident, police said, “allaying concerns that anger at post-Brexit trade barriers might fuel street violence,” Reuters reported.

The 35,000-member Protestant and unionist organisation held 500 smaller, local parades rather than the usual 18 larger gatherings due to COVID-19 restrictions. The annual events, which mark the 1690 victory at the Battle of the Boyne by Protestant King William of Orange over Catholic King James of England and Scotland, were cancelled last year. A leading Orangeman told the BBC the new arrangement “achieved what we have set out to achieve, we wanted to spread the crowds across Northern Ireland.”

A planned nationalist protest in west Belfast was cancelled after the Orange Order amended its parade route, BBC reported.

ORIGINAL POST:

July 12, 1921, marked the first time the Battle of the Boyne, the seminal event of Irish Protestant and unionist identity, was commemorated in the new statelet of Northern Ireland. The political partition of six northeastern counties from the remaining 26 occurred a month earlier. On July 11, 1921, a day before the 231st Boyne anniversary, Irish republicans and British forces began a truce in their two and a half year old war.

The 1921 United Press story on this page appeared on the front pages of dozens of U.S. newspapers. It reports the mix of traditional sectarian violence associated with the 12th and confusion over the day-old truce.

July 12, 2021, is the first time the Boyne anniversary takes place under the Northern Ireland protocol, a de facto trade border in the Irish Sea between the six counties and the rest of the United Kingdom. It became necessary due to Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, called Brexit, to avoid a land border with the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the E.U. The protocol is “the most significant change [in Northern Ireland] that has taken place since partition,” unionist politician Reg Empey said. Violence erupted in Belfast earlier this year over displeasure with the arrangement, which critics say makes Northern Ireland “a place apart.”

Here is a sampling of media coverage about the current situation, including the protocol problems and Boyne anniversary. I have not yet seen any U.S. stories that make the connection between this year’s 12th events and the 1921 creation of Northern Ireland and truce. Full stories are linked from the date:

“The chief executive of Northern Ireland’s Protestant Orange Order does not sense any appetite among pro-British unionists to turn the July 12 peak of the annual marching season violent despite “a huge amount of frustration and anger” over Brexit.” Reuters, July 9, 2021

***

“But whatever tensions might have existed before … Brexit exacerbated them exponentially. For it revealed how Britain, which voted to leave the EU, sees Northern Ireland, which voted to Remain, as ultimately expendable. One of the clearest signs of this was the customs border in the Irish Sea that Britain negotiated with the EU. As of January 2021, it effectively separates Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK and pushes the country closer toward the South’s economic sphere. This development, along with the various ways loyalist parties like the DUP were used as pawns during Brexit negotiations, has contributed to a growing sense of betrayal among Unionist politicians and their base.” Jacobin, (American leftist magazine, Brooklyn, N.Y.) July 7, 2021.

***

“Sinn Fein’s leaders say that, with a growing Catholic population and the fallout from Brexit, momentum is on their side. The unionist parties supported Brexit, while they opposed it. They view the campaign against the protocol as a futile effort that only lays bare the costs of leaving the European Union.” The New York Times, June 7, 2021.

American reporting of truce in Ireland, July 1921

The ceasefire between Irish republicans and British forces that began at noon, July 11, 1921, staunched two and a half years of bloodshed. The truce, announced days earlier, headlined the front pages of American newspapers.

“Peace was settling over Ireland today,” United Press wrote in a July 9 story from Dublin. “For the first time since the Easter rebellion of 1916, hostilities were actually dying down, under the truce signed between the Sinn Feiners and representatives of the British government.”[1]Multiple dispatches in the Evening Herald (Shenandoah, Pa.), July 9, 1921.

The truce came as a relief to the four-month-old administration of U.S. President Warren G. Harding and “reduced both the pressure on the State Department to act on Irish matters and the temperature of the U.S.-British relationship,” historian Bernadette Whelan wrote. “The majority of the U.S. press, public, politicians, and Catholic Church welcomed the truce.”[2]Whelan, Bernadette, United States Foreign Policy and Ireland: From Empire to Independence, 1913-29. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2006, Ch. 9, p. 349.

Typical of foreign news coverage 100 years ago, United Press reported on commentary from local papers. “The London press was jubilant today in its comment on the Irish truce,” the wire service reported. It also quoted the Dublin-based Freeman’s Journal, which wrote the truce “raises hopes in the hearts of the people which have not been felt for many months.”

Other wire services filed multiple dispatches from both capitals. These July 11 ledes from the Associated Press are typical:[3]Multiple dispatches in the Brooklyn (N.Y) Daily Eagle, July 11, 1921.

London: Eamonn de Valera will come to London on Thursday of this week for his conference with Prime Minister Lloyd George to discuss the basis of a settlement of the Irish problem.

Dublin: The truce in Ireland, agreed upon by Government officials and Republican leaders pending peace negotiations, went into effect at noon today.

The Hearst-owned International News Service also reported from Dublin:

The armistice between the Irish Republican army and the British crown forces is now officially in effect in Ireland. Armistice celebrations were held here and elsewhere in Southern Ireland. There were frequent toast to ‘the future of Ireland.'[4]”Irish Truce In Effect As Police Now Patrol Streets Weaponless”, The Washington (D.C.) Times, July 11, 1921.

The Evening World in New York City editorialized the truce represented “an auspicious beginning of what may prove the most momentous week in Ireland’s history.” The Pulitzer-owned paper condemned “the Belfast Orange newspapers” for sounding “an irreconcilable note.”[5]”Truce In Ireland”, Evening World (New York, N.Y.), July 11, 1921. The second day of the truce got tangled in the usual sectarian troubles of annual July 12 Orange Order marches in Northern Ireland, partitioned a month earlier from the rest of the island. I’ll explore that in the next post.

Later this month I will post examples of Irish-American and Catholic press coverage of the truce. See earlier work from my American Reporting of Irish Independence centenary series.

References

References
1 Multiple dispatches in the Evening Herald (Shenandoah, Pa.), July 9, 1921.
2 Whelan, Bernadette, United States Foreign Policy and Ireland: From Empire to Independence, 1913-29. Four Courts Press, Dublin, 2006, Ch. 9, p. 349.
3 Multiple dispatches in the Brooklyn (N.Y) Daily Eagle, July 11, 1921.
4 ”Irish Truce In Effect As Police Now Patrol Streets Weaponless”, The Washington (D.C.) Times, July 11, 1921.
5 ”Truce In Ireland”, Evening World (New York, N.Y.), July 11, 1921.

Catching up with modern Ireland: June

Edwin Potts resigned as Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader after three weeks on the job. He was pushed out by party insiders angered by the U.K. government’s pledged to grant Sinn Féin a key concession on Irish language laws. Jeffrey Donaldson, who narrowly lost to Potts in May, succeeded him after no other contenders for leader stepped forward. The most contentious issue for the DUP is the Brexit-related “Northern Ireland protocol,” which governs trade between other parts of Britain and the European Union.

See “Northern Ireland Is Coming to an End” by Irish journalist Susan McKay for an historic and contemporary overview.

Also in June:

  • Irish President Michael D. Higgins, Irish Ambassador to the United States Dan Mulhall, and U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) made separate remarks at the June 2-5 American Conference for Irish Studies (ACIS). My story for George Washington University’s History News Network.
  • Mulhall lashed out at New York Times columnist Paul Krugman‘s use of the phrase “leprechaun economics” to describe how transfer pricing can distort national accounts, such as GDP figures. “This is not the first time your columnist has used the word ‘leprechaun’ when referring to Ireland, and I see it as my duty to point out that this represents an unacceptable slur,” the ambassador wrote in a letter to the Times.
  • Tánaiste (Irish deputy PM) Leo Varadkar said he believes a united Ireland could happen in his lifetime. The views of unionists must be “acknowledged and respected”, he said, but “no one group can have a veto on Ireland’s future.”
  • U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Massachusetts state representative Clair Cronin as ambassador to Ireland. She must be confirmed by the Senate. Meanwhile, no decision has yet been made on the appointment of a special envoy to Northern Ireland, a position last held by Mick Mulvaney, who left the position after his boss, former U.S. President Donald Trump, incited an attack against the U.S. Congress.
  • The housing crisis in Ireland continues to draw headlines. Prices have surged by more than 13 percent in the past 12 months as supply remains tight.
  • American tourists will be welcomed back to Ireland beginning July 19. Visitors will have to show proof of vaccination. The country will also welcome unvaccinated tourists, but they must arrive with proof of a negative test and self-quarantine before taking a second test.
  • See our previous monthly roundups and annual Best of the Blog.

River Nore, Inistioge, Co. Kilkenny.                                                                         Fáilte Ireland

Biden, Boris, and Brexit, oh, my!

This is a developing story. I’ll update this post as appropriate over the course of Biden’s European trip. Email subscribers should visit markholan.org directly to see the updates. MH

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UPDATE 2:

Transcript readout of U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan aboard Air Force One en route to Brussels, Belgium.

REPORTER: On Northern Ireland, did the President say anything in his conversations with Prime Minister Johnson about whether a U.S.-UK trade deal would be at risk if he doesn’t protect the Good Friday Agreement?  Did he ask Boris Johnson not to renege on Brexit — on the Brexit pact?  Or can you share a little bit about what the President told Boris Johnson about —

SULLIVAN:  All I’m going to say: They did discuss this issue.  They had a candid discussion of it in private.  The President naturally, and with, you know, deep sincerity, encouraged the Prime Minister to protect the Good Friday Agreement and the progress made under it.  The specifics beyond that, I’m not going to get into.

UPDATE 1:

The Biden vs. Boris showdown over Brexit has become a bit of a bust. The U.S president apparently seems content to have allowed his top diplomat to voice America’s position before the G7 meeting, as described below. It’s still possible Biden will name a special envoy to Northern Ireland to oversee how Brexit impacts the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Great Britain and the European Union appear headed to a trade war, which media has nicknamed “sausage war” because of particular dispute over the E.U.’s decision to ban chilled meats from crossing the Irish Sea.  The British prime minister has threatened to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol–which he and his country negotiated and agreed–that was supposed to ease trade over the U.K.’s only land border with the E.U.

ORIGINAL POST:

U.S President Joe Biden has met with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson ahead of the G7 summit. While the meeting is described as cordial, Brexit and Northern Ireland remain a thorny issue between the two leaders.

Last week a top U.S. diplomat in London expressed the administration’s concerns about Britain’s threats to renege on the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, the regulatory and trade mechanism agreed by Britain and the European Union to avoid a hard customs border between Northern Ireland, part of the Brexit, and the Republic of Ireland, which remains in the E.U. The New York Times reported:

News of that meeting surfaced in the Times of London on [June 9] just as Mr. Biden was arriving in the country. While some analysts predicted it would overshadow Mr. Biden’s meeting with Mr. Johnson, others pointed out that it served a purpose — publicly registering American concerns in a way that spared Mr. Biden the need to emphasize the point in person.

The tensions are driven by the confluence of Biden’s strong Irish-American identity, bipartisan U.S. political support for the Good Friday Agreement, and Britain’s desire for a free-trade deal with the U.S. Sporadic violence–mostly by Northern Irish loyalists angry over what they describe as being set adrift from the U.K. by the protocol–has already flared ahead of the usual sectarian tensions of the July 12 Protestant marching season. And for added measure, Northern Ireland is marking the centenary of its political partition.

Union Jacks flutter outside a housing estate on the loyalist Shankill Road during my July 2019, visit to Belfast.