Category Archives: Irish Civil War

On reading opposing newspapers in Ireland, 1922 & 1888

During his spring 1922 reporting trip to Ireland, American journalist Frederick Palmer made a stop in the recently partitioned Northern Ireland. While traveling from Dublin to Belfast, he made this observation about Irish newspaper readers:

When you find that one fellow passenger in a compartment on a railway train is reading the London Morning Post with grim satisfaction and another is reading the Republic of Ireland with shinning eyes, it is folly to start a debate between them in the hope that it will result in an amicable agreement. The Morning Post is the organ of the “die hard” British Tories … As for the masses of southern Ireland, the Morning Post believes that they belong to a slave race that should be eternally ruled by their landlords for their own good.

It refers to the republican Dail Eireann as a ‘menagerie’ and predicts that Mr. Collins and Mr. De Valera will end their differences in an orgy of fratricidal ruin and disorder. And it is doing that best that it can to promote this outcome.

Compared to the violence and abusive performance of the Morning Post, which smacks of the gutter, the Republic of Ireland preserves relatively an aristocratic calm and the manners of gentlefolk. The Republic of Ireland is the organ of the De Valera movement. I have been caught in a railway compartment with both irreconcilable sheets in my possession and the stares at sight of this awful inconsistency moderated as my fellow passengers comprehended that I was one of those mad Americans from whom ignorance of local customs and any eccentricity might be expected.

Readers of both papers believe all that they read in their organs with a faith which none of us at home has in the editorials laid before us on our breakfast and dinner tables.[1]“So Erin Drifts Into War”, Kansas City Star, March 26, 1922, and other papers in April 1922.

The passage reads like a faint homage to the American journalist William Henry Hurlbert, who visited Ireland 34 years earlier. In his book, Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American, Hurlbert wrote of his Jan. 30, 1888, arrival at Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire since 1920). There, a dockside news vendor named Davey was described as “a warm nationalist, but he has a keen eye to business, and alertly suits his cries to his customers.” Recognizing the conservative Member of Parliament from North Tyrone traveling with Hurlbert, Davey “promptly recommended us to buy the Irish Times and the Express as ‘the best two papers in all Ireland.’ But he smiled approval when I asked for the Freeman’s Journal also.”[2]William Henry Hurlbert, Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American. [New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888.] 38. The first two papers were unionist; the third moderately nationalist.

The Republic of Ireland, which debuted a few weeks before Palmer’s 1922 arrival, folded the following year, at the end of the Irish Civil War. The Freeman’s Journal, founded in 1763, closed in 1924. In London, the Morning Post was sold to the Daily Telegraph in 1937 and the former title disappeared from newsstands. 

See my Ireland Under Coercion, Revisited series, which explored Hurlbert’s book. For more about the Republic of Ireland, see January 1922: U.S. press on Irish newspaper news.


1 “So Erin Drifts Into War”, Kansas City Star, March 26, 1922, and other papers in April 1922.
2 William Henry Hurlbert, Ireland Under Coercion: The Diary of an American. [New York: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1888.] 38.

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:


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

Watch the presentation from the linked ‘Irish Revolution in Pittsburgh’ headline above, or from here.

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 TroublesDaniel 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 1922Dr. 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 KerryMichael 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 IrelandFelix 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.


These stories were the most popular outside the “American reporting” and “Guest posts” series:


Highlights of earlier work found here:


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,