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Irish Republicans on the continent 1919-23


JohnD66

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In another thread the subject of Mussolini and Irish Republicans was brought up, someone mentioned that Ernie O'Malley had a picture of Mussolini in his cell in Mountjoy in 1923.

By pure chance today I came across the Witness Statement of Maire Ni Bhrian today, a Cumman na mBan activists who attended the Red Cross convention in Geneva in 1921.

Shortly afterwards she managed to get an interview with Mussolini in Rome.

Mussolini seemed quite familiar with the situation in Ireland and began firing off rapid questions to which he expected equally rapid answers. The interview was conducted entirely in French, a language Mussolini spoke with great fluency. He asked me to arrange for a member of the Republican government to go out to Rome to see him but that whoever went should exercise the greatest caution, as 'there is a spy on every step of my stairs'. I duly sent the message home but I do not know what happened.
Also topical given the current debates in Spain over Catalan Independence, she was in Barcelona in 1920, distributing Republican propaganda such as the Irish Bulletin.

In Barcelona and in Catalonia generally there was great sympathy for Ireland and when Terence [MacSwiney] died [on hunger strike] the papers were full of articles about him and masses were offered for him i Churches which were crowded to the door. the University students and shop assistants all wore green ribbon in their button holes. There wwas a huge meeting in a beautiful club hall of shop assistants, with the tricolour at the end of the hall facing the platform. I was called on by the President to make a speech which I did in French as I did not know Catalan sufficiently well and the President was kind enough to translate it for me into that language. The Catalans always cherish their desire for separation from Spain and their desire for independence is a common bond of sympathy between them and us.

All the speeches were in praise of Ireland and expressed sympathy for our objects in our fight for freedom. The ladies of Catalonia dressed with the greatest care and artistic finish a beautiful doll in the Catalan costume and sent it Terence MacSwiney's widow for their little daughter.Similarly when Kevin Barry was executed the students of Barcelona University had mass celebrated for him in one of the biggest churches there and had a wreath made with specially waxed flowers that would remain fresh until it arrived at his grave in Dublin.
And there's more on her activities throughout Europe. You can read the whole thing at;

http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0363.pdf
 


Riadach

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Glaucon

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Very interesting John. Anecdotally, sympathy and a sense of grá for Ireland, and the long struggle for liberty, remains overwhelming everywhere I've been on the continent; an academic approach documenting experience of activists abroad from that time is most welcome.
 

fontenoy

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What's up with all the blackened out sentences and names? Fascinating stuff by the way.
 
S

SeamusNapoleon

Pet hate of mine when historians are careless in regards to Irish spellings.
In fairness, on the original document, and Bhríain have the fada, so perhaps the lack of one over 'Maire' is an intentional choice on the depositee's part :p
 

Little_Korean

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Reminds me of the Bobby Sands Street in Tehran or Brittany, or the fashion for Boer hats in Ireland and France during the Anglo-Boer Wars.

Which are either cases of sympathy or projection, depending how you want to look at it.
 

former wesleyan

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Is it easier for a Roman Catholic population to transfer from the authoritarianism of the Church to the authoritarianism of fascism than for a Protestant one ? And why did Irish nationalists not view the Catalonian indpendence movement as a partitionist one ? Or was a case of my enemies enemy is my friend ?
 

Riadach

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In fairness, on the original document, and Bhríain have the fada, so perhaps the lack of one over 'Maire' is an intentional choice on the depositee's part :p

Unlikely. More likely, the typewriter at the time couldn't produce á. That's still no reason for excluding it today.

Look at the handwriting under the title of her statement though, she similarly (and correctly) doesn't have a síneadh fada on bhriain.
 

JohnD66

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Reminds me of the Bobby Sands Street in Tehran or Brittany, or the fashion for Boer hats in Ireland and France during the Anglo-Boer Wars.

Which are either cases of sympathy or projection, depending how you want to look at it.
Projection for me. Btw article on Irish-Basque separatisms here.
 
S

SeamusNapoleon

Unlikely. More likely, the typewriter at the time couldn't produce á. That's still no reason for excluding it today.

Look at the handwriting under the title of her statement though, she similarly (and correctly) doesn't have a síneadh fada on bhriain.
...she also has a fada over 'Máire' on her signature at the end of the document.
 

Glaucon

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Is it easier for a Roman Catholic population to transfer from the authoritarianism of the Church to the authoritarianism of fascism than for a Protestant one ? And why did Irish nationalists not view the Catalonian indpendence movement as a partitionist one ? Or was a case of my enemies enemy is my friend ?
The first part of your comment is mere bigotry (especially considering that Protestant areas of Germany were some of the the most overwhelming supporters of Nazism); the second is fallacious. Was it a partitionist ideal for Ireland to wish to throw off the shackles of British rule? The Catalans are an old nation, conquered by Spain, but not subsumed by her.

Now, let's keep this thread on-topic.
 

Riadach

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...she also has a fada over 'Máire' on her signature at the end of the document.
It's not the worst, admittedly. You should see what we have to contend with when dealing with medieval Irish history, even when we don't have to deal with unrecognisable bastardisations.
 

Little_Korean

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Projection for me. Btw article on Irish-Basque separatisms here.
Some pretty interesting stuff. This happened to catch my eye:

The really curious thing is that the WP and EE followed an almost identical path, first rejecting violence, then reviled as traitors by their former comrades, coming to view them, the militarist nationalists, as the main cause of the problem and finally ending up in moderate social democratic parties that rejected not only violence but also the precepts of separatist nationalism.
Parallel paths or the cycle of history coming full-circle?

I suppose many causes can seem similiar if you stare at them hard enough. There were IRA guys doing...something with FARC in Columbia despite the Provos taking donations from the same Irish-Americans whose government were hostile to FARC.
 

JohnD66

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Some pretty interesting stuff. This happened to catch my eye:



Parallel paths or the cycle of history coming full-circle?

I suppose many causes can seem similiar if you stare at them hard enough. There were IRA guys doing...something with FARC in Columbia despite the Provos taking donations from the same Irish-Americans whose government were hostile to FARC.
In the case of the Basques and Irish in the 1960s and 70s, one thesis is that a generation adopted radical nationalism because they were dissatisfied with their own society and want to change it. At first they concentrated on the 'external enemy' but coming to reject this, initially for tactical reasons, they later directed all their ire on the shortcoming of 'their own' people.
 

former wesleyan

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The first part of your comment is mere bigotry (especially considering that Protestant areas of Germany were some of the the most overwhelming supporters of Nazism); the second is fallacious. Was it a partitionist ideal for Ireland to wish to throw off the shackles of British rule? The Catalans are an old nation, conquered by Spain, but not subsumed by her.

Now, let's keep this thread on-topic.
Bigotry bollix. Portugal and Spain remained fascist long after the war was over and the Northern European states only provided fascism with support from a minority of their populations. And the concept of " Catalonia " hides the fact that the area contained several princely fiefdoms which gelled to become what is now called Catelonia. Last time I looked the thread is about Irish nationalists cuddling up to dictators like Mussolini.
 

JohnD66

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Back on topic this is the Witness statement of Donal Hales (brother IRA figures Sean and Tom - Sean assassinated by anti-Treaty IRA in 1922)

Donal Hales was 'Ambassador of the Irish Republica to Italy' in 1919-22.

MIchael Collins used to write to me every week recounting the British atrocities in Ireland and we made this material the basis of our propaganda. This propaganda created such a fury against England that when Lloyd George who was spending a holiday in Switzerland, had to fly out again as he was threatened by the Swiss railwaymen.

At a later date on account of this propaganda which was mainly supported by the Republicans of Italy, I was arrested when King George [of UK] passed through Genoa and held in a prison there for five days. Mussolini dismissed the Chief of police for having me arrested. Mussolini was anti-English at that stage.
http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0292.pdf

The BMH really is a great resource.
 

Seanie Lemass

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Interestingly, as referred to in Treacy's book on CP, when Gavan Duffy objected to Dáil approaches to Soviet Union for recognition of Irish Republic on grounds they might endanger Duffy's pretty lame diplomacy on the contitnent, Collins came down in favour of cultivating the Reds!
 

shutuplaura

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Bigotry bollix. Portugal and Spain remained fascist long after the war was over and the Northern European states only provided fascism with support from a minority of their populations. And the concept of " Catalonia " hides the fact that the area contained several princely fiefdoms which gelled to become what is now called Catelonia. Last time I looked the thread is about Irish nationalists cuddling up to dictators like Mussolini.
You are correct when you say that it was a case of seeking assistance whereever they could find it. I dunno about the above though - the rise of Fascism was related to many factors besides religion. It seems like a gross simplification actually.
 

JohnD66

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Interestingly, as referred to in Treacy's book on CP, when Gavan Duffy objected to Dáil approaches to Soviet Union for recognition of Irish Republic on grounds they might endanger Duffy's pretty lame diplomacy on the contitnent, Collins came down in favour of cultivating the Reds!
Yes they also sent Roddy Connolly to buy arms off the KPD (communist party) in Germany (he failed and lost the money on two occasions). It was a case taking help where yu could get it I suppose.
 

Glaucon

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Bigotry bollix. Portugal and Spain remained fascist long after the war was over
And the causal correlation you make to explain this observation is that both countries have majority Catholic populations?
Not economics, intra-state strife, ethnic divisions, or anything else, no, the clue lies in the fact that the population of both countries is mostly Catholic.

You're right, your bigotry is a load of ''bollix''.

former wesleyan said:
and the Northern European states only provided fascism with support from a minority of their populations.
Uh huh. The strongest areas of Nazi electoral support from 1930 to 1933 was in Protestant Northern Germany and East Prussia. Many German Protestants even acquiesced in the creation of the Nazi-controlled Protestant Reich Church.

If I were a sectarian bigot like you, I might point to some inherent sense of racial superiority within German Protestantism, and desire for autocracy stretching all the way back to Frederick the Great - as I'm not, I'd merely identify as one strand in a very, very complex picture.


former wesleyan said:
Last time I looked the thread is about Irish nationalists cuddling up to dictators like Mussolini.
Actually, the topic of this thread relates to Irish Republicans on the continent in the period 1919 to 1923, it'd be welcome if you could confine yourself to posting something of relevance thereof.
 

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