No. 120 NAI DFA ES Box 32 File 216(4)

P.J. Little to Robert Brennan


Buenos Aires, 4 December 1921 (received 7 January 1922)

Dear Sir,
It is a long time since I sent any report because on the general situation there was nothing more to report on the other Republics in Sth. Am. there was not much to say. The Irish are very few in point of number outside the Argentine, and scattered. Unless you have a fairly large Irish Community it is waste of time and money to travel enormous distances to produce little or no result. I have remained all the time in Buenos Aires because this is the centre for the Irish for the whole of South America. All the other Republics can be best worked from here. Then again I was badly needed here. The difficulties here were such that I refrained from writing home as no good could have been done. Even now this report will not cover all the ground. At the first meeting of the temporary Executive of the new Irish Race federation, the other day, I was very urgently asked to remain on here, and I said I would cable home to know whether you needed me home or if I should stay. On consideration I came to the conclusion that it would be far better for me to go home as much more can be done by returning than by staying.

I shall therefore take a berth on the Brabentia to-morrow. It sails on 10th. December and arrives at Southampton (D.V.) 30th Decr. Please tell my wife any special instructions as she will probably meet me at Southampton. I waited to the very last minute here to get all the work I can done. There are just two more things to get under way - a paper in Spanish and the constitution of the organisation. Now I hope I shall be home in time to give you all the information before the Paris Conference.1 I did not interfere in any way with Bulfin but he and Mrs. Ginnell urged me to help at Propaganda and Organisation. Somehow at first all the difficulties seemed to accumulate and to make the work of the mission appear discouraging, now things are much better.

The very rich Irish would be very friendly to-day and to-morrow would be indifferent or have misunderstandings - As I was in a freer position than Mr. Ginnell I had opportunities of meeting them and their people and I was continually obliged to get these people to keep up interest. Then there was the Bulletin. No one here, of those really reliable, was familiar with journalism. I found Miss Anita Bulfin had time, and has the right ideas, and something of the family gifts for clear writing. Gradually I got the Bulletin on its feet so that my assistance is not any longer necessary and I think it will go on all right now.

The cuttings of the cable agency news as it appears in four papers (- the Buenos Aires Herald (Friendly but timid) Standard (Hostile) Prensa (Friendly and nearly useless owing to timidity) Nacion (Northcliffe)) are filed for reference and when Irish Bulletins come out the news is compared. Occasionally we find cables tampered with by comparison or that the news is cooked. Besides this, I insisted that the Bulletin here should follow the home Bulletin as closely as possible. Though some critics wanted it made short and more local. (Our Bulletin appears in Spanish). As we can only get out one a week we are obliged to condense and introduce current references. This Bulletin is praised now because it follows the judicial style of statement of the home one. Everybody helps to get out the Bulletin - its a big job - 600 copies on Rones. We have a good fellow to translate - Revilla - a Castillian Spaniard. He is a fairly good Journalist. As the Bulletin does not contain enough we are going to bring out a fortnightly sheet in Spanish which will have more home bulletins and propaganda. It will be a two leaved (four pages) containing about 6,000 words - we hope to get this arranged before I leave. This will be printed not on Rones. It will fill a gap not filled by papers like the 'Southern Cross' which are all in English.

The public meeting in Coliseo Theatre - gave a good deal of work, and on the whole went off fairly well. Then there were some receptions in the County parts. It is very hard to work up enthusiasm amongst the Irish who are born out here, so the work is very uphill. They are severe critics without being devoted supporters.

Fr. O'Connell (Holy Cross - out recently from Mt. Argus) is a great asset here. He preached exactly the right kind of Propaganda sermon needed by these people, at the Mass for 'Those who died for Ireland'. Then Mrs. Ginnell gave a reception which was a great success. Our people here acted Pearse's 'Singer' and the 'Rising of the Moon' - and we wrote it up before to make propaganda - with excellent results. The plays were a great success.

Ginnell and self spoke at performances. The whole object was to stir real feeling in Irish here and teach them the meaning of the Rising etc. One has to begin at the very beginning with these people. They are all good Catholics and in point of domestic standards are miles above the Natives here. They are under sway of English influence but very open to right Irish influences. If there were a first class Irish School here and an Irish Bank - the Irish would become a mighty power here. The idea which works much against an Irish mission (diplomatique) is that we only come here for money and we don't care a jot what happens the Irish. I have tried to combat this idea with the idea of Race pride - love of traditions and Irish dead etc. and Irish culture and future of Irish Race. All Irish want to keep their children with the right traditions not have them merged in the rather degraded life of the community here, so these ideas have really had a most extraordinary effect on some of the men here.

After painful experience of non-Irish Argentines who posed as our friends and were mostly out to make what they could out of us, we concentrated on working up feeling amongst the Irish. Hence the playing of the 'Singer' and afterwards the big attempt to federate all Irish organisations and institutions. There are so many Irish institutions here but no widespread national organisation owing to dissensions. You have received letters from Hennessy attacking Ginnell [-] well he is one of the factionists [-] also MacManus who once was a really strong Irishman. Now I don't think we can make much of him or his Circulo Irlandese.

The Federation of Irish institutions took place on 29th Novr. and this begins a great new organisation - Colleges, Convents, Clubs, Associations - all are represented. Fifty such institutions sent representatives. The meeting on the whole was a great success though no one knew anything about organisation. Temporary executive was formed and usual routine - Good speeches from Ginnell (see Southern Cross) I hope to get Spanish fortnightly partly on its feet before departure - and to see the frame work of the organisation set up.

An Organiser will go round the country organising for the Loan and the New Federations executive will at the same time have new branches started through the Country. The success of the Loan will depend on this organisation and on other things which I shall report on verbally.

A word about delegates; owing to lack of organisation all delegates had to pay their own way. Therefore they are all Irish and most of them are not very strong as Nationalists, some are hardly Republicans. All except Bowen were going to Europe so we availed of their visit.

Bowen and Mrs. Bowen. He was a friend of Bulfin (Senior) but he wobbled on politics in the old days. Now he is alright and full of enthusiasm. He really did great work in former times for Irish Trade. He brought out £15,000 worth of Irish Manufactures and lost a little on the transaction. Until recently he was rather materialistic in outlook - now he is getting enthusiastic about Irish culture and the Race. He was at school with Dr. O'Gogarty - He is really an able business man, and he is full of the idea of getting an Irish Bank and a School on the Argentine or else working up education someway.

He will announce at the Conference the following - but until he does it must not be mentioned - Some Irish are giving the National University a Scholarship of £50 per year for Spanish.

Mr. Thos. Gahan - oldish - very good and religious, extremely rich, not very republican, but well intentioned - one of the founders of Jockey Club in B.A. a palatial place. He is therefore one of the very pillars of respectability and conservativism.

Dr. and Mrs. Walshe - they travel with me - Most charming and quiet - oldish. She is very able as a prominent lady of charity and manages Keating Institute - a School for Irish girls - When I say manages I mean she is President of Ladies Committee - but of course administration is carried out by Nuns. She is real Sinn Feiner. He is only partly so.

Fr. Vincent Logan - good man - but with poor political and national record. Appointed because a prominent Irishman and because resident in Paris.

My next matter will be short report on Brazil.

I should add that these delegates like many others I met in the Argentine are splendid material, their chief limitation has been that they were out of touch and ignorant of the real truth about Ireland. Real Irish feeling is in them.

As I said I found I could deal with S.A. Republics best and most economically from Buenos Aires. Owing to work which had to be done there I had only one day in Rio de Janeiro. But it was enough as there is only a handful of Irish there. The chief and most active is Donal Buckley, who was once in Post Office Dublin (P. O'Keefe knows him).

I met him and Corbett (young fellow) of Lambertstown outside Mallow and a man named Cardwell-Quinn. The first two seem good reliable fellows. The last not so much - though he seems keen, and he might be used for work.

They appointed in an irregular kind of way as they have no organisation two men in Ireland, who had been in Rio as representatives and nine men put up £57. to pay their expenses to Paris. The men appointed are, P.C. O'Mahony of Abbeyside Dungarvan and Sean Harty of Ballinskellings, Co. Kerry.

There were differences between Quinn and Buckley and I tried to smooth things out. Undoubtedly Buckley is the good man. I told them that it was not likely that our Government would appoint any representative in Rio. This settled Quinn who wanted to get sent to Paris but I told him that delegates must pay their way and that the only solution was to send delegates from home as the cheapest. The arrangement mentioned above had of course been fixed beforehand.

The following is a list of the Irish who subscribed to send the two delegates. Corbett, Oakenfull, Tallon (Dublin), Campbell, Fagan, Fitch, Walsh, Curtsin, Monahan, Parker. These with the following are the best Irish here. Mary McCann aged 100 - great old Irishwoman. Misses O'Toole and Slevin Sheridan - Irish Canadian and Halliday - Brazilian Irish.

There are some good type Irishmen but very timid and moderate, i.e. Armstrong, Browne, Orr, Bryan (a friend of Casement). Casement was Consul here you know - The following shout a lot but are not reliable - Quinn, O'Donoghue, Coogan and Holland.

Up in Pernambuco Tobin, whose address you have is good, also - Mr. Dignam. Here at Rio there is one man who came out since the Anti-emigration Order, Connick of Wexford - he has been told to get passport.

There is one rotter who writes against Irish in papers - Tom Cross of Co. Tipperary - he is more German than Irish.

I made out a very elaborate list of questions which I left with Buckley.

Brabantia Dec. 30th. 1921.
In my report I did not mention Uruquay, Paraquay, Bolivia, Peru.

I understand that [Jaspar] Nicholls report on Bolivia has already been forwarded. There are very few Irish there and the bursting up of some mining enterprise has left them all in a weak state. Nicholls is doing all that one can expect at present. Political conditions are unstable in that Republic and Economic conditions are worse. It is not one of the richer Republics nor does it lead in any way.

Uruquay - which although so near the Argentine and so rich yet no Irish from there make any attempt to approach or get in touch with the Diplomatic Mission at B.A. - William Morgan - very rich Extancuro (rancher) is the only Uruquayan and his family was and is Argentine and very strong on National cause. He tells me there are a few Irish in Monte Video but timid and very dominated by the English. Generally Uruquay is very much under the English. Capital domination. Morgan came to B.A. for our meeting and he is a trustee for Loan.

Paraquay is very poor and is in an unstable condition as they had a revolution not long ago and expect another. O'Durnin has sent in reports and I gather that for the present all we can do is to supply from B.A. press propaganda which our friends can use there. This propaganda is done for all the Republic from B.A. through the Bulletin. In Paraquay there are only a few Irishmen.

Peru - there is one doubtful Irishman actually discovered and owing to unstable conditions not much can be expected from there at present.

Until real progress is made in diplomatic and trade relations with Argentine, Chile and Brazil there is no use wasting money on the other Republics - except on the press propaganda.

It would be well if in all the chief centres in Europe our representatives should try and get on terms of friendly relations with the representatives of all these republics but especially the last three named, and through them get information and introductions to those who can help Ireland inside high Government circles of these Republics.

Now I have had great good luck since I came on the Brabantia. I found a friend of mine named Adolpho Scilingo on board to the Argentine in Hong Kong and I met him first on boat (Japanese) coming from Hong Kong to Capetown S.Af. On this boat the 'Tacoma Maru' I travelled with him to Buenos Aires. We became good friends and he rather protected me from two Englishmen of violent anti-Irish views who drank heavily on the voyage and several times wanted to throw me overboard. I lost sight of Scilingo in B.A. but now he is on his way to London to take rank as Vice Consul in the Consulate General there. He introduced me to the following - Don Luis Aldunati Chilean Minister to Madrid, who spends the next two months in Paris. He is very rich and in politics very influential. He is a close personal friend of the President of Chile - whose name is Arturo Allesendri. Aldunati was Minister for Foreign Affairs in 1919-20 in Chilean Govt. Now he goes to establish Embassy in Madrid where he will be first Ambassador. From what Scilingo told him and from chatting with him he has become very friendly. I asked his advice on Chile and Ireland and as a result he gave me three letters of introduction to Amando Garamillo - Minister for Justice etc. Cornelis Seanedre, State Councillor and Deputy, Hector Orancibia Laso, Senator and up to recently Prime Minister. These letters are for Mr. Ginnell and with them he will get to have an interview with the President. Don Luis Aldonati is writing to the President privately to ask him to receive him. I have sent letters to Mr. Ginnell, with full details. Mr. Ginnell may not see these people till end of March. I also made friends with Santa Cruz Wilson - who is one of the Secretaries of Legation to Aldonati. He is a young fellow and a very good sort. He talks fair English - not so Aldonati. He is of Irish extraction (Wilson): he is entirely out of touch with his Irish traditions. I invited him to attend Paris Conference as a visitor - as a distinguished person of Irish extraction. Send a bundle of literature in Spanish or French to him at the Argentine Legation in Paris also an invitation to congress. Send another bundle to Don Luis Aldonati at the same address. All these South Americans buzz round Paris and I believe if I were in Paris for the Conference I might get in with a great many of them.

Yours ever,
[      ]2 to the Last

1 The Irish Race Conference, Paris, January 1922.

2 Word is unclear in the original - could be Micawber.

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