No. 120 UCDA LAI/G/217

Handwritten letter from Eoin MacNeill to Agnes MacNeill

GENEVA, 14 September 1923

Dearest Taddie,

Beyond making fresh acquaintances daily, there is not much here to write home about. We meet them at the League Assembly, at Committees, at lunches, teas, dinners. The Marquis is in Heaven on these occasions and I am in a mild Purgatory. Kevin O'Shiel is at home, that is to say, he is so deaf that it makes no big difference. On that topic, I may say that my own hearing, which used to be of the best, is much duller recently, and this is a great disadvantage when the conversation is in French. MacWhite also is quite at home, he revels in talking to people of all tribes and tongues. The four of us now constitute the Irish Delegation, and I am Chef de Délégation, which causes me to get an extra dose of invitations. MacWhite is fluent in French and also in Danish. The Marquis is perhaps the best linguist in Geneva. He speaks Irish, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, and some Russian.

A strange thing befell MacWhite, I think it was on Saturday, the day when our demand passed the Commission. That morning, early, he got the news that his wife had given birth to a son.1 Naturally we all congratulated him. In the afternoon, when he was away somewhere on our business, word came that the baby was very ill. I was the first to hear it, and from the wording of the message I guessed that the child was dead. I was right and wrong. The same day that the little son was born, their only other child, a girl of a year and a half, died suddenly. Mrs MacWhite was in a nursing home for her delivery, and they had sent the other little one to be tended in the meantime. It took ill internally that day about 3 p.m. and was dead before 4. Mrs Mac does not know yet about the death. Next day, I went with Mac to see her at the home, and she was looking well and happy. Of course I stayed only a minute. They are naming the son Eoin. All our delegation attended the funeral of the little girl. MacWhite is an old and faithful backer of Griffith's policy, and it was a strange thing that two great joys & one great sorrow should come to him in one day. He has worked hard for Ireland in Geneva and the friendship of so many nations for us is largely due to his work. I would like you to understand that every representative here regards our entrance into the League as an international recognition that Ireland is a sovereign independent state. Quite a number of them speak of the Irish Republic and write to us as its delegates. We dine this evening with the Jam Saheb. Kennedy and Esmonde left here for Ireland last evening. Kennedy has made a great impression here. I am eagerly awaiting a letter from you especially to know if you will face the journey. Let me know too if you want any cheques.


1Eoin MacWhite (1923-1975), joined the Department of External Affairs, later serving in Spain and the Netherlands.


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