No. 124 UCDA LAI/G/219

Handwritten letter from Eoin MacNeill to Agnes MacNeill

GENEVA, 17 September 1923

Dearest Taddie

Still no news from you. We have seen the Dublin papers giving the accounts of the President's return, and they show us that the Dublin people have grasped the significance of what has been happening in Geneva. I see that the Diehards in the London press have also risen to a comprehension, and are making foolish and futile attempts to recover a foothold. Events have justified to the letter the interpretation of the Treaty that I have given from the first. It is sad that so much sorrow has been caused by the political ignorance and silly vanity of those who took the contrary view. Imagine the madness of these people sending two women1 to Geneva to prevent the representatives of other nations from recognising Ireland as their equal. Now I see that some Diehard fool of an official in the entourage of the British Delegation here or perhaps in the League secretariat, which has many English employed & must include some Carsonites, has betrayed a guilty conscience towards Ireland by starting a racket in the London 'Times' about the registration of the Treaty & the Boundary question. In the gossip of this place, he got hold of a fact, namely that a night had been spent here in preparing a French translation of some of our principal documents. He supposed that this happened after Pres. Cosgrave's departure & that the Treaty was the only document, & he inferred that the purpose was to have the Treaty registered by the League of Nations. He further inferred that the object of doing this was to appeal to the League in the 'Dispute' about the Boundary clause. What are the facts - At the earliest possible moment after our arrival, and while the President was still here, we found it necessary to have French translations of all the principal documents on the subject of our status, as the majority of the delegates, even of those who know more or less English, understand documents of the kind much better in French. The translating had nothing at all to do with registration of the Treaty, for a translated version of the Treaty would not be authentic. But the strangest part of his assumption was that a 'dispute' already existed between us & the British Govt. about the Boundary clause. Of course there has been no such dispute. The two Govts have not even yet begun to discuss the effect of the clause beyond the appointment of Commissioners. One English journal after another has followed the 'Times' lead, assuming a dispute. This proves only one thing, that these journals do not mean fair play for the clause. Nous verrons.

I have formed a very strong opinion that James2 ought to come to Geneva. He would get a good deal of insight here into the international situation in general and into its aspects for us in particular. Why should not you plan with him to come along, and bring Máire with you, for a trip on the Continent is more educative than half a year of stewing.

Your letter has just arrived. As you have managed to get through the lines in a fortnight, I hope you will keep the road open. If you see Sommerfeld, give him my best regards. Tell him I have met Nansen. I suppose Seumas3 thinks there are compensations for a bad knee. Love to all.


1Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington and Mary MacSwiney.

2James McNeill, Irish High Commissioner in London, brother of Eoin MacNeill.


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