No. 520 NAI DFA 34/106

Letter from William T. Cosgrave to Benito Mussolini (Rome)

Dublin, 24 February 1931

My dear Signor Mussolini,

I am writing you this purely personal letter in order to win your sympathetic consideration for the College of St. Isidore, Via degli Artisti, the existence of which seems to be endangered by the Piano regolatore Mussolini.

Rome is, and always has been, the centre of the world for the whole Irish people. Her beauty and dignity are our pride and we are watching with profound admiration and gratitude the noble work which you are doing to reveal her ancient grandeur and to add still more to her glories.

Your pride in your city is shared by every Irishman. In a very true sense it is the capital city of the Irish, as well as of the Italian race. Our tradition is largely a Roman tradition. The minds of our people have been principally nurtured from the storehouse of Italian Genius. You will, therefore, easily understand why I venture to write to you personally concerning this matter on which I have no official or technical right to address you. For over three hundred years Saint Isidore's has been the centre through which Rome and Italy have had a predominant part in giving its present character to Irish civilization. Every member of the Franciscan Order in Ireland (and in Australia, which is part of the Irish Province) has to spend several years at Saint Isidore's. They come to Ireland and they go to Australia as apostles of Roman and Italian culture, as well as of the Christian Faith. The zeal and devotion of the Irish Franciscans find constantly renewed fervour in looking to the glorious traditions of St. Isidore's in which as you are aware, were sheltered the sources of Irish learning during two centuries of persecution in the homeland. St. Isidore's is regarded as a national monument by the Irish people and I can assure you of their deepest gratitude if you find it possible to introduce such modifications into the Piano regolatore as will enable the Irish Franciscans to continue their work in the same historic surroundings. The complete deprivation of their garden would render it impossible for them to maintain St. Isidore's as a training centre for the members of their Order, and I earnestly hope that it will be feasible to leave them sufficient recreation ground for that purpose without material alteration in the Piano.

Please accept, my dear Signor Mussolini, the renewed assurance of my highest esteem and respect, and my earnest good wishes for ever closer relations between our two countries.

(Signed) Liam T. Mac Cosgair

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