No. 18  NAI DFA Letter Books Rome/Madrid 1936-37

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Leopold H. Kerney (St Jean de Luz)

Dublin, 15 February 1937

I am directed to inform you that representations have been received in the Department from the parents of four boys under 21 years of age who have joined the O'Duffy Brigade and are now in Spain. Particulars of the four cases and of the circumstances in which the boys left for Spain without the consent or knowledge of their parents are attached. Except in the case of John O'Connor we have no information about any of the boys since they left Ireland.

The Minister wishes you to make an urgent appeal to General Franco's Authorities to allow the boys to return to their homes on the ground that they are minors and are in Spain against the will of their parents.

On receiving a copy of the letter written by John O'Connor to his mother we asked the British Foreign Office to take action through their Ambassador in Lisbon, with a view to securing the return of the boy to Ireland. As, however, it is unlikely that O'Connor remained more than a few days in Lisbon, it is quite possible that the Ambassador will be unable to give any assistance. You should, therefore, include O'Connor's case in you representations to the Franco Authorities.

I also enclose particulars of a boy named Thomas Woods1, who left for Spain on the 11th December with a party under Frank Ryan who were going to join the International Brigade. Will you please approach the Spanish Government Authorities for information regarding this boy and make similar representations regarding his return to his home.

Should you succeed in securing the release of any of the boys you are authorised to repatriate them on the usual conditions. Please keep us notified by wire of any information you may obtain about them.

[stamped] (Signed) J.P. WALSHE

1 This refers to Tommy Woods (referred to incorrectly as 'Wood' in the original of No. 18) who was a 17-year old from Dublin's north inner city. He secretly joined the International Brigade on 11 December 1936. Because he was a minor, his parents, through the Department of External Affairs, attempted to have him repatriated in spring 1937. Kerney failed to ascertain Woods' whereabouts. Woods had in fact died in Andujar Hospital as a result of wounds received in battle in Córdoba on 29 December 1936. The circumstances of his death did not become apparent until July 1937.

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