No. 22  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A8

Memorandum from Colonel Liam Archer to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin) 'Mrs Clissmann1, Copenhagen Correspondence'
(G2/2272) (Secret)

DUBLIN, 7 March 1941

Dear Joe,

I was disturbed to ascertain recently that Mrs. Clissmann had written to her father stating her husband was serving with the German army in Belgium and that we had not seen the letter in Censorship. I have since ascertained that in the same letter she also mentioned the receipt of £50 from her father, Mr. Mulcahy, through a person described as Kerney, Madrid; obviously our Minister there.

This, combined with the following facts, more or less convinces me that the correspondence we did not see in Censorship was sent under cover per Mr. Kerney.

Packets from Maeve Mulcahy, Oakfield, Sligo, have been noted in Censorship addressed to Mr. Kerney, Irish Legation, Madrid. These packets would have been specially submitted to us by Censorship except for the 'official address'. It has also been noted in Cable Censorship that Mr. Kerney has been used as an intermediary for communications between the Clissmanns and Mulcahys. The Memo. I sent you on Frank Ryan also contains numerous instances of Mr. Kerney having been used as an intermediary between these people.

In view of both Helmut Clissmann's2and Mrs. Clissmann's previous associations with the I.R.A. and people of that type here, and friendly knowledge of, if not actual association with, Frank Ryan and similar people on the Continent, I think it desirable that no communications to or from them should be allowed without the usual examination.

My desire to have these communications examined is further reinforced by the fact that an Annie O'Farrelly has recently written to Mrs. Clissmann at Copenhagen. Miss O'Farrelly is, in fact, believed to be the wife of some mysterious Swede who was on one occasion accused of being interested in an attempt to send arms to Ireland. More important, however, she is alleged to be a very intimate friend of Seán Russell3 and to be one of the few people who might know of his whereabouts and activities, and she is very well known to members of the extreme Irish Group in the U.S.

For all these reasons, I am most anxious to ensure that no further Clissmann-Mulcahy or similar correspondence escapes censorship.

I should add that although the address mentioned gives immunity from Irish censorship that it presumably does not from British as there is no immunity claimed. As most of the people mentioned are known to, and presumably blacklisted by the British authorities, the position is still further complicated.

Yours sincerely,
[signed] L. Archer

1 Elizabeth 'Budge' Clissmann née Mulcahy, wife of Helmut Clissmann. The Mulcahy family of Sligo were a prominent republican family.

2 Helmut Clissmann (1911-97) worked in Ireland in the 1930s under the auspices of the German Academic Exchange Service and developed connections with the IRA. He played a role in intelligence operations including Frank Ryan's escape from Spain to Germany and later served in the Brandenberger Regiment of the Wehrmacht during the Second World War.

3 Seán Russell (1893-1940), Chief of Staff of the IRA (1938-9). On 14 August 1940 Russell died on board a German U-boat bound for Ireland and was buried at sea.

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