No. 338  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A20/4

Extract from a memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe concerning Frank Ryan

DUBLIN, 5 November 1943

Deputies J. Larkin Jr.,1 and R. Connolly2 called to see me yesterday afternoon. At first a little bit shy and excessively cautious, they said they were very anxious to hear about Frank Ryan.

I said that I presumed they had seen the last number of 'Irish Freedom' in which Frank Ryan's letter to Kerney of August, 1940, had appeared. 'Irish Freedom' was, of course, quite wrong to publish that letter, because Dulanty read it out for the deputation in order to assure them that Frank Ryan at the time was all right and had got away safely. The reading of the letter was intended to be confidential. However, I should tell them that, in January, 1942, Kerney received another letter from Frank Ryan in which he said, amongst other things, that he was in good health. (The letter, in effect, mainly dealt with the death of Seán Russell who had died from an ulcerated stomach, and Frank Ryan was actually with him at the moment of death.) I added that I did not know where Frank Ryan was at the present moment.

Deputy Larkin, after a little hesitation, said that they had come to me to talk in a purely personal way, and he felt inclined to tell me where they thought Frank Ryan was now.

I said that, if he told me what his view was, I would tell him what I thought.
He immediately said 'We think Frank Ryan is in Germany'.

I said 'That is also my view, but it is only a conclusion', and at once Deputy Larkin said 'Do you conclude it from the manner of his escape?' I said 'I do'.

Deputy Larkin then went on to tell me that they knew the Germans had taken part in his escape, and they felt that Frank Ryan had collaborated with the Germans in the interests of Ireland until Germany attacked Russia. Their anxiety about him was chiefly founded on the probability that Frank ceased to collaborate from that moment and would consequently be out of favour with the German authorities.

After a good deal of talk, which by now had become free and easy, I suggested that one person who was likely to know all about Frank Ryan, or something about him, was Gerald O'Reilly of New York.3

Both Deputies said that they agreed with me, and asked me eagerly whether we could enquire from Gerald O'Reilly about Frank's present 'state of health'.

I replied that we would do so immediately through Mr. McCauley, our Consul-General in New York, but I wanted them to promise that our interview would remain confidential and that they would avoid giving any publicity at all to Frank Ryan's situation. I assured them that, so far as we were aware, that was Frank Ryan's own desire. It was certainly the desire of his family, and they (the two Deputies) could well understand that some of Frank's friends here might misunderstand the whole situation unless and until he himself was given a chance of explaining everything to them.

The two Deputies very readily gave me this assurance, and repeated several times that they had come only in the interests of Frank. They had heard that a London group, composed partly of members of the International Brigade, were going to support a new campaign about Frank Ryan, and they wished to prevent it at all costs. They knew it would not take place if they could say to their friends confidentially that Frank was all right.

1 James Larkin Jr. (1904-69), trade unionist and politician.

2 Roderic James 'Roddy' Connolly (1901-80), socialist, trade unionist and politician.

3 Gerald O'Reilly (1903-90), Irish left-wing republican, who emigrated to the United States in 1926.

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