No. 107 NAI DFA ES Spain

Memorandum entitled 'Ireland and Spain'1


Madrid, September 1921

Irish Publicity Agency in Madrid.
(1) I have reason to think that Miss O'Brien is not sufficiently well provided with funds. Her quarters did not impress me as good enough, and I know that she is unable to hire a suitable flat, except she can get a friend to share it with her.
(2) Although Miss O'Brien is exceptionally clever and devoted, and has done wonders considering her opportunities, it is clear that a woman is much handicapped especially in Spain. Hence I think that though she should remain at her post, a man should be sent as Representative or Consul.
(3) If a man cannot be sent immediately she should be at least allowed to take on a lady friend at a suitable salary. A certain Miss Nobbe (whom I did not meet) is there and Miss O'Brien says: she is in every way suitable for such a purpose. It seems too hard to leave Miss O'Brien there without any help on whom she can rely.

The Spanish Question in general.
(1) Spain is very important and promising as a field for Irish Propaganda:- (a) Spain a rich country, a rising country, probably with a future before it; the mother country of South America and Mexico, which borrow their ideas largely from Spain.

(b) Spain is the natural ally of Ireland. The people of all classes seem to have a strong traditional sympathy and friendship for Ireland; although owing to English propaganda and intimation to the activity, English Consuls, etc., this friendship remains largely non-vocal.

This sympathy may be founded partly on the traditional kinship of the people, and the existence of very many Irish and exiled noble families in Spain from the 16th to 17th centuries, but its strength is, I think, due principally to the fact that catholicity is a dominating factor in the life of both countries, and that both are hostile to and are wronged by England.

The sympathy for Ireland seems to be specially strong among the clergy and the nobility (opinion of the Queen Mother re Irish Question).

Special need for Irish Propaganda in Spain.
(a) Irish history, even geography of Ireland is almost completely unknown. In the school book Ireland is set down as a part of Ingelterra etc.
(b) Owing to court influence (English Queen), English propaganda (British Ambassador Howard a Catholic) and commercial connection (England and America principal market for Spanish wines of South) English influence in Spain is growing and English ideas spreading. Liberal and Jewish papers seem to be pro-British. Catholic papers (such as 'El Debate' 'The Catholic Review' etc, etc.,) very badly informed, and very timid owing, I think, to being uncertain regarding fundamental facts. But the Catholic paper and Catholic Reviews, which are by far the most influential could I think be gained over by better propaganda and fuller information.
(c) With these latter as well as with Church and nobility, the fact that the Irish question, although not a religious question, very great Catholic issues are involved. For instance ours is a fight between a Masonry and a Catholic nation. The fact that the Irish Catholic Nation is the source and centre and largely the spiritual support of the Catholic Church over the whole English-speaking world. This fact I say if well put forward would have great weight. (Opinion of the Mexican gentleman whom I met and who wished to communicate with de Valera re Great Catholic Union).
(d) Attempt made and with certain success to confound Irish case and Irish movement with that of Viscaya and Catalonia, and even to represent the I.R.A. as akin to the Socialist and Anarchical party of Barcelona, this is a factor that works on prejudices with the Church and Catholic Party.
(e) Hence although possibly the great popularity of the Irish movement in Barcelona and Viscaya is an impediment to its interests in Madrid it could nevertheless probably be utilised for commercial purposes. Sota the head of the Great Shipping Company of Bilbao (Sota y Anans) one of the great leaders of the Basque movement. His son Manuel de la Sota (whom I did not meet though he called on me) most enthusiastic in the Irish Cause.

Suggested means of organising Propaganda.
(1) Established a strong centre in Madrid; for Madrid is the place that counts, and the Madrid papers carry principal weight (possibly Desmond FitzGerald or Gavan Duffy if they could be spared or Joseph Walsh[e] of Paris).
(2) Well to have Consuls if possible in Barcelona and Bilbao.
(3) A White Cross campaign is I think quite feasible, even bishops may be got to contribute and write letters in imitation of letter of the Holy Father.
(4) Lectures, social functions, etc., very important and helpful. Miss O'Brien is anxious to organise them.
(5) The Church in Spain very important in many ways, for in Spain it is the church, the army, and the King, that seem to count most and all are intensely Catholic.
(6) Organise a literary, historical and artistic propaganda. The two former lectures, articles, booklets; the latter by establishing on a commercial basis the depot shop for Irish art, etc., in Madrid, etc.

Note:-(1) Without personal contact with editors much can be done in publicity line.
(2) In my opinion it is a mistake to use El Boletin Irlandese so frequently and so regularly. Issue it only when there is something special to say and aim at putting this in such a way that an editor can copy it bodily into his paper as done at present very many editors not ill disposed do not have time to read Bulletin.

1 Possibly by Robert Brennan.

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