No. 43 NAI DT S1801J

Memorandum by John V. Fahy on the extension of the Irish Free State consular service in the United States of America

Dublin, 27 April 1932


The Consulate General at New York was established in September 1930 with the intention that Mr. Macauley1 should take over from the British Consuls all the work hitherto performed by them for Saorstát nationals throughout the whole of the U.S.A. At a later date a Consular office was set up at Boston, mainly for visa and passport work at that port. Previous to this the office at Boston was purely for visa and passport work. The Legation at Washington is also a Consular unit for the district of Columbia. The Boston office has a circumscribed ambit, viz., the territory comprised in the British Consular district of Boston. The New York Consulate General is for the rest of the U.S.A., but no hard-and-fast line of division has been made.

The position then is that there are three Saorstát Consular posts in the whole of the U.S.A., and these are expected to carry on the work, so far as Saorstát nationals and Saorstát trade are concerned, hitherto performed by the British Consular offices, which number 18 main stations plus several auxiliaries plus a commercial staff attached to the British Embassy at Washington.

This chain of British Consular stations afforded, up to September 1930, very full facilities to our nationals. These facilities are not now available, and quite obviously the interests of our nationals will suffer through lack of local and convenient facilities. For example, a Saorstát national on the Western coast must obtain a passport from New York (5 days by mail), and an Irish-American desiring to visit this country must similarly obtain a Saorstát visa from New York by post. Shipping companies and travel bureaus have complained from time to time about the lack of sufficiently extensive Consular facilities, especially in the matter of passports and visas. While in certain cases these complaints are valid enough, in practice it has been found that the centralisation at New York has not seriously inconvenienced travellers as it is always possible for travellers to the Irish Free State to procure passports or visas on their way through the ports of Boston or New York, from which they generally sail.

The transfer of the work from the British stations to the Saorstát stations has been very satisfactory, taking all the circumstances into account. Passport and visa work can, as indicated above, be handled with a fair degree of success in the New York office for the whole of the U.S.A. The authentication and legalislation of documents executed in any part of the U.S.A. can be handled at New York. It is, however, in the handling of Estate cases and Compensation cases that the services of a local Consul are particularly felt. To perform this work satisfactorily it is really necessary to have a Consul on the spot who can give that advice and assistance so much needed, and who can approach the local Courts.

We have taken away the very comprehensive service of the British and we have put very little in its place.

We have two alternatives:-

(1) To use the British Consular Service in places where there is no Saorstát office. This is quite impracticable, and cannot be considered.

(2) To establish such Consular offices in the U.S.A. as will afford a reasonably adequate service to Irish nationals.

This does not mean that we need to set up offices wherever Great Britain is established. A lesser chain of services will prove adequate. We require an office on the Western coast at San Francisco, one at Chicago and possibly one in the Southern States. These, with the three already established, working under the direction of the Consulate General at New York so far as Consular work is concerned, and subject to the Legation at Washington for diplomatic questions, would afford, it is submitted, a reasonably adequate Irish Consular Service in the U.S.A.

What would be the cost of these additional posts? On the basis of one Consul and one Typist at each place with a small office, the cost would be about £1,800 per office. As against this outlay, there would be extra fees collected both for Consular work and for passport and visa work. We are aware that American citizens from Chicago and the Western States elect to disembark first at a British port rather than be obliged to go to the trouble of procuring a Saorstát visa from New York. No exact estimate of the loss can be given, but the extra fees from Chicago on visas alone might be put broadly at £1,000 per annum at least. Information goes to show that shipping agents and travel bureaus do urge American citizens to disembark at a British port in the first instance rather than at a Saorstát port, as it is more convenient for the shipping agents and travel agents to procure a British visa locally on the spot. What we actually lose in this way is, of course, problematical, but roughly 500 cases from the Chicago district would probably be about right.

As regards Estate cases and Compensation cases, there is no doubt that local offices would be very helpful, as this is the type of work that it is quite impossible to do by correspondence from a distance. The personal contact is essential for success.

If we eventually decide to collect a percentage fee on monies handled in Estate and Compensation cases, we shall get extra fees of course for additional work taken on in the Middle and Western States.

As regards Trade work, local representatives are obviously necessary to interest importers in Irish produce and Irish manufactured articles. The Consul General in New York can obviously not be effective in trade propaganda in the Middle and Western States. We have found in Great Britain that the local man is essential, and in this connection it is interesting to note that the Free State has a Trade Inspector at Birmingham, at Glasgow and at London, in addition to 11 other part-time Trade Reporters in various towns in Great Britain, who furnish reports to the High Commissioner on the local markets and local conditions.

[signed] J.V. Fahy

1 William J.B. Macaulay.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO