No. 327 NAI DFA 19/97

Extract from a confidential report from Michael MacWhite to
Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Washington DC, 24 March 1936

The activities of the Saorstát diplomatic and consular service in the United States during the past year have been many and varied. Matters so far apart as trade development and genealogical research, court procedure, and animal quarantine have all been treated.

The principal object of a diplomatic mission is, of course, the maintenance of cordial relations with the Government to which it is accredited. This has had our particular attention. Members of the Cabinet, ranking State Officials, Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Congressmen and other influential people have been entertained by us (see Annex 1),1 and we, on the other hand, have assisted at many of their social functions.

The friendliest possible relations have been maintained with the Press not only of the U.S. Capital but throughout the whole country. Communications issued by the Legation in connection with the repayment of the Dáil Éireann Loans were widely disseminated by the News Agencies. We have entertained and been entertained in return by the proprietors of such papers as the Washington Post, the Washington Star, the New York Herald-Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Daily News, the Kansas City Star, the Springfield, Ohio Times, etc. As many as twenty-five representatives of the principal News Services of this country assisted at a supper we gave a few months ago.

Many demands have been made on my time by Irish Societies and other organizations, necessitating my absence from Washington. On April 2nd of last year, for example, at a specially convened meeting of press representatives, I handed over the first cheque in repayment of the Dáil Éireann Loans in order to obtain due publicity for which has been regarded as the most generous act on the part of any Government for a long time. On May 1st, I addressed the Bar Association of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and on May 25th, the Federal Bar Association of Washington, D.C. On June 20th, I gave a radio address at Pittsburgh, Pa., and on the following day talked to a gathering of 12,000 at the Ancient Order of Hibernian's Field Day.

Although I was absent on leave during part of July and August, my duties in this respect did not cease. At San Francisco I addressed the representatives of the various Irish Societies of that City on July 30th, and gave interviews to the Press on conditions in Ireland. On August 7th, I spoke to an Irish gathering of 2,000 at Los Angeles, and on August 15th was the official guest of the San Diego Exposition Committee. A week later I talked to an Irish group at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and towards the end of August gave an interview to the Denver newspapers. All this was during my summer vacation. Five or six weeks later, on October 5th, I opened the Feis of the United Irish Counties Association at which over 10,000 persons assisted. On Nov. 5th, I addressed the banquet given by the National Horse Show Association of America in honour of the foreign officers, assisted at the show for two or three days, and returned to Washington in time to address the Class Reunion of the Wilson Teacher's College on Nov. 9th. On Nov. 26th I addressed the meeting launching the annual tuberculosis drive of this City, and on Feb. 12th addressed the St. Alphonsus Association of Boston. On St. Patrick's Day, Mar. 17th, I was the guest of honour of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick at Miami Florida.

In all these places I have been most cordially welcomed, in many instances by people who could not lay claim to Irish ancestry. Extraordinary good-will towards the Saorstát exists everywhere throughout the United States, but in some parts it requires cultivating. In some of the southern states, for example, the Irish were not very popular a decade or so ago, but the situation has now changed for the better. Miami, Florida, Memphis, Tennessee, and San Diego, California are striking examples of this change.

In Annex 22 are some details of negotiations between the Legation and the Departments of State and Agriculture for the facilitation of Saorstát exports to the United States. A considerable amount of correspondence has resulted from the repayment of the Dáil Éireann Loans, and there is a growing demand for information on all kinds of questions pertaining to Ireland. In this as in all the work of the Legation, Mr. Brennan3 has rendered services of which I cannot speak too highly. I do not think I exaggerate in saying that it is only since his appointment as Secretary here that the Legation has functioned satisfactorily.

The total receipts for notarial and other services rendered by the Legation and Consulates in the United States for the twelve months March 1st, 1935, to February 29th, 1936, amounted to approximately $80,000. The expenditures including salaries, rentals, etc., amounted to $145,000. The cost of the Repayment Office, which amounted to $38,500, is included in this total. From this it may be gathered that three-fourths of the normal cost of the diplomatic and consular service was paid out of revenue obtained in this country. The Saorstát is probably the only country having representation in the United States so favourably situated. The many services rendered to the Government, to traders, hotelkeepers, railways, as well as the transmission of nearly £300,000 to heirs in Ireland have, therefore, cost the country but a little more than £5,000.

Before finishing this report on the Legation's activities, I should like to point out that the usefulness of a nation's diplomatic representative depends to a great extent on his surroundings. The French, British, Italians, Cubans, Brazilians, etc. realized this long ago. Their Missions are housed in palatial buildings. The Saorstát, on the contrary, has no official residence for its Minister who is obliged to occupy a comparatively small apartment in a hotel. The Chancery which until recently was rather meanly housed, is now more suitable but it does not satisfy all requirements in so far as it is indispensable that the Legation and Chancery should be combined. In other words, diplomatic custom decrees that the residence of the Minister and the office of the Legation be under the same roof. As at present situated it is a continual struggle for me to uphold the dignity of the Saorstát, to receive guests and to entertain on say the same scale as the Minister from Panama or the Minister from Norway. A country like the Saorstát while avoiding unnecessary glitter and show should be mindful that it does not suffer in its relations with foreign nations through parsimony and shabbiness in is diplomatic outfit. The representatives of Albania and Portugal are the only other two European representatives who are housed in hotels. Unlike the Saorstát, those countries boast of but very few nationals in the United States.

[matter omitted]

1 Not printed.

2 Not printed.

3 Robert Brennan (1881-1964), Secretary, Irish Legation, Washington (1934-38)

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