No. 285  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A8

Extracts from a report from Captain Joseph Healy to
Colonel Dan Bryan (Dublin)1
(Secret) (G2/X/162)

LISBON, 24 May 1943

I have the honour to make you the following interim report, which I take the opportunity of Dr. Hayes'2 returning via Foynes to transmit to you: it is hoped that adverse circumstances, which prevented my following several of your suggestions, will not prevail on my return to Madrid.

[matter omitted]

Lives at Legation, where she runs house as well as office for K.[erney]. Much more Spanish than Irish her English is stilted, sprinkled with Spanish expressions. Rapidly settling into old maid type. Several Spanish friends. Wealthy, who take her places. Knows Spain well, apparently efficient as Secretary and House-Keeper.

10. K[erney]
Extremely cordial and expansive mentioned his annoyance at receiving wire from Ext. Aff. instructing him to give us a friendly reception, asked did they expect he'd receive us with a gun. Lives very well complains very much about high cost of living at present in Spain (Complaint at least in part, justified, because prices in Spain have risen enormously all round). Availed of opportunity of meeting Sub. Secretary of Spanish Dept. of Ext. Aff. who asked for additional petrol and food rations stated to Sub. Sec. he did not want to deal in black market more than absolutely necessary. Speaks cynically of Spanish Govt. newspapers, controlled by Falange party, are writing up Franco, whose popularity among the people is not at all comparable to the effusive and hollow newspaper reports people are not pro-German, but newspapers emphasise Axis gains Franco, tho' he once had the support of the Monarchists, reluctant to re-establish Monarchy as he does not wish to play second fiddle and not sure whether the Prince, if recalled, would be a yes man Falange organisation, in control of everything, riddled with graft. His friends appear to be pro-Ally, and hence not devoted to Franco, type of Spaniard. Acquainted with Duchess of Tetuan, (a) whose friends cooled to her because she recently married a German, many years resident in Spain, a French Monsignor, attached to the French Legation, who gave up his post there recently and went anti-Vichy, the former Spanish Minister in Dublin, who was offered reinstatement to grace by the present Government but tho' living in Madrid, holds aloof from Government circles and (b) Walter Meade, a Mexican of Irish ancestry living in Spain. No evidence of acquaintance in either Axis or British circles. Son attends French Institute in Madrid. No evidence of acquaintance ship with any Irish in Spain, except the Loreto nuns in Madrid.

Spoke of two Irishmen in Miranda, McGrath and Foster, soldiers in British army, escaped from prison camps into Spain released, one by error, other at instance of British he took no action, as both British soldiers. Mentioned old story that (c) Fr. O'Hara, Vice Rector Salamanca was rumoured to be, or have been spy for British. Mentioned to Col. McK. as possibility that Red Cross could act in case, two Spanish brothers Uribe-Echevarria in Dublin, one a water power engineer, other suffering from advanced syphilis. Appears to know nothing of Aileen O'Brien. Made no mention of (e) Frank R.[yan] (I considered it inadvisable, even if opportunity offered, to open this subject with Miss Donnelly).

11. Mr. O'D.[onovan]
Also very friendly. Told me he had discreet enquiry from British re Jenny BYRNE (a) who, they said, had been talking wildly in Lisbon he summoned her and warned her to be more discreet she became most indignant, took advice very badly, and left in a huff (He took me aside for a talk, thereby admitting he remembered my G.2 connection K. never even hinted at it).

[matter omitted]

13. MR. CROFTON (X)3
Brit. G.2. (met through Dr. Hayes) young, deals with Ireland, educated in Downside, speaks Portuguese, French and German, in Czechoslovakia before war. Enquired about Jenny Byrne (Warnings about her evidently came from London Brit. censorship?) told could give her (politically) clean bill of health. Deals with Eastwood case. Stated no suspicion otherwise of Irish seamen, except Capt. Gibbons about whom dubious. Complains strongly that no channel for co-operation, enquiry, swapping of information with Irish officials here both diplomats, eminently correct, too much so, for his point of view. Evidently good machinery and funds at his disposal. Has for example, copying machine (possibly Rutherford). Facetious about use of kettle, considers it amateurish, but referred to use of starch (reference not understood by Doc. Hayes or myself). Worried about talkativeness on part of all seamen, whether British or Irish, to strangers in bars here they let themselves be drawn out about what they saw on voyage out, with disastrous results to British convoys. Germans have uncanny knack of picking out and sinking vessels laden with wolfram, apparently a precious cargo. Stated that Germans have submarine bases in North of Spain. Has dealt with several Portuguese 'doublecrossers', whom he knows to be in pay of Germans and British. Made plea for (1) liaison with some Irish official capable of throwing light on certain of his problems, and swapping information of mutual interest often working in dark, and fruitlessly, as much of his information comes from London with an inevitable time lag: (2) that seamen be effectively warned against talking in any way to anyone about what they see (emphasised that their own seamen are offenders in this respect). Spoke vaguely about Irish people being very useful to him, and stated 'I want to be perfectly frank with you, but of course can only be 90% frank there is always 10% I.R.A. and so on, where I cannot be frank and open with you'.


  1. Col. Mc K[inney] is very eager that nothing be said about this Red Cross business till he gets home, and wishes that the complete history of the mission be never generally known.
  2. MR. O'BYRNE here was unobtrusively questioned as to whether he had ever come across a case of a faked Irish passport, and stated that he never saw or heard of such a case.
  3. It was suggested to Mr. O'B[yrne] that he drop a hint when opportunity offers, to people writing to Ireland, particularly religious, that they be discreet in their correspondence.
  4. Mr. O'Byrne mentioned an Irish priest, returning from Rome who had his coat lined with Irish (or British) currency the priest told him of it in the Legation, and Mr. O'Byrne warned him of the offence and its penalties the priest apparently got rid of the currency in Lisbon.
  5. Col. McK[inney] refrained from mentioning to K. that we had visited the British Ambassador in Madrid.
  6. General political and other observations; as this is only an interim report I am not including a section on these if required, it can be furnished on my return.

Dr. Hayes has given me further instructions re MAINS (X).4 I shall do my best to secure information whenever I return to Madrid.

Any further instructions would be appreciated I beg to suggest the following system: should you wish me to enquire further into, or drop, any of the matters referred to in this report. I have memorised each section, and it would be necessary only to send me the number, followed by

X, meaning follow up of interest.
Y, " pursue, but discreetly.
Z, " drop.

For example: 7(a)Y would mean you are interested in Aileen O'Brien5 and youwish me to make further enquiries but very cautiously about her.

I shall do all in my power to bring this mission to a rapid conclusion, and have the honour to be, Sir,

[Signed] JOS. G. HEALY, Capt.

1 This report was sent by Captain Joseph Guilfoyle of G2 to Frederick H. Boland at the Department of External Affairs on 2 June 1943

2 Dr. Richard Hayes (1902-76), Director of the National Library (1941-67). Hayes worked for G2 during the Second World War and was in Spain under the cover of an Irish Manuscripts Commission project examining papers at the archives at Simancas.

3 See the last section of this document for an explanation of (X).

4 Mary P. Mains, a governess in Madrid who was working for German intelligence seeking contacts with the IRA. She was also in contact with Leopold Kerney.

5 The section dealing with Aileen O'Brien Section 7(a) has been omitted.

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