No. 63 NAI DFA ES Spain

Extract from a letter from George Gavan Duffy to Robert Brennan (Dublin)

Genoa, 5 March 1921

A Chara,
Since I wrote you from Paris I have been to Spain. I went first to Salamanca where I was most hospitably received by the Rector, Dr. D.J. O'Doherty and his Vice-rector, Fr. R. Fitzgerald and got an ovation from the Students 40 in number who insisted on presenting me with some fine smoking appliances, as it was the first opportunity they had had of showing kindness to an envoy of Dail.

The Rector volunteered to come with me to Madrid where we spent a week together. It is literally time1 that the standing of the Irish College is such that he could get an introduction to anyone, and everywhere we were extremely well received. I do not think there is a country in Europe where we are held in such high honour and affection although the Madrid people are outdone in zeal for Ireland by the Catalans in Barcelona. Time was too short to see more than the principal people, and, in view of my company in Madrid the people I saw were naturally for the most part on the Right and do not include the leaders of the Socialist and Left generally, who, however, are with us.

Better information is very badly wanted and correction of Agency wires from London. The best plan for dealing with the press would be to have the Paris Bulletin translated into Spanish in Paris and sent from there to Spanish and Catalan papers, to avoid raising Catalan susceptibilities by a Spanish translation published in Madrid, for the Barcelona people will take material in Spanish coming from abroad, without difficulty. I do not, however, think that Paris can at present cope with a Spanish translation, and pending further arrangements I am giving S.T.O'C. a list of addresses to which the French Bulletin might be sent.

Miss O'Brien in Barcelona is well in with the Catalans and she says that the next best thing to disseminating the Bulletin in Spanish from Paris would be to do so from Madrid. She thinks the Catalan devotion to us would make them generally overlook the annoyance of getting their Irish news from Madrid.

She would be very useful herself as Press Agent in Madrid.

She is keen on trade and could act in that direction too. She says she knows Spanish well enough to translate the Bulletin. She seems very competent and wide-awake and would hold her own though she recognises that in Spain (of all countries) it is a disadvantage to be represented by a woman, for girls and women are treated as dolls and, if they claim to be taken seriously, are thought disagreeable.

If Miss O'B. were appointed she would want only a small salary, enough to enable her to cover all expenses of living quietly in Madrid and of her official work for you. You may take it, I think, that living costs much the same as in London the peseta being worth about ten pence. She would like to be appointed. If you entertain the matter terms can best be arranged with herself direct through the post from Paris to London. I have no hesitation in recommending Miss O'B but if Art O'B could be sent out as Envoy I think the effect would be excellent, for the field is a splendid one, and Spain has a big influence in South America.

I was introduced to a certain Dr. Getino a Dominican scholar (by the Rector) who is very enthusiastic for Ireland. He proposed to undertake the translation and dissemination of the Bulletin himself, at a trifle above the actual expense, we supplying him with a duplicating machine which he would use for his other work. The Dominicans are very powerful in Spain, but I think it would be unwise to tie ourselves up so closely (even behind the scenes) to a religious order. But it would be better to let Fr. Getino to do the work (in which he would not appear before the press as public) than to let the present silence in Spain continue undisturbed.

The special line I took in dealing with Spanish people generally as to the international situation was this:- That Germany and the U.S.A. are coming closer together, for joint operations in Russia and so on; that this entente will be a severe blow to England and her friends against whom it will be directed; that it opens up a new vista of international relations and that the proposed Anglo-Spanish Alliance would commit Spain to backing the wrong and losing group against the virile and winning group; that England's anxiety for that Alliance was due to her loss of all her friends on the Continent and the danger of her isolation, now that nobody trusted her, that her anxiety for Spanish friendship was further due to eagerness to improve the position of J. Bull at the Vatican where the Spanish friendship would be of very special importance; and that England wanted to collar Spain before the economic entente cordiale of North and South America (a grave menace to England) became an accomplished fact.

I pointed out how the Irish population in America in conjunction with the Spanish and German elements could build up a strong joint policy directed to establishing the Commonwealth of N and S America (on which Spain is keen) and to strengthening the ties between Germany and America, which is the only big power in Europe that has not ill-treated Spain and has no Gibraltar to its discredit.

A great deal could be done along this line of country if we had the right man in Madrid. I found people very receptive, and if we made ourselves strong in Madrid the result would be of the utmost importance in Rome where Spain stands very high indeed. That is why I suggest Art O'B.[rien] for the job. He knows Spanish and has just the reasoning faculties to till this very important field.

1 Writer probably meant 'true'.

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