Volume 1 1919~1922

Doc No.

No. 15 DFA ES Paris 1919

Sean T O'Ceallaigh to Dublin1
(No. 4) (Copy)

Paris, 15 June 1919

A Chara:
I am sending you enclosed herewith copy of a letter received recently from John Devoy, New York.2 There seems, to judge by the letter, to be some kind of friction developing between some of our friends in New York and some of those in Philadelphia. Perhaps you have been already advised of this. Nevertheless, I think it well that Headquarters should see this letter.

Yours dated June 2nd with four parchment sheets were handed to me on 10th inst.3 by our friend W. These documents will be dealt with as desired. The other document which you say is being forwarded, to be delivered to representatives of various powers, is awaited. We shall hold up delivery of general memorandum pending its arrival.


We note what you say re consular agents, and agree that it will be necessary to have such in capitals as suggested by you, and perhaps some others. I have for some months been in communication with Gaffney, who is now in Switzerland. His present address is: Thomas Fleming, c/o Monsieur Gifford, 57 Am Wendt, Geneve, Suisse. I have not so far got in to touch with C.[hatterton] Hill. The report I received from the person I sent to interview Gaffney was not very favorable. There was no reflection on his character or loyalty to the Republic, but our friend who saw him says his manner was such that he did not think he would make a good impression if appointed as our representative. However, G. is a man of considerable experience in such work and should be of value to us as a representative say in any of the larger cities of Germany or Austria. I think a more useful selection could probably be made for Switzerland - where the population is so keenly divided politically. G's. well known views would make him anathema to a very large section of the Swiss population. He is willing and anxious to be appointed as our representative in Switzerland, but I think, in view of above matters, the whole question ought to be given serious consideration by the Government before they consider appointing him, even in Germany.

As regards the salary proposed to be paid consuls or representatives, I must say I think the amount suggested is by no means sufficient, to enable a man to live decently and pay office and other expenses in Paris.

Madame A.[nne] Vivanti will I expect be returning to Italy in about a week, and I have asked her to go via Switzerland. She has already obtained her visa from the English. I intend to give her copies of our case for presentation to the German, Austrian and Hungarian ministries. I hope to be able to send a copy to-morrow, or the day after, to Dr. O'Hagan for presentation to His Holiness.4 I would require at least one hundred parchments copies altogether of that document if I am to present one to each of the plenipotentiaries here as well as to those others I have mentioned.


As to the U.S. Federation of Labour Convention: Walsh was particularly anxious that Hughes, if possible, and if not he, some other important member of the Irish Labour Party Executive would go to Atlantic City to state the Irish Case. He however thought at that time that he would be able to be present there himself to introduce the Irish representative. Seeing that this was not possible he has cabled a number of our friends in the U.S. Labour Movement requesting them to obtain from their convention an endorsement of Ireland's claim for recognition of the Republic. We do not know how far this will succeed.

Now as to the point you raise re direct communications with Labour. May we say that Seoirse and I fully realise the dangers that might arise from this, and we may say that we had no intention to carry on direct communications or negotiations with them. We were given to understand that C.[athal] Shannon was to remain on the Continent - in Holland or elsewhere - and that besides doing his own particular work he was given authority to represent the Republic. This was how G.[avan] D.[uffy] understood the situation when he came over here. We were for this reason anxious to have Shannon's address so that we could keep in touch with him. Needless to say, we have no intention of carrying on negotiations with the Irish Labour Party on our own account, or with any other party or power except in accordance with the Cabinet's instructions, and in case of urgency using those discretionary powers which we understood we are empowered to use.


As to staff: we must say that we have been and still are considerably handicapped in this direction. What we require most is a competent stenographer with a reliable knowledge of French, one who could be relied on to do work equally well in both languages. We find it very difficult to get our work done here except with wearisome delay and great trouble. After the arrival of Seoirse, V.[ictor] C[ollins]'s. services were availed of for all kinds of office work and to superintend work given to printer and typing offices, etc. V.C's. services have now been dispensed with, and if the work here is to continue much longer we would be greatly facilitated if we could have the services of such a person as described above. No other type of person would be of much value.

I think it well to state with regard to V.C. that he was of great assistance to me in the beginning, and especially as he had such a wide knowledge of Paris and how to get in touch with people. I thought he would have been able to do a good deal in the way of getting the Paris press interested in our cause, but I regret to say his efforts in this direction did not meet with any success. I had intended keeping him on doing the work at which he has been engaged for the past two months or so, but his own actions have rendered this impossible. He seemed to think of late that he was being slighted by not being taken into confidence on all our affairs, with the result that I have found it absolutely necessary to dispense with his services. He seems very sore on this point which I regret personally very much, as I have the highest respect and affection for him; but his recent exhibitions of dissatisfaction have rendered it absolutely impossible to keep him longer on our staff.


As to Caulfield, I think I have already told you what I think of him. He is employed on the staff of the 'Gazette Franco Britannique' here, and induced the editor and proprietor of that paper to publish articles in several numbers of his paper in favour of our cause. I treated him for a long time as a friend and thought he was a person I could trust. He brought along the editor of the paper to meet me and I was not long in conversation with him before I was given plainly to understand that his only interest in us was a material one. He put it straight to me that he was out for what he could make out of us, and if we were prepared to pay him he would serve us accordingly. After this particular interview I discussed the matter with Caulfield and he admitted to me that the editor was not a person to be trusted and he even told me that the latter was not a very desirable or reliable character. I personally after enquiry discovered that this particular paper did not count for anything and that it would not be worth our while, even if we had money to throw away, throwing money on him or his journal, so I dropped the connection as quickly and quietly as I could.

I don't know what C. may have written to J.J., or what charges he may have made, but my opinion is that if he were as sincerely interested in our cause as he pretends to be he would not have sought to bring me into close touch with a newspaper or with a man who was so undesirable as he later on described his friend the editor to be.


I am not, nor are any of us here in the least downhearted as to the prospects of the cause. On the contrary, I feel quite hopeful. The U.S. Senate resolution has been a great source of comfort to us. I am satisfied that we are not going to secure recognition for the Republic before the Conference now sitting comes to an end, but I am equally well satisfied that we have advanced considerably along the road towards that goal.

The interview that W.[alshe] and D.[unne] had with the President this week has only confirmed my own views as to Wilson from the beginning. There is no doubt now that Wilson looked upon the Irish Question as a 'domestic' one for the British Empire. I am quite confirmed too in the view I have already several times expressed that Wilson really said this at that dinner to the U.S. Senate in March last, and that the denial afterwards issued was merely an 'official' denial. Walsh put the whole matter up to him very plainly in the interview and the only thing Wilson would promise was that he would continue to do what he and Col. House had already been doing - bring all possible 'unofficial' pressure on Lloyd George and the British Government to settle the Irish Question. He did say he and the American Commission to Negotiate Peace would act on the Senate's resolution and present it without any recommendation to the Peace Conference, asking that they give a hearing to our delegates, but he said that this latter could not be done unless it were unanimously agreed to by the Big Four, and with Lloyd George present we know in advance that nothing will be done as a result of the resolution. We also know that neither Wilson nor any other of the U.S. Commissioners will press the matter in any way. During the interview Walsh quoted to Wilson the passages from his own speeches which are printed in the 'Case' asking him at the same time what he really meant when making such speeches. This angered Wilson more than once, with the result that he so far forgot himself as to say he 'didn't give a d---', and that he knew Walsh was trying to hurt his feelings, but he (Wilson) was not going to allow him to do so etc.

Wilson had a friend - a pressman named Nevins - present with him during the interview. It appears he had Nevins to lunch and then asked him to stay with him during the interview, as he knew he was going to have a stormy time with Walsh. From all of this we can make up our minds that we have little or nothing to hope from Wilson's efforts on our behalf.


I had a long interesting interview to-day with Monsignor Cheretti, Archbishop of Corinth, who is now at Paris as the representative of the Vatican to the Peace Conference. I discussed with him a number of questions relating to affairs in Ireland. I explained to him fully the present political situation in Ireland, and informed him of the overwhelming nature of the demand of the Irish people for recognition of the Republic. He seemed to be fairly well informed on Irish affairs, and I must say was most sympathetic; but I found that his information required to be brought up to date on a number of points. I brought to his notice the question of the more or less unfavorable treatment of the Irish demand by some of the Italian newspapers reputed to be in more or less close touch with the Vatican. He admitted that the papers to which I referred may not have been in the past as favorable in their comments as might be wished by us, but he declared that this was most certainly due to want of proper information. He said that this matter had several times been brought to his notice by Dr. O'Hagan, and that he had endeavoured to use what little influence he possessed to set it right. He promised me that he would in future use his good offices to secure that these newspapers which by the way he said were not to be looked upon as in any way official mouthpieces of the Holy See, would be informed as to the correct attitude to be adopted by them on the Irish Question. I discussed at length with him the attitude of the Irish Hierarchy in general towards the Irish demand, and informed him that the Irish Hierarchy were at one with the people in desiring absolute Independence, and that if there was any difference of opinion amongst them, the difference in almost all cases was only a question of the means to that end. He mentioned, as I expected he would, the strong views held by Cardinal Logue, and reminded me that the Cardinal's views carried great weight with the Holy See. I pointed out to him the fact that the vast majority of the Hierarchy were opposed to the Cardinal's views on this matter, and said to him that I thought this should carry great weight with the Vatican Authorities, especially in view of the fact of the Cardinal's great age, and of his well-known conservative views. Archbishop Cheretti assured me that he personally was in the fullest sympathy with Ireland's desire for Self-Determination, and that he could not see how this could logically be denied to the Irish people. He knew Ireland's history; he knew what the Catholic Church owed to Ireland, and he also had had the advantage of spending long periods in both the United States and Australia, and he knew what the feelings of the Irish in both these countries were. He said I might rest fully assured that as far as he could he would use his good offices to secure that the influence of English propaganda should not prevail against us so far as the Holy See was concerned. He told me that enormous influence of every kind had been used to try to induce the Vatican to interfere on the side of the enemy in the Conscription campaign in Ireland last year, and he said he was glad to be able to assure me that these efforts had been unavailing. I also availed of this opportunity to discuss the case of Father O'Flanagan. I reminded His Excellency of the disgraceful way in which Father O'Flanagan had been treated because of the fact that he stood up for the rights and liberties of the people of Ireland. I pointed out to him that the action of Father O'Flanagan in Cavan had been later fully justified by the united Hierarchy themselves when they passed their resolutions against the right of the English Government to conscript our people. I also pointed out to him that if Father O'Flanagan had been guilty of the most heinous offence he could not possibly have been treated worse than he was by his Bishop. I suggested that his shameful treatment was due to and purely only to the political bias of his Bishop and of Cardinal Logue, and I suggested to him with all respect that this treatment ought not to be allowed to continue. I told him that I knew that the Archbishop of the diocese had intervened and had made an effort to settle the matter; that Dr. Gilmartin had suggested terms which Father O'Flanagan agreed to accept, but that though the Archbishop of the Province was fully satisfied, that these terms would meet the case, the Bishop of Father O'Flanagan's diocese would not accept them. I asked that this persecution should end. His Excellency pointed out to me that this was a matter between Father O'Flanagan and his Ordinary, and as such it was very difficult for him or any other outsider to intervene. He said it was a most delicate matter, but that he would think about it. Before leaving the subject I made him acquainted with the strong views of the Irish people on the matter and said that it would be a great blessing if he could see his way to intervene and bring about an early settlement.

I raised the question of the reported appointment by the Vatican of a special legation in London, and pointed out to His Excellency the possible effects of such action in Ireland, and emphasized the fact that it was more than likely that such an appointment, if made, would be used to the detriment of the political aspirations of the Irish people and would not rebound to the interests of the Church. His Excellency assured me that there was absolutely no foundation whatsoever for the report that such an appointment is to be made.

I think I have covered all the points I wanted to mention, but would like to assure you that whatever action we took in regard to the working arrangement with the Egyptians and South Africans was taken with full knowledge of the relative strength of our case. I do not expect much to come from our consultations with either of these people. We can be of much more service to them than they can be to us. We were glad to be able to offer them helpful advice and suggestions and to assure them in the name of our Government of our cordial support and sympathy in their fight. We have at all events laid the foundations of a working arrangement with them which may help them and us in the future and which if it doesn't give us much material help or support, may be of advantage from a moral standpoint.

With every assurance of kindest regards to yourself, and all our friends,

Do buan chara
Seán T. O'Ceallaigh

1 It is not clear to whom the letter was sent.

2 Not Located.

3 Not Located.

4 Dr John Hagan (sometimes O'Hagan), the Rector of the Irish College in Rome.