Volume 3 1926~1932

Doc No.

No. 249 NAI DFA GR 224/2

Letter from Patrick J. O'Byrne to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Brussels, 23 August 1929

￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿Subject:- Visit of the Dublin Bohemian Football Club to Belgium￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿￿

I have the honour to inform you that three members of the committee of the abovenamed club called here on Friday the 16th inst., and informed me that the team wished to place a wreath on the Unknown Soldier's grave on the following day. Further, they were anxious that this office should be identified with the proceedings, and that I should give them similar assistance as that accorded by Count O'Kelly last year to the International team which visited this country.

On enquiry I learned that the object of the Bohemian team's visit was to play a series of matches with prominent clubs at Charleroi and Liege in a cup competition, and that their engagements had a certain international significance. The day previous to their coming to Brussels, the team had, in fact, played one of these games at Charleroi, at which it was estimated that some 15,000 spectators had attended. The Irish team received a very warm welcome from the British Consul in the town, but the proceedings were marred somewhat - from our point of view - by the heralding of the Bohemian team on the field under the colours of the Union Jack, which, apparently, was the cause of some manifestation by a section of the crowd, probably British ex-Service Men. The incident, though very small in itself, was bound to get a certain amount of publicity and in the circumstances, I decided to make the occasion of the placing of the wreath in Brussels a purely Irish national one. I accordingly promised the team to attend officially as the representative of the office here, and notified the acting-General Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in advance of the proposed ceremony, thus getting his official sanction.

The placing of the wreath was a very dignified little ceremony, and quite a large number of people - including some parties of tourists, gathered around the cenotaph when the team arrived with the wreath, which was a large floral harp in the Saorstát colours. Mr. Wickham, secretary of the club, made a brief opening statement before placing the wreath, which I subsequently translated into French, continuing with a short address on behalf of the club, a copy of which I attach hereto.1

Before the club left Brussels for Liege, where the remaining matches were to be played, I lent our Saorstát flag to Mr. Wickham to be displayed on the ground during the games. The team seemed to be satisfied with the reception I gave them in Brussels and expressed their appreciation.

In connection with the ceremony at the Unknown Soldier's grave which was at 9.30 in the morning, I attended in morning dress and took a taxi from my residence to the cenotaph, returning subsequently to the office. The taxi fare was 16 francs for the whole journey, and I will be glad to have your covering sanction to charge the amount to the office account for the current month.

[signed] P.J. O'Byrne

1 Not printed.