Volume 8 1945~1948

Doc No.

No. 40 NAI DFA 305/23 Part 1B

Letter from Seán Murphy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Paris, 29 November 1945

With reference to your minute 205/149 of the 5th November,1 Breton sympathisers frequently call at the Legation to enquire about the possibility of travelling to Ireland, and I have taken the opportunity to question some of them. The position, in general, seems to be as follows:- Breton organizations of a purely cultural type are functioning quite freely, e.g. the Cercle Celtique at Rennes, and the Cercle Celtique, 40 Rue du Chateaudun, Paris (see my minute 842/45 of the 8th November, 1945).2

The teaching of the Breton language in State schools which was permitted for a time (under the Vichy régime) has been suppressed. On the other hand the language, though, presumably, frowned upon officially, is at present taught in schools conducted, independently of the State, by Religious bodies.

Breton writers and cultural propagandists who used the German controlled radio (at Rennes, for instance) during the occupation, for purposes which they claim had nothing to do with collaboration are being dealt with as severely as other French subjects charged with collaboration with the enemy. The number of Bretons classed as collaborators must, however, be relatively large. Many Bretons did, in fact, serve in the German army.

Stories about shootings without trial are not to be relied upon. Incidents of violence did occur in Brittany during the liberation struggle as elsewhere in France. I understand that a Breton priest was in fact shot by the maquis somewhere in the region of Brest, but I have been unable to obtain any confirmation about the persecution of Breton clergy. Father William Purcell, an Irish Holy Cross Father at Le Mans, who knows the Bretons very well, tells me that he knows of no case of the imprisonment of a Breton priest.

I should add, for your information, that some of the Bretons who called here recently, stated that some of their brethren had already reached Ireland 'en fraude'.

1 Not printed.

2 Not printed.