The Minister in Ireland (Gray) to the Secretary of State

top secret
No. 2094

Sir: I have the honor to report as follows. On February 11, 1946, the Most Reverend Archbishop John Mooney4a of Detroit and the Most Reverend Archbishop Stritch of Chicago, Cardinals Designate, arrived at Rineanna Airport enroute for Rome about 4:30 p.m. Their plane departed about 6 p.m. for Rome via Paris. Their arrival had been scheduled for 8 a.m. and their departure for 9:30 a.m. Official engagements in Dublin prevented me from presenting myself at Rineanna at 8 a.m. on the morning of the 11th and no notification reached me of the delay until 6 p.m. that evening. I therefore arranged that Vice Consul McKnight at Rineanna should greet them for me and present personal letters to each of them.

The Most Reverend Archbishop Spellman of New York and the Most Reverend Archbishop Glennon of St. Louis were scheduled to arrive at Rineanna at 8 a.m. on the morning of February 12. I arranged, therefore, to leave Dublin on the afternoon of the 11th to spend a night in Limerick and to greet the American Cardinals Designate the following morning. Mr. de Valera,5 the Permanent Secretary for [Page 115] External Affairs, Mr. J. P. Walshe, and a military aide of the President of Eire, Mr. S. T. O’Kelly, welcomed the Cardinals Designate officially in the name of the Irish State. No invitation to me had been extended, but I had notified Mr. Walshe of my intention to be present and subsequently was invited to the breakfast after Mass in the Limerick Cathedral. Dr. Spellman’s plane was three hours late and arrived at Rineanna at 11 a.m. A plane containing the Reverend Dr. Gannon, President of Fordham University, and a dozen representatives of American newspapers arrived an hour earlier. On the plane with Archbishop Spellman was Archbishop Glennon and Dr. Tien, Archbishop of [Peiping] China, also a Cardinal Designate. Mr. James A. Farley6 was one of the company. The party proceeded to Limerick where Dr. Spellman said Mass, but in view of the lateness of the hour the breakfast, which had been arranged by the Bishop of Limerick, was called off and the official party proceeded to a special train as the guests of the Irish Government and left for Killarney at 2 p.m. As I was not invited to join this party, I said goodby to Dr. Spellman and Mr. Farley and extended an invitation to each of them to be my guests at this Legation if they returned to America via Ireland.

The program arranged by Mr. de Valera for the American Cardinals made it seem likely that the occasion was to be used for propaganda and to launch Mr. de Valera’s American campaign for American intervention in the Partition question. On the 5th day of January there was published in The Leader, a weekly Dublin review, an editorial article on the subject of American intervention in regard to ending Partition. In the course of this article a letter purporting to have been written by the Secretary of State to Senator Mead in reply to a letter from the Senator transmitting resolutions from an Irish society in the United States requesting American intervention in the Partition question7 is printed in The Leader. The Secretary was reported to have said:

“Despite our traditional friendship for the Irish people, the interests of the United States require the most careful consideration of any proposal affecting our relations, not only with Ireland, but also with the United Kingdom, our close associate and ally in the war. It is the considered view of this Government that the constitutional relationship between Ireland and Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, is a matter for determination by the two interested Governments. The United States Government feels, therefore, that it must [Page 116] take the position that the altering of the political boundaries between Ireland and Northern Ireland is not a matter in which it might properly intervene.”

In view of this publication, which presumably was read by Mr. de Valera and the Department of External Affairs, the Irish Government had notice of the Secretary’s published position in regard to this question. It would appear, therefore, that in his address at the dinner, which he gave to the American visitors in Killarney on the evening of February 12, he was aware that he was asking the Cardinals to oppose American policy when he asked for their help in “freeing” the Six Counties of the North as he termed it. The relevant portions of his address, as reported in his official organ, The Irish Press, read as follows:

“When we look over the various States in the world today (said Mr. de Valera) we find that in them our people, and the descendants of many of those driven out of our country, have been regarded worthy enough to be in places of the greatest responsibility and the greatest dignity.

“When you come here then to Ireland, you are coming back to a land that would like to give you a welcome associated with a mother’s welcome.

“It was the welcome of a motherland you gave me when I went to the United States to represent this country.

“One of the objects we had when we were trying to win the independence of this country was that it would be a worthy country to which our people could come back. We knew you wanted to come back and we know you wanted to come back to a free nation.

“We are glad that as far as this part of Ireland is concerned, we can greet you as a free people—free in every sense.

“I went to the United States to ask for the help of all friends to aid us in our struggle, and I still want their powerful aid and influence to see that it is not merely the Twenty-Six Counties of this country which will be free, but the whole Thirty-Two Counties. (Applause)

“I know you will not regard this as a matter of politics when I introduce this matter here. I do so because in welcoming you back to the motherland we know that you feel as we do, that the motherland has the right to be completely and absolutely free.

“We are very glad to welcome you here and delighted that you found it possible to drop in on us before you go to Rome. We hope that you will find it possible to do so on your return from Rome, and I would like to extend once more the invitation which I already gave yesterday.

“The President and the Government will be delighted and proud to see you and I can assure you that you will get just as happy a welcome as you got in the streets of Killarney this evening.”

Mr. de Valera’s statement, “I know you will not regard this as a matter of politics when I introduce this matter here,” is somewhat noteworthy. No member of the American party is reported as having made any comment on Mr. de Valera’s appeal. Dr. Spellman, in [Page 117] speaking to the crowd from the hotel entrance, is reported to have said, “I am very happy that New York has given the gift of Mr. de Valera to Ireland, because Ireland has given many gifts to New York.”

As my telegrams and despatches have reported to you, it has been evident for many months that Mr. de Valera has been planning to inject the question of Partition into American politics. I have believed that if this program became effective and threatened the integrity of Northern Ireland that the Government of Northern Ireland would retaliate with an aggressive propaganda that might well result in raising a mischievous religious issue in the United States. Confidential advices from Northern Ireland have borne out this view, and I therefore decided personally and unofficially to advise certain Catholic dignitaries in the United States, whom I knew personally, of my anxiety regarding the situation. I prepared the attached Memorandum8 and sent copies of it to Archbishop Stritch, Archbishop Mooney and Archbishop Spellman; also to certain Catholic Senators, with whom I have a friendly relation, and to other Catholic leaders of importance, whom I know are as anxious to avoid the raising of religious issues in the United States as I am. I believed that it was opportune that this Memorandum reached the Cardinals before their arrival in Ireland. I wish to make it clear that although I am enclosing a copy of the Memorandum to the Department, I do so as a private paper sent personally to friends on my personal responsibility and without purporting in any way to speak for the Department of State, which, of course, has full liberty to disavow my action.

Respectfully yours,

David Gray
  1. The reference is to Archbishop Edward Mooney.
  2. Eamon de Valera, Irish Prime Minister and Minister for External Affairs.
  3. Postmaster General of the United States, 1933–1940.
  4. The letter under reference was sent by Secretary of State James Byrnes to Senator James Mead of New York on October 15, 1945 in reply to a message from the Senator forwarding resolutions received from the Clanna Gael of New York and Bronx counties (841E.00/10–145).
  5. Not printed; see footnote 3, p. 113.