Friday, January 16, 2009
Ireland Expresses Condolences - May 1945
The above image purports to be a primary source document in the form of a letter written by the United States Ambassador to Ireland, Mr. David Gray, expressing his concern regarding a breach of diplomatic protocol.
Ambassador Gray served in this capacity from 15 April 1940 to 24 June 1947. He was an Uncle through marriage to Elanore Roosevelt and may have been more sensitive to this slight than others in his position.
This document image, as well as several others from different sources that corroborate this event, are availible through the Nation Archives, Ireland (www.nationalarchives.ie). It should be noted that much of Mr. Walshe's personal correspondence has yet to be released to the public and it is difficult to build a ballanced picture from only a few sources; however, given Conor Cruise O'Brian's observations, one can not help but wonder.
In recent biographies of Mr. Joseph P. Walshe, Irish authors report Ambassador Gray's strong bias against Mr. Walshe. Ambassador Gray asserted in official correspondence that Mr. Walshe favored the Axis powers over the Allies during WWII. Against this portrait, Irish historians present the argument that Mr. Walshe presented a nuetral face for Ireland's policy during the war but was secretly pro-Allies in his beliefs.
More research of course needs to be conducted on this subject.
It is difficult, however, to not give weight to the behavior of Ireland's senior diplomat and other state representatives in this symbolic visit to Nazi Germany's ambassador in Dublin.
While it is noted that this visit occurred in May of 1945, and that Ireland has more than a half-century of diplomatic evolution since these events, one wonders what kinds of seeds were sown and what kind of harvest was reaped by politicians and diplomats evidencing this kind of approach.
Was this a simple breach of protocol, or was it a sign of other ideas then current in Irish politics and culture?