No. 48 NAI DFA ES Paris 1920

Extract from a letter from Sean T O'Ceallaigh to Diarmuid O'Hegarty (Dublin)

Grand Hotel, Paris, 16 September 1920

A Dhiarmuid Dhíl,
[matter omitted]

Italy
After leaving Casciana, where I took a three week's cure; which cure and rest the Cabinet will be pleased to hear has done me much good, I went to Florence and Milan calling upon the editors of the important newspapers in both towns. In Florence unfortunately, practically all the journalists of importance were on holidays but my talks with their juniors has I know, done some good. In Milan, which politically is of almost equal importance with Rome and industrially is the most important city in Italy, I had interviews with leading members of the staffs of all the papers of influence. The most important, the 'Corriere della Sera' has not been very friendly to us at any time and I had a bitter argument with Signor Croce one of their chief editors - mostly about the attitude of Ireland during the war. Though my talk did not at the moment seem to have changed Croce's views I must say I have noticed a distinct change in the tone of the articles and even of the news the 'Corriere' has since published about us.

Borsa, the foreign editor of the 'Seccolo' the next paper in importance in Milan, whose acquaintance I made last year in Paris, was at the Lausanne Conference but I saw the editor in Chief, Schinnetti who said he was a Home Ruler. I am nearly sure I brought him the whole road before I left him. He published since a long interview with me with photographs and promised to give careful attention to any material we sent him in future.

Mussolini, editor and proprietor of the 'Popolo d'Italia' is a thoroughgoing friend and supporter of ours due to the influence of Mme. Vivanti, with whom I called upon him. I thanked him on behalf of the Republic for his support which seemed to please him greatly. He promised to give us the fullest support possible at all times provided we supplied him with the necessary material. Since I saw him he has published about six different articles from stuff I have sent him and on each occasion he has printed his articles under big headlines similar to the samples enclosed.

The 'Corriere d'Italia' of Rome continues to publish special articles entirely favourable as does also the 'Tempo' which is now I hear the Roman organ of the present ministry. The Socialist press led by 'Avanti' continues to give us 'favoured nation' treatment generally.

As you are I am sure well aware of the splendid work that Consul Hales has already done in Genoa with all sections of the press there I need only say on that matter that he is continuing and extending his most successful efforts. When I saw him in Genoa a couple of weeks ago I instructed him to have copies of his articles made and sent in future to the Roman and Milanese papers as well as to those in Genoa.

As all the journalists I interviewed in Italy were anxious to be supplied with reliable news direct, I have sent a list of their names etc. to Art O'B.[rien] with a request that copies of the 'Irish Bulletin' be forwarded to them regularly.

Archbishop Mannix
The Cabinet will be interested to know that the Pope himself as well as all ecclesiastical circles in Rome is keenly interested in the treatment of the Archbishop. He follows the case closely and is most anxious to be fully informed on all that happens from day to day. For this reason I have forwarded regularly to Mgr. Cerretti, Papal Sec. of State all suitable cuttings from the Dublin press on the subject. I am informed that the Pope and the Papal Dept. of State have held most rigidly to their strict neutrality in this matter despite pressure of the strongest possible kind from the English Government urging them to interfere with His Grace's liberty of action. While it is true that neither His Holiness nor the State Dept. interfered in any way with Dr. Mannix, I have just learned the truth of the story which gave rise to Reuter's telegrams re interference by the Vatican. My informant says, 'What might have been an awkward situation was threatened by the interference by the Consistorial Congregation. Cardinal de Lai as Sec. and acting head of that Congregation did write to Dr. Mannix a letter advising prudence or moderation. They did the same, Mgr. Cerretti says, to Card. Mercier and others, but they had no business doing it in the case of Dr. Mannix because he is outside their jurisdiction altogether. The Vatican knew nothing of this until the matter appeared in the press and Mgr. Cerretti denounced it very frankly as an unjustifiable but unfortunately not an uncommon instance of interference on the part of an outside congregation.' I personally have no doubt this letter to Dr. Mannix was inspired from the English embassy - Card. de Lai is well known to have strong English leanings and despite the diplomatic condemnation of the Cardinal by Mgr. Cerretti, I am strongly of opinion that the Vatican were not a bit sorry that letter was written to Dr. Mannix as this action helps to keep the Vatican on good terms with both sides - and there's no beating the Vatican State Dept. for diplomacy.

Dr. Hagan, Rector of the Irish College has with the consent of M. Goblet had a translation of the latter's book on Ireland made. It is his intention to have it published this winter. In this connection M. Goblet insisted that the cost of the publishing rights, which he had himself bought from his publisher should be made good to him and also that a small royalty should be paid him on each copy of the book sold. When in Rome I consulted Dr. Hagan on these conditions and he and also Fr. Curran were strongly of opinion that the propaganda value of the book in Italy would more than compensate for the expenditure involved. Dr. Hagan in fact offered to himself guarantee the royalty payment and he said that perhaps he would even be in a position to bear the cost of the buying of the publisher's rights also. The latter however he did not for the moment guarantee. As the book is now almost ready for publication Fr. Curran has written to me to know if the matter can be definitely fixed up without delay. I would therefore ask the Cabinet to give me authority to pay the five hundred francs, the cost of buying out the publisher's rights, Dr. Hagan and Fr. C. guaranteeing the royalty. Dr. Hagan promised that he would try to refund the five hundred francs also but as I have already said this is not guaranteed though I have no doubt but it will be repaid us - and even if it is not we are getting good value in the propaganda in Italy and also in offering thus encouragement to M. Goblet to continue his good work on our behalf.

I understand M. Goblet, if not in Ireland already, will be there soon. It would be well to show him all possible courtesy as he is a most reliable and useful friend.

I expect you have already heard of the loss that befell me in Genoa and which has been the cause of a great deal of worry and annoyance to me since. On the night of August 20th. I arrived in Genoa from Milan; my intention being to cross into France the following morning. I went to the Cloak Room to deposit some heavy luggage and when paying for this left out of my hand for a moment a small despatch-case containing my passport, cheque-books, some dictionaries and a number of other small articles of no great value or importance. Having paid for the luggage I looked for my despatch case but it could not be found though only half a moment had elapsed from the time I left it down on the counter beside me. The clerk in charge of the office said he saw a man who had just deposited a valise take my case with him. He did not stop him believing it might belong to him though it was lying in front of me. I at once reported the robbery to the police and although they had this strong clue they failed to find the case. When all hope from that quarter failed I went to the British Consul and using the Irish form of my name, I after some delay got from him a pass to allow me to travel as far as Paris. It seems strange but it is, I have reason to believe true, that I am not known to the British over here under my Irish name. They have me indexed everywhere as 'Okelly' which turned in very useful this time.

This loss makes things very awkward for me now. For the time being and until I can find a way of getting a new passport it means that I cannot go across the French border.

When in Milan I had a long talk with Mr. Chartres on the subject of propaganda in Europe generally and he and I and also Mme. Vivanti Chartres who was also present, came to the conclusion that the establishment of a propaganda bureau in Switzerland would be of the greatest value to the movement. My view is and I believe it is fully shared by Mr. Chartres, that from Paris the following countries can be worked by a press bureau:- France, Spain, Italy and Belgium with of course their several colonies and dependencies. From Switzerland the following countries could be best worked:- Switzerland, Germany, Poland, Tcheco-Slovakia, Yugo-Slavia, Roumania, Austria etc. As Switzerland is so important both from the political point of view and more so as a centre of propaganda I would strongly urge on the Cabinet to send a capable and experienced man there and I would further suggest that Mr. Chartres is the most suitable man you can get and that you should - if you agree to the principle - ask him to undertake the work there.

I understand that Gavan Duffy has had an interview with Cardinal Mercier on this same subject but no doubt he has already reported the result to you directly.

This I think is about all I have to report for the present;

With warmest regards and best wishes to all,


Do bhuan chara,
Seán T. O'Ceallaigh


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