No. 47 NAI DFA Secretary's Files A20/3

Memorandum from Leopold H. Kerney to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

San Sebastian, 5 October 1939

Frank RYAN. Your 244/8A

I called at Burgos Prison on Monday morning, 25th September, and spent about half an hour in conversation with Frank Ryan; the Director informed me that the missing parcel of clothes had arrived and that Ryan had written thanking me; the books, however, were lying in the Director's office, pending a reply from Madrid to Ryan's written request to be allowed to have these, this being in accordance with the requirements of prison regulations; the parcel of foodstuffs left by the Duchess of Tetuan, at my request, on Wednesday evening 20th September, was also being given to him, though Ryan told me that he had not yet seen it.

I left 150 pesetas with the Director for Ryan and obtained the usual receipt.

Ryan looked if anything better than last time; he was as bright as usual and assured me that he was feeling well and hardly bothered at all with his heart; he said the prison doctor was being changed, and of course it has to be seen what the new doctor will be like. Ryan showed no signs at all of impatience and he accepts his position philosophically, although he confessed that it cast a shadow over him now and again when he reflected on the fact that as time passed his parents were becoming more aged but he was not worrying at all about himself. I told him briefly how matters stood and that we had now to wait until we could get a decision from the very top; this brought about a reference to Fusset whom Ryan knew to have been very ill-disposed towards him. (N.B. Fusset is a close friend of Franco and was with him all through Franco's recent triumphal tour in Galicia).

He was aware of events in the outer world, his source of information being a privileged fellow-prisoner of high standing.

He asked me to send him foodstuffs only once a month so as to be less of a charge on his friends; he particularly asked that his sister should approach Peadar O'Donnell1 as he did not think it right that he should be a cause of expense to his family, whom he had not consulted before going to Spain. Spanish food would be good enough, 'anything good enough for a horse', he said, but condensed milk (sweetened) was the most desirable thing, even if nothing else could be got; unfortunately, condensed milk is unobtainable in Spain, and I fear it will be soon impossible for me to get any in France.

He was eager to have news of his two brothers who are doctors in England and to know how they are faring under present circumstances.

The visit of the Duchess of Tetuan had pleased him greatly and had been a big surprise; he enjoyed his talk with her.

I told him that I would call again when on my way to reopen the Madrid Legation.

[signed] L.H. Kerney

1 Peadar O'Donnell (1893-1986), Irish left-wing republican and author; volunteered with Frank Ryan to fight with the International Brigades in Spain.

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