No. 100 NAI Madrid Embassy CON 4/7/22 No. 2
Madrid, 27 December 1939
Frank RYAN. Your 244/8B
I left for Burgos at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 24th December, accompanied by Fr. Mulrean;1 we reached the Prison at 1.30 and remained there till 3.30, arriving back in Madrid at 9 p.m. The road from Burgos to the Prison, about 3 miles, is in shockingly bad condition, and had to be covered at snail-pace.
There were several hundred women outside the prison entrance; we squeezed our way through them and gained admission; leaving Fr. Mulrean with the Director, I was accompanied by a sub-warder to the chief-warder's office; whilst waiting for Ryan, the sub-warder told me that numerous cards had come addressed to him and he was much impressed by this; they heaped up apparently to about nine inches in height; and, referring to Ryan, the sub-warder remarked – 'Es un caballero'! (He's a gentleman!).
FRANK RYAN'S SENTENCE. Further to my telegram of 21st2 and my minute of 23rd December,3 I was given the following information on 24th December by Frank Ryan, to whom I showed a copy of his sentence, as translated by me.
Frank Ryan's own statement will of course not be accepted as disproof of alleged 'proved facts'; any corroboration which can be obtained by you, say from the examination of newspaper files, should be of value, and might accelerate a pardon, if not revision of the sentence.
Another point is that Ryan refused to sign the confession attributed to him, because of mistakes therein; there had been an interrogation lasting 9 hours; it was inevitable that the interpreter should make some mistakes; the interpreter tried to explain this to the presiding Judge, who would not listen to him and lost his temper, whilst Ryan announced his willingness to put his signature to a true declaration. The fact is, then, that the confession is not signed by him and is not acknowledged by him as being exact.
During the trial, he was accused of having done propaganda work, during his convalescence, in London, Liverpool and Glasgow – although you will note that he was sentenced for propagandist activities only in Ireland; however, Ryan says that he paid no visit at all to Liverpool or Glasgow, and that he paid only one visit to London 'for a day or two', and did not act as a propagandist on that occasion.
I have no doubt that you are acting on the suggestion made in my telegram. Once I have whatever statement you may be able to send me, I will again see Champourcin, with whom I discussed this case from 7 till 9 p.m. on 26th December; he happens to be a friend of the General Director of Prisons, whose name (Colonel Maxim Cuervo) Ryan asked me particularly to note, and who may perhaps accede to our wishes in regard to delivery of correspondence &c.
I saw Beigbeder on 26th December but he had no fresh news to give me about Ryan's case; his chef de cabinet, Juan de las Harcehas (son of the former Under-Secretary) was Consul in Palestine till last July and had heard much there about Ryan from a friend of his, a Franciscan priest at Gethsemane,4 who had been wounded in 1916 and who subsequently entered holy orders.
[signed] L.H. Kerney
The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.
The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....