Posted for: Emily A. Poteat
Joseph McGarrity’s diary from 1939 details his hopes, his work in Irish-republican organizing, and his personal opinions about the happenings of the world in the immediate months preceding the Second World War. This diary gives an important glimpse into the mind of one of the most prolific Irish-American organizers of the period.
Riddled throughout this particular diary of McGarrity’s are numerous newspaper clippings, and through these clippings one discerns what was important, or exciting to McGarrity about the world on the eve of World War II.
First see the clipping in McGarrity’s diary on the page entitled “Front flyleaf, verso clipping over.” This clipping importantly signals that McGarrity was watching the United States’ involvement in Irish peacemaking attempts, and activities.
OPERATIVES OF THE SURETE NATION-
ALE GUARDED THE COLONEL FROM HIS
PARIS APARTMENT TO THE CHERBOURG
MARTIME STATION TODAY. HIS WIFE
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7, COLUMN 3
U.S. ROLE REPORTED
IN IRISH PEACE STEP;
4-WAY PACT HINTED
LONDON, APRIL 8 (U.P.). – THE
DUBLIN SUNDAY TIMES SAID TODAY
THAT NEGOTIATIONS, IN WHICH THE UNIT-
ED STATES IS PARTICIPATING, ARE IN
PROGRESS TO END THE IRISH PARTITION
PROBLEM AND MAY INVOLVE A FOUR-WAY
ACCORDING TO THE NEWSPAPER, THE
TREATY WOULD PROVIDE THAT IN CASE OF
A WAR IN WHICH THE UNITED STATES
WAS INVOLVED, TROOPS COULD BE LANDED
IN IRELAND IN RETURN FOR A GUARANTEE
OF IRELAND’S SAFETY.
THE VISIT OF PRIME MINISTER EAMON
DE VALERA TO THE UNITED STATES NEXT
MONTH WAS EXPECTED TO HAVE SOME
INFLUENCE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS, ACCORD-
ING TO THE NEWSPAPER. IT SAID PRESI-
DENT ROOSEVELT WAS ANXIOUS TO SEE A
FINAL SOLUTION OF THE IRISH PROBLEM
BECAUSE OF THE IMPRESSION IT WOULD
MAKE ON THE IRISH POPULATION IN THE
“ONE REPORT IS THAT IF SUCH A SOLU-
TION COULD BE REACHED FOR A UNITED
IRELAND, MAINTAINING EXTERNAL ASSO-
CIATION WITH THE BRITISH EMPIRE,
UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES SHOULD,
BY THE TREATY, BE GIVEN CERTAIN AC-
COMODATION IN IRELAND IN WARTIME,”
THE NEWSPAPER SAID.
Next, another telling clipping, is one entitled “Dublin Bill Asks Terrorists’ Death,” and is located on “p. 3, clipping over,” of the manuscript. In this clipping the legislation created by Irish president, at the time, Éamon de Valera is featured, which called for the death penalty of persons found guilty of treason.
DUBLIN BILL ASKS
MEASURE BY DE VALERA WOULD
MAKE CAPITAL CRIMES OF ACTS
COVERED BY TREASON ARTICLE
EMBRACES DEEDS ABROAD
REPUBLICAN GROUPS OPEN DRIVE
ON LEGISLATION – CLOSE GUARD
SET FOR KING’S 3-DAY TOUR
WIRELESS TO THE NEW YORK TIMES
DUBLIN, FEB. 20. – THE TEXT OF
THE FIRST OF PRIME MINISTER EAMON
DE VALERA’S NEW LEGISLATIVE MEAS-
URES AGAINST EXTREMISTS, WHICH WAS
ISSUED HERE TONIGHT, PRESCRIBES THE
DEATH PENALTY FOR THOSE FOUND GUILTY
OF TREASON AS DEFINED IN ARTICLE
XXXIX OF THE IRISH CONSTITUTION.
THE BILL FOLLOWS RECENT TERRORISTIC
ACTS IN BRITAIN ASCRIBED TO THE OUT-
LAWED IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY.
THE DEATH PENALTY IS PROVIDED NOT
ONLY FOR THOSE GUILTY OF TREASON.
WITHIN THE STATE, BUT ALSO FOR IRISH
CITIZENS OR PERSONS ORDINARILY RES-
IDENT WITHIN THE STATE WHO COMMIT
TREASON OUTSIDE ITS BORDERS.
ANOTHER SECTION OF THE BILL PRO-
VIDES THAT A PERSON INDICTED FOR
TREASON MUST BE TRIED IN THE SAME
MANNER AS A PERSON INDICTED FOR
MURDER, WHO CANNOT BE CONVICTED
ON THE UNCORROBORATED EVIDENCE OF
ONE WITNESS. THOSE WHO “ENCOUR-
AGE, HARBOR OR COMFORT” PERSONS
COMMITTING TREASON ARE TO AD-
JUDGED GUILTY OF A FELONY AND LIABLE
TO A FINE OF 500 OR PENAL SERVITUDE
NOT EXCEEDING TWENTY YEARS OR IM-
PRISONMENT NOT EXCEEDING TWO YEARS.
UNDER ANOTHER SECTION, PERSONS
WHO, KNOWING THAT TREASON IS ABOUT
TO BE COMMITTED, FAIL TO GIVE THE
INFORMATION TO THE AUTHORITIES WILL
BE ADJUDGED GUILTY OF MISPRISION OF
TREASON. THIS WILL MAKE THEM LIABLE
TO PENAL SERVITUDE UP TO FIVE YEARS
OR IMPRISONMENT NOT TO EXCEED TWO YEARS.
PRIME MINISTER DE VALERA HAS ALSO
INTRODUCED A SECOND MEASURE AGAINST
EXTREMISTS – THE OFFENSES AGAINST
THE STATE BILL – BUT THE TEXT IS NOT
CERTAIN REPUBLICAN ORGANIZATIONS
ARE ALREADY WORKING UP A CAMPAIGN
AGAINST THESE BILLS ON THE GROUND
THAT THEY ARE REACTIONARY LEGISLATION
IN BRITAIN’S INTERESTS. EVEN AMONG
A SECTION OF THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN
FIANNA FAIL PARTY THERE IS AN UN-
EASY FEELING OVER THIS LEGISLATION,
BUT PRIME MINISTER DE VALERA IS CER-
TAIN THAT THE DAIL EIREANN WILL
CARRY IT THROUGH.
AS HE SIGNIFICANTLY OBSERVED IN
THE SENATE RECENTLY, HE WILL ENACT
THESE BILLS WHATEVER THE CONSE-
QUENCES MAY BE. HE FEELS STRONGLY
THAT THE GOVERNMENT MUST ACCEPT
THE IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY’S CHAL-
LENGE TO ITS AUTHORITY OR CEASE TO
Taken together, these two clippings, and the countless others laden throughout McGarrity’s 1939 diary, add a dimension to the manuscript that would otherwise be lacking if they were not included. These clippings act as a type of gauge, in a sense, to what McGarrity was paying most attention to, or even taking issue with as World War II approached. Beyond this, McGarrity’s personality peaks through from these clippings, as McGarrity wrote commentary on the pages that he featured the clippings on. In this commentary one finds the most candid iterations of McGarrity that I have encountered in his different diaries.
Emily Poteat is a graduate assistant in Irish Studies and Falvey Memorial Library’s Distinctive Collections and Digital Engagement Department, and a graduate student in the History Department.
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