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Green Voices of the Past: Final Reflections

Posted for: Emily Alesia Poteat

The act of transcribing manuscripts can transport you back in history and allow you to rediscover voices lost or ignored in the historical record. My graduate assistantship with Villanova University’s Irish Studies Department and Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections has done just that. Throughout my time transcribing Irish American historical manuscripts in Villanova’s collection, I was confronted with a diverse set of experiences and distant voices from unique figures of the past.

Stark and defiant voices emerged in manuscripts from figures like Joseph McGarrity, who sought to make real change in their own time. McGarrity was born on March 28, 1874, and died on September 04, 1940. It is through his distinctive scrawling penmanship, McGarrity’s voice rose from the pages, and he detailed his hopes, his organizing for the Irish republican cause, and his personal opinions about the happenings of the world on the eve of World War II. Most riveting, however, was the discovery that McGarrity directly sought to partner with Nazi Germany to find support for the Irish republican cause. As Joseph McGarrity’s 1939 diary demonstrated the reach of Irish American organizing in the twentieth century. As, the purpose of aligning with Germany was to force the United Kingdom to remove its forces from Northern Ireland, and to allow a united and independent Ireland. Brute force was seen as the best way to do this by McGarrity, as he he sought, from an alliance with Nazi Germany, “technicians…particularly chemical experts,” to “ask for submarine experts to be trained,” and most tellingly with his intentions “that sufficient war stuffs be supplied in the line of war material for a major engagement in England.” From McGarrity’s rhetoric, he and he Irish republican allies sought to plan a major military effort and armed engagements with England during the onset of World War II.

Photograph, Joseph McGarrity, standing with gloves, n.d.

Also deepening the Irish American and German connection, The Irish American Club’s connection to the Clan-na-Gael was most revelatory, as this connection was largely undiscovered. The Clan-na-Gael formed in 1867 in New York as the successor of the Fenian Brotherhood, and was a secret Irish Republican society. As the American sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Clan-na-Gael was dedicated to supporting the formation of an independent and democratic republic in Ireland through the use of force. With Irish republican beliefs deeply embedded into the organization, the Clan-na-Gael was active in assisting the Irish Republican Brotherhood in achieving an independent Ireland. Because of this deep support of Irish independence, the Clan-na-Gael was the single largest financial support of the Easter rising, as well as the Irish War of Independence. In the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club, the way in which Irish Americans, in the Irish American Club, actively engaged in support of the German war effort came to light, and offered new insight into ways Irish Americans engaged in Irish republicanism during the early twentieth century. Through advocacy work and monetary support, the Irish American Club attempted to support the German war effort in World War I. Most distinguishing, however, was not this fact alone, it was the fact that the Irish American Club consistently referred to themselves as the Clan-na-Gael.

Advertisement, “Grosse Massen-Demonstration unter den Asupicien des Irish-American Club,” 1916.

By delving into the archive forgotten connections that largely reorient our understandings of history are possible. For instance, just by connecting Irish Americans to Germans during the world wars, these sources offer new opportunities for research into transatlantic history, as well as into understanding the reach of Irish American organizing. If we continue to ask new questions of archival sources, we can continue to diversify the historical record with underrepresented voices from the past. While these sources can not tell us everything about certain individuals, they offer a chance to preserve the voice and experiences in the historical record.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: An Introduction to 19th Century Irish American Voices from the Friendly Sons and Daughters of Saint Patrick

Posted for: Emily A. Poteat

The Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, now known as the Friendly Sons and Daughters of St. Patrick, emerged in the immediate years before the American Revolution, 1771. Founded in Philadelphia on St. Patrick’s Day of 1771, the organization’s founding tenants were to aid immigrants from Ireland. In the present day, the organization also seeks to focus on ties between the United States and Ireland, as well as sponsors a variety of charitable scholarships, activities, as well as educational endowments.

Currently I am transcribing the minute book of the organization, which extends from 1813 to 1852. Intriguingly, the beginning of the manuscript is not handwritten, rather, it was a printed by a prominent Philadelphia printer named John Bioren, who was the co-proprietor of Mountford, Bioren and Company. Most striking in this particular manuscript, however, is the sheer number of prominent historical figures, especially founding fathers, involved in the American Revolution that were founding members of the organization. Riddled throughout the first few pages of this manuscript are the names of those who created, and facilitated, the charity and aid to Irish immigrants to the United States that landed in Philadelphia.

p. 3, “Rules Minutes &c. of the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, 1813-1852.” Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for the Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, 1813.

Thomas McKean is the first man listed as amongst the founding members of the organization. McKean was a founding father of the United States, and politician that was born to Irish parents in 1734. Coming to prominence during the American Revolution, McKean was the Delaware delegate to the Continental Congress, at which he signed the Continental Association, Articles of Confederation, as well as the Declaration of Independence. Beyond this, McKean is also noteworthy for his place in Pennsylvania’s history, as McKean served as the chief justice to Pennsylvania, and was the governor of Pennsylvania as well.

Also appearing in the manuscript is Thomas Barclay, an Irish American who came to international political prominence, is also amongst the founding members of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. Barclay, initially a Philadelphian merchant, was integral to international relations for the United States in the aftermath of the American revolution. Importantly, Barclay was the first U.S. consul in France, and later George Washington appointed Barclay the U.S. consul in Morocco in 1791. This appointment came following Barclay’s success at negotiating the first treaty between the United States and Morocco in 1786.

Jared Ingersoll is also amongst those who are listed as founding members of the organization. Ingersoll, was a founding father of the United States, and was a delegate to the Continental Congress, as well as signed the United States constitution. Further, Ingersoll was important to Pennsylvania’s history, as he served as the state’s attorney general from 1791 to 1800, and then from 1811 to 1816. In addition to this, Ingersoll was the United States attorney for Pennsylvania, as well as the Philadelphia city solicitor. In further connection to his career as a lawyer, Ingersoll argued Chisholm v. Georgia, and Hylton v. United States, which were two of the first cases to be argued before the United States Supreme Court.

“Masthead image, The Society of The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick for The Relief of Emigrants from Ireland.” The Society of The Friendly Sons and Daughters of St. Patrick for The Relief of Emigrants from Ireland, published digitally 2017.

These three men are only a few of many who appear in this minute book, and represent just a few of many voices to arise from the manuscript’s pages. Pertinently to the historical record, this minute book gives a glimpse into the machinations of the elite Irish American class of the newly formed United States, as well as their efforts to support new Irish immigrants to the United States. In doing so, this manuscript provides evidence of understandings of class and societal rank in the immediate aftermath of the American Revolution as well. Furthermore, this manuscript allows a deeper understanding of Irish American organizing during the 19th century, and provides a peek into what went into maintaining a cohesive organizing effort during the time period as well.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: Two Newspaper Clippings from Joseph McGarrity’s WWII Diary

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.

front flyleaf, verso clipping over, “Diary, Joseph McGarrity, 1939.” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

SLOVAKIA
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
BRITISH-AMERICAN-NORTHER IRELAND-
EIRE AGREEMENT.
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
UNITED STATES.
“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.

p. 3, clipping over, “Diary, Joseph McGarrity, 1939.” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

DUBLIN BILL ASKS
TERRORISTS’ DEA

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
AVAILABLE YET.
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
GOVERN.

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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Green Voices of the Past: Joseph McGarrity and the 1939 British Royal Visit to the United States

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

Beginning on June 07, 1939 King George VI, and his wife Queen Elizabeth embarked on the first royal visit to the United States that would endure until June 12, 1939. Joseph McGarrity’s 1939 diary offers intriguing insight into the visit through the lens of an American Irish Republican.

p. 93 clipping unfolded back, “Diary, Joseph McGarrity, 1939.” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

Preceding the advent of the tour, there was much controversy surrounding the mere possibility of the tour, and the newspaper clippings included in McGarrity’s diary offer immense evidence of this. As a newspaper article titled “Britain Fears War” alluded to, many people were questioning in April 1939 if King George VI and Queen Elizabeth should be allowed to go on the visit at all because of the rising fears of an imminent breakout of international war (p. 15, clipping 4). There was a clear division of opinion within both the British cabinet as well as within the royal household; further, this primarily was due to the concern that if war broke out while the British royals were in the United States, the British government feared if they could return home from the tour (p. 15, clipping 4).

Despite these concerns, the tour went ahead, and the first traces of the decision for the tour to go ahead, is evident through the eyes of Joseph McGarrity in his 1939 diary. For, on May 23, 1939, McGarrity wrote “the King + Queen are to visit the President at Washington what Gall they have (p. 50). From this clear disdain, it is clear that McGarrity found the royal visit to not only inappropriate, but also inflammatory with the Irish question still looming large. With his characteristic vitriol towards Britain and the British empire, McGarrity chronicles what he considers to be the most important aspects of the royal visit in his diary.

The royal visit was inflammatory to McGarrity’s immense hatred toward the British monarchy, and his reaction to King George VI and Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Irish exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the newspaper clipping, found in McGarrity’s diary, entitled “Royal Guests Visit the Irish Exhibit” King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are depicted as maintaining respectfulness and politeness while perusing the exhibit. As the “Queen gave special attention to an exhibit showing the activities for improvement of housing and hospital facilities,” and she commented that the exhibit was “very colorful and pleasant” (p. 93, clipping back). Furthermore, this was the first stop of the royal visit, and according to McGarrity the royal walk at the World’s Fair demonstrated that the visit represented “Fake freedom” and “Fake Patriots” on the part of the American government for entertaining the British royals (p. 92). McGarrity inherently thought that the United States should not entertain the British royals, as they represented a country maintaining a hold on a country searching for freedom. Evidence of this is apparent with McGarrity maintaining “gradually we have pulled the veil from the Faik [sic] Freedom that Ireland is supposed to Have and leave Her masked as still the Pawn of England (p. 92). For McGarrity believed that Roosevelt should side with the Irish, and support an independence movement that he equated with the American revolution.

. 92, “Diary, Joseph McGarrity, 1939.” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

Further, it is clear that the Irish exhibit at the 1939 New York World’s Fair was a key part of the royal visit. As the reactions of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth are covered in intricate detail. For instance the reporter wrote, “the Queen paused briefly and asked John M. Conway…for an explanation…She made no comment, however, when he showed her the affixed text of the proclamation of the Irish Republic” (p. 93, clipping back). From the brief description of the Queen’s reaction to symbolism concerning Irish republicanism, it is clear that she was aware that the visit had potential to stir up emotions and criticism. Further, all descriptions of the king and queen on the visit to the Irish exhibit allude to a carefully staged, and self-monitored experience for the royals.

As a whole, McGarrity’s short inclusion of the 1939 royal visit offers a deeper understanding of McGarrity, as understanding what angered him hints at what he found most important. This episode in McGarrity’s diary demonstrates his deep criticism of not only Roosevelt, but also the actions and intentions of the royal family as well. For an Irish American, and Irish republican, McGarrity viewed the first visit of the royal family to the United States with deep suspicion of the intentions of the British for visiting, but also with deep fury.

——————–
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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Green Voices of the Past: Franklin D. Roosevelt through the Eyes of Joseph McGarrity

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

From September 1938 to December 1939, Joseph McGarrity kept a number of diaries; however, this particular diary is in an old “Composition” notebook. Despite its humble appearance, this diary provides a riveting glimpse into the machinations of McGarrity concerning the onset of World War II, and McGarrity’s perceptions of the most prolific politicians of that period. Touched upon most in this particular diary, are McGarrity’s thoughts surrounding President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s visitors, and policies at the onset of World War II.

p. 20, Diary, “Diary, “Compositions” Joseph McGarrity, September 22, 1938 – November 1939.” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

For McGarrity, Roosevelt was an obstacle standing in the way of American support for a fully united and independent Ireland. Because of this, much of McGarrity’s rhetoric concerning Roosevelt is not only skeptical, but at times McGarrity’s rhetoric becomes vitriolic. Attracting the most scorn from McGarrity was Roosevelt’s meeting with Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, whom McGarrity refers to as “Lord Beverbrook [sic]” (p. 20). To McGarrity, “Lord Beverbrook [sic]” is an “English official propagandist,” as he purchased quite a few American newspapers and McGarrity believed that the papers became too geared towards supporting England soon after (p. 20). Inherently, this is problematic for McGarrity, as it represented a turn for him towards a more sympathetic view of the British. In this regard, McGarrity describes Aitken’s role in the American press as one of the “tools of Americas [sic] most daingerous [sic] ‘Friend.” Because Roosevelt dined with Aitken, McGarrity viewed him as being too close and too willing to work with the British. This view is evident, as McGarrity viewed Roosevelt’s dinner with Aitken, as Roosevelt aligning the United States too closely with the United Kingdom. Inherently this was a major issue for McGarrity, as he, as an Irish republican, saw England as an imperial aggressor that was keeping Ireland from unification and independence. Most vitriolic in his assessment of Roosevelt, McGarrity on page 21 questions “will we ever get another such President as Washington who warned us for all future time aginst [sic] foreign entanglements,” and more pertinently McGarrity wondered “How can the United States prosper all the time on the auction block for England to buy” (p. 21). From this, McGarrity was not only questioning the efficacy of the United States catering to England when they were claiming to be neutral, but also was highly skeptical of Roosevelt’s integrity when it came to U.S. foreign policy. Moreover, McGarrity did not view Roosevelt as forming his policies on his own accord, instead McGarrity viewed Roosevelt as a puppet of the English government.

In equating Roosevelt with England’s war objectives, McGarrity often portrayed Roosevelt as lacking agency, and merely a tool utilized by England. Most clearly McGarrity does this by alluding to a “Roosevelt Promise,” or Roosevelt ignoring neutrality to work directly with England. With this rhetoric in mind, McGarrity on page 24 directly states “I wonder if England has a Roosevelt Promise to put America in the war on Her side?” (p. 24). In equating Roosevelt with McGarrity’s enemy, England, McGarrity does show partiality towards the Axis powers, and often times show outright support for Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin. In doing so, McGarrity on page 24 details that “Hitler and Stalin I hope are very buisy [sic] preparing”.

p.1, Letter, “Letter, To: “To the President of the United States We Appeal” From: [Irish Race?, 1939?].” McGarrity Papers, 1939.

McGarrity’s machinations about Roosevelt, and other key figures of the World War II era are important, as they demonstrate the way that McGarrity was understanding the events that were happening in the world around him. Further, these ideas surrounding Roosevelt represent a concerted shift from the way that McGarrity perceived Roosevelt in 1936, as in McGarrity’s 1936 diary, McGarrity wrote “I thank and I pray that Roosevelt gets elected a man of great Heart and courage + Brain” (p. 47)). By further exploring these diaries, one will be able to discern when, and why, McGarrity’s perception of Roosevelt changed, and what key factors pushed McGarrity from staunch support to strong dislike.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: Joseph McGarrity, Irish Republicanism, and Irish Organizing in the Months before World War II

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

As a person with a passion for the history of World War II, it is needless to say I was intrigued at the prospect of transcribing Joseph McGarrity’s diary from 1939. Through his distinctive scrawling handwriting, McGarrity details his hopes, his Irish-republican organizing, and his personal opinions about the happenings of the world in the immediate months preceding the Second World War.

Photograph, Joseph McGarrity, standing with gloves, n.d.

Beyond this, McGarrity’s diary is immensely riveting in nature. Within just the first few pages, one is teleported into one of the Irish-republican effort’s most prolific minds, as he charts and plans how the Irish republican cause could benefit from an alliance with the Third Reich. On page ten of the manuscript McGarrity directly states that he sought, from an alliance with Nazi Germany, “technicians…particularly chemical experts,” to “ask for submarine experts to be trained,” and most tellingly with his intentions “that sufficient war stuffs be supplied in the line of war material for a major engagement in England.” As evidenced by McGarrity’s rhetoric, McGarrity and his Irish republican compatriots were planning for a major military effort and armed engagements on mainland England in the months preceding World War II. This is significant, as from my experience with McGarrity’s personal manuscripts, this is the first time he directly alluded to his involvement in arms procurement for the sole purpose of armed warfare with England. Furthermore, McGarrity’s diary entry directly points to a major Irish-republican effort to align itself with Hitler’s Nazi Germany right before World War II.

p. 10, Diary, “Diary, Joseph McGarrity, 1939,” Joseph McGarrity, 1939.

Most pertinently, McGarrity’s diary points to an intentional effort of Irish Republicans to organize armed engagement beyond anonymous bombings in England, which McGarrity chronicles in his diary as well. The purpose of this alignment with Germany in 1939 for McGarrity, was to force England to remove its forces from Northern Ireland and to allow both Ireland and Northern Ireland to unite into a single republican nation. If this were to occur, McGarrity believed that recognition by other nations was critical to the success of a completely independent and united Ireland, as he professes on page ten “since the freedom of Ireland would mean the freedom of the seas early Recognition by German Italy + [sic] Spain and as many of the Government as Germany and Her Allies can influence should come as early a date as possible.” Clearly, McGarrity saw an alliance with Nazi Germany as a clear way to push forward the effort to unite the Ireland and Northern Ireland. Distinctively, further corroborating McGarrity’s intention is his statement on page ten, “in case war supplies must be landed in England so that an Irish Republican force can get into action there on a big scale I feel sure they would be joined by many thousands of Irish once operations would begin in England.”

Expounding on McGarrity’s idea that the Irish Republican cause would benefit through an alliance with Germany, McGarrity, throughout his diary is incredibly critical of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, his cabinet, and the British parliament. Evidence for this lies in McGarrity’s numerous newspaper clippings he includes in his diary, that often only include critical assessments of the British government or critical views surrounding Roosevelt’s intentions towards the Irish cause.

As a whole, McGarrity’s 1939 diary offers important insight into the way Irish Americans, and Irish republicans like Joseph McGarrity, sought to align themselves, as well as sought to continue the Irish republican cause in the immediate months before the Second World War.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: Joseph McGarrity’s last diary

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

p. 33, Diary, “Decker’s Special 200 pages,” Joseph McGarrity, 1940.

From his unique handwriting, to his strong and decisive beliefs, Joseph McGarrity has been one of the most engaging individuals I have encountered in my work thus far. McGarrity was born on March 28, 1874 and lived until September 04, 1940, and lived a life defined by work towards a unified and independent Ireland. As an Irish-American political activist, McGarrity strove to spread Irish republican values through his work in organizations like the Clan-na-Gael. McGarrity’s 1940 diary, gives a glimpse into what was defining McGarrity’s concerns and political activism during the final years of his life. Filled with newspaper clippings, and personal anecdotes, McGarrity’s diary allows a deeper insight into McGarrity as a person, and how hie viewed England in the age of World War II, and the Irish Civil War.

While steadfastly rooting against England in World War II, McGarrity was perturbed and continually concerned with justice for Irish republicans battling for a unified and independent Ireland. This is most evident in McGarrity’s diary, as primarily in this manuscript McGarrity’s political activism is centered on having the sentences of two Irish Republican Army members commuted. James Richards and Peter Barnes, were sentenced to death following their alleged role in a bombing in Coventry in 1939. Following this sentence, McGarrity immediately began advocacy work to have the sentence commuted, as McGarrity believed the trial to have been carried out in an unjust manner; moreover, McGarrity viewed both Richards and Barnes as prisoners of war in the ongoing Irish Civil War.

From McGarrity’s diary, both his work to commute the executions, and beliefs towards the executions of Barnes and Richards is illuminated. The first mention of this is on page 12 of the manuscript, where McGarrity writes on the resolution he and James P McGranery, a congressman, were working to have presented to congress. McGarrity, in going into greater detail on the resolution on the commutation of the sentence for Richards and Barnes wrote in an entry on January 21, 1940 wrote, “conferred with James P. McGranery regarding resolution in protest of the execution now proposed by England of two Irish Prisoners of war He McGranery hopes to have resolution offered on floor of Congress.”

As the diary progresses, McGarrity’s work does come to fruition, as the resolution he and McGranery wrote was taken up by another congressman, Thomas A. Flaherty, who agreed to present the resolution to congress. McGarrity and McGranery’s resolution called for the ambassador of the United States to the United Kingdom to petition the English government to commute the death sentences of Barnes and Richards. This resolution gained media attention, and McGarrity featured the clippings of the resolution in his diary, one clipping was entitled “Bill Asks Roosevelt To Aid I.R.A. Men.”

As time passes in McGarrity’s diary, McGarrity’s passion towards his work for the commutation of the two IRA members becomes clearer. Impassioned prayers are laden throughout the manuscript. For example, in an entry on January 30, 1940, McGarrity passionately proclaimed in his diary “God I thank thou for thy Devine [sic] Help. Smite of Smite this enemy of Ireland and of right.” Further exemplifying the tendency to include prayers in his diary, McGarrity upon writing on the decision of England to continue with the executions despite the pushback that his resolution generated wrote, “God sustain our boys who are to die tomorrow for Ireland may retaliation be swift on part of I.R.A.”

While McGarrity’s advocacy and resolution for the Barnes and Richards did not result in a commutation of their sentences, this episode in McGarrity’s diary illuminates both McGarrity’s dedication to Irish republican ideals, and his commitment to aiding those who were working towards the same goal. From showing his steadfast commitment against England and for Ireland, as well as more emotion in his impassioned moments of prayer, McGarrity’s 1940 diary is an excellent source for better understanding McGarrity as an advocate, but also as an individual. Moreover, this diary gives a deep insight into what was of the most pressing concern to McGarrity near the end of his life.

Photograph, “The Late Joseph McGarrity,” n.d.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: The German and Irish Connection during World War I

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand on June 28, 1914 ignited international political tensions, and catapulted the world into World War I a month later. World War I was fraught with multiple layers of political significance for countries and individuals across the world. For the Irish American Club, who called themselves the Clan-na-Gael, the Great War presented a way for Irish Americans to directly work against the interests of the British, and towards forming political ties to support the cause of Irish Independence. In the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club, the way in which Irish Americans, in the Irish American Club, actively engaged in support of the German war effort comes to light, and offers new insight into ways Irish Americans engaged in Irish republicanism during the early twentieth century.

Seemingly the disdain and urgency to work against British interests in World War I emerged soon after the onset of the conflict. Just short of two months after the beginning of World War I, on September 20, 1914, the Irish American Club in their meeting minutes for that day’s meeting discuss ways to work against Irish people fighting for the English in the war. This is clear with the statement “A motion was passed that a re-union [sic] be called for next Sunday night to pass resolutions condemning the action of Redmond and those so called Irish leaders in urging the Irish people to join the English army to fight against Germany” (p. 308). With this strong assertion against Irishmen fighting for the English in World War I, it is clear that the Irish Americans were conflating support of the English with anti-republicanism, as this war was viewed by the Irish American Club as serving the interests of the British. Because of this understanding of the First World War, the Irish American Club worked earnestly to support the opposing side of the war, the Germans.

The Irish American Club’s support of the German war effort emerges from the pages of the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the club, in the form of both advocacy work and monetary support. For, on page 392 of the minute book, in an entry of meeting minutes from March 21, 1915, the club donated seven hundred dollars to the German and Austrian Red Cross. This is evident with the statement “Bro McGarrity produced a receipt from the German + Austrian Consuls for $70000…for the German + Austrian Red Cross” (p.392). Clearly with a monetary contribution of that value, the Irish American Club were staking their claim and attempting to make ties with the Germans in working against the British war effort. Further denoting this tie between the Irish Americans and the German war effort, “a letter of thanks from the German Ambassador at Washington thanking Clan Na Gael for” the donation of money to the German and Austrian Red Cross was delivered to the Irish American Club (p. 392). In addition to their monetary support, the Irish American Club also held demonstrations in connection with German-American societies in support of American neutrality in the war.

The Gaelic American v. 12, Philadelphia, May 15, 1915

This tie between Germany and the Clan-na-Gael, under the name of the Irish American Club, is interesting to note, as it connects to other attempts to forge alliances between the Irish and the Germans. Prior to the Easter Rising, Clan-na-Gael representatives requested support from the German ambassador in the United States as early as 1914. With this information in mind, the actions of the Irish American Club in supporting the German war effort could have been in the hopes of gaining more definite support for their own revolution against England. As a whole, the actions of the Irish American Club in their support for Germany in World War I give further insight into the activities twentieth century Irish American organizations took in working towards their goal of Irish independence.

Advertisement, “Grosse Massen-Demonstration unter den Asupicien des Irish-American Club,” 1916.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: Linking the Irish American Club to the Clan-na-Gael

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

The Irish American Club was an organization dedicated to organizing and advocating for issues pertinent to the Irish republican cause. Throughout the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club, one can see the devotion to the Irish republicanism and Irish independence laden throughout its pages. However, also newly emerging from the Irish American Club’s minute book is new evidence that there were deep links between the Irish American Club and the Clan-na-Gael.

The Clan-na-Gael Journal, v. 33, Philadelphia, February 8, 1908

The Clan-na-Gael formed in 1867 in New York as the successor of the Fenian Brotherhood, and was a secret Irish Republican society. As the American sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Clan-na-Gael was dedicated to supporting the formation of an independent and democratic republic in Ireland through the use of force. With Irish republican beliefs deeply embedded into the organization, the Clan-na-Gael was active in assisting the Irish Republican Brotherhood in achieving an independent Ireland. Because of this deep support of Irish independence, the Clan-na-Gael was the single largest financial support of the Easter rising, as well as the Irish War of Independence.

With similar ideological frameworks comprising their organizations, one would guess that the Irish American Club and the Clan-na-Gael engaged with one another to work towards Irish independence; however, the deep ties between the two organizations have been illuminated throughout the text of the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club. First, early on in the minute book the link between the two organizations is vague, with the recording secretary mentioning that the Irish American Club would hold excursions or entertainments “under the auspices of the Clan-na-Gael.” However, with reading deeper into the minute book a deeper links between the two organizations emerges. First, the Irish American Club directly paid some bills for the Clan-na-Gael. For instance, on page 109 of the minute book it is stated “bill for $3.75 for printing Clan-na-Gael ball account ordered paid.” This is interesting because this marks a direct financial line between both organizations. Further, deepening the tie between the two organizations was a communication received by the Irish American Club in the meeting held on November 20, 1898, located on page 129 in the minute book. In this communication, it is recorded by the recording secretary of the Irish American Club that the organization received a communication “from the Academy of Music inquiring if the Clan-na-Gael would want that hall for the 3d of March 1899.” By sending a letter to the Irish American Club, seeking their authority in making arrangements for the Clan-na-Gael, for an event the question of how interconnected the two organizations were becomes apparent. It would seem at the very least, the Irish American Club, like the Friends of Irish Freedom were affiliates of the Clan-na-Gael.

p. 73, Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club

However, with the direct reference to the Irish American Club as the Clan-na-Gael it is worth considering if the tie was deeper than an affiliation. In the meeting of the Irish American Club on page 129, the Irish American Club also received another communication, and this communication once again directly equated the Irish American Club to the Clan-na-Gael. For, the recording secretary in the minute book wrote, “the second communication was a letter from Mr. M. P. Moroney asking for the appointment of a new committee from the Clan-na-Gael to meet a committee from the Nationalists to consider the question of a joint celebration of Emmets [sic] birth.” Here, the Irish American Club is directly referred to as the Clan-na-Gael, and an individual is seeking the Irish American Club, under the name of the Clan-na-Gael to meet to arrange a celebration for the Irish republican martyr Robert Emmet. This is not the only reference of the Irish American Club as the Clan-na-Gael in the minute book. On page 138, Brother Dillon, a member of the Irish American Club sought the authority of the Irish American Club’s District Officer to form a company of the Clan-na-Gael Guards. With this statement the militant nature of the movement is evident, but also the link deepened, as a senior member of the Irish American Club was consulted in forming a branch of the Clan-na-Gael’s military operations. Moreover, deeper links between the two organizations are present on page 319 of the manuscript with the Irish American Club recording themselves as the Clan-na-Gael in their minute book in discussion of a lawsuit they were involved in. It is written on page 319, “regularily [sic] moved + sec the Clan na Gael Organization appeal the case of Sherin to the higher courts and fight the case to a finish in the highest courts.”

From the evidence in the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club, compelling evidence is emerging for looking at the Irish American Club as directly tied to the Clan-na-Gael. While further research is warranted for determining if the Irish American Club was actually a part of the Clan-na-Gael, the minute book of the Irish American Club’s Board of Directors offers insight into the ties between Irish-American organizations seeking to work towards Irish independence in the early twentieth century.

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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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Green Voices of the Past: The Irish American Club and the Second Boer War

Posted for: Emily Poteat.

Presently, I am working through the Minute Book of the Board of Officers for the Irish American Club, an organization dedicated to organizing and advocating for issues pertinent to the Irish republican cause. Emerging from the minute book are details about how the Irish American Club viewed the Second Boer War as an opportunity to protest British imperialism, through a pro-Boer stance. The discussions on the Second Boer War in the Minute Book of the Board of Officers of the Irish American Club offer an interesting insight as to how Irish Americans viewed British imperialism and attempted to act against it during the early twentieth century.

Lasting from October 11, 1899 to May 31, 1902, the Second Boer War was a conflict between the United Kingdom and the two independent Boer states, the Orange Free State and the South African Republic. Other names for the war include, the Boer War, the Anglo-Boer War, and the South-African War. However, the war erupted following the discovery of both gold and diamonds in the Boer states, and with the question of who would control the Witwatersrand gold mines. In the early phases of the war, Boer attacks proved successful against the British; however, after initial success British reinforcements reversed those successes. Despite this, the war continued for several years, as the Boer forces utilized guerilla warfare against the British. The guerilla warfare tactics of the Boer states were counteracted with a scorched earth policy on the part of the British that brought the war to an end. With the Treaty of Vereeniging, which was signed on May 31, 1902, the Second Boer War came to an end. As a result, the South African Republic and the Orange Free State were no longer independent republics and were incorporated into the British empire.

Initially in the minute book, the Second Boer War appears as a way to support a war against British imperialism. As the months went by in the meeting book, “pro-Boer sentiment and meetings continued to occur, and culminated on page 184 when the organization discussed whether or not take action to protest the war. The organization expressed this by questioning “the advisability of District 12 taking action along the lines suggested by Mr. Van Ness of New York, protesting against the sale of horses to the British Government for us in South Africa against the Boer Republic.”

Further, the organization took great pride in a visit from Major John MacBride, spelled in the minute book as “McBride.” For, it is stated in the minute book on pages 186 and 187, “the object of the meeting was to make arrangements for a reception to Major McBride of the Transvaal Irish Brigade, who had done more to uphold the name of the Irish race than any other man during the past century.” John MacBride was an Irish leader and supporter of the Irish Republican movements. Moreover, MacBride was instrumental to Irish involvement in the Second Boer War, as he was responsible for the organization of the Transvaal Irish Brigade. The Transvaal Irish Brigade, also known as the Irish Transvaal Brigade, or the “Wreckers Corps,” consisted of Irish and Irish-American miners who lived in Transvaal and were willing to fight against the British forces in the Second Boer War. Furthermore, the Transvaal Irish Brigade operated from September 1899 to September 1900, and participated in approximately twenty engagements. In those twenty engagements, eighteen men were killed and seventy were wounded.

Page 187

As a whole, the discussion of the Second Boer War by the Irish American Clubs gives valuable insight as to how Irish Americans viewed Britain’s imperial wars as another means to work against the British, and aid in the overthrow of British rule in other parts of the world. Inherently it can be sensed from this that the Irish Americans viewed it as their duty to not only support British independence, but also the independence of nations also in the British empire.


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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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Last Modified: September 29, 2021