Autograph letter from Liam Mellows, sent from the United States to his brother Barney;
4 November 1917
|Main Creator:||Mellows, Liam|
In the aftermath of the Easter Rising of 1916, Liam Mellows went on the run before being smuggled to England and securing a passage to the United States, where he worked for a time at John Devoy's "Gaelic American". He took an active interest in Irish-American politics and often mixed in what were considered "Socialist circles". He was arrested in New York in October 1917 and was charged with using false papers to acquire a seaman's certificate. After some days he was released on substantial bail of $7,500, a supporter of his having pledged two houses in order to secure the bail money. This letter was evidently written on his release. It shows the influence of socialist ideas on his thinking and his growing disenchantment with America. He denies local newspaper reports that he had given information while in jail –"I don't know what version was cabled home, but there is one thing certain - that most of it was damned lies: if I were a Belgian or Pole or Albanian or Serb or Montenegrin I would be publicly acclaimed as a hero I suppose. Being an Irishman the hate of the B.[ritish] G.[overnment] pursues me here and at present this tír [country] is the same or worse even than England...it is all cant, hypocrisy & big talk - bluff from start to finish. Free speech, action, even thought is denied. Bulk of people absolutely out of sympathy with war, but too frightened and intimidated to protest. Draft very unpopular & a tremendous swing to socialism going on but people in hands of employers who are dominated by Trusts & capitalists who have through their large Eng.[lish] interests bulldozed this Tír into the war. The trusts & capitalists run politics here. The whole system - commercial, financial, political, legal & social is run on graft - honesty is an unknown quantity. Eng.[lish] airgead [money] like water here. Press largely owned or controlled by Northcliffe, hence violently pro E.[nglish] and bitterly anti[-]Irish. Papers here print most silly & absurd accounts not only of Irish but all news - Journalism here amounts to fiction. Bulk of Irish & Irish-Am.[erica] out of touch with Ireland & Irish ideals - most of the former cannot conceive present state of affairs at home. They left Ireland when it was rotten & their minds cannot rise above it. Hope to God emigration is finished[,] for this country has been the grave of the Irish race". He ends saying to "Tell Mother I send my love & tell her not to be afraid for me & not to worry in the least. She will remember the way I felt & acted when I expected 3 years for refusing to leave the country in 1915. I feel now as then - Cheerful & happy & as determined & unconquered as ever. Remember me to all the buachaillí [boys] in Galway". Mellows' returned to Ireland in late 1920. Vehemently opposed to the Treaty, he refused to cooperate with the Free State. After the Four Courts surrender he was interned in Mountjoy Jail where he was executed without trial in December 1922 in a reprisal for a Republican attack on Free State Government TD's. His "Notes from Mountjoy Jail", setting out a Socialist approach to Ireland's problems, influenced other Republicans such as Peadar O'Donnell.
|Citation:||National Library of Ireland. Department of Manuscripts.|
The letter is addressed to 'Dearest B.', signed 'Do Dhearbhráthar [your brother] L.'. Barney Mellows shared his brother's Republican views and was active in Fianna Eireann.
Physical description: 1; letter(5 pp.)
|Call Number||View in||Collection|
|MS 49,415||Manuscripts Reading Room Special Access||Manuscripts|
Reproduction rights owned by the National Library of Ireland.