Publications and Reviews


Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume I, 1919 -1922 (Dublin, 1998)

 A project of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy.

difp v1This volume is a documentary history of the development of Irish foreign policy and the Irish diplomatic service from 21 January 1919 to 6 December 1922. With a few exceptions, none of the documents in this volume have ever appeared in print before. The Department of Foreign Affairs documents in the National Archives of Ireland have been made available to researchers only since January 1991.

The opening date of the volume, 21 January 1919, marks the opening of the First Dáil (parliament) in the Mansion House in Dublin and publication of the Irish Declaration of Independence. 6 December 1922, the date on which the volume concludes, marks the official birth of the Irish Free State, one year after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in London on 6 December 1921.

The four years between 1919 and 1922 that are covered in this volume saw a political and military conflict within Ireland against British rule, the British partition of the island into Northern and Southern Ireland through the 1920 Government of Ireland Act, a negotiated settlement giving Southern Ireland dominion status through the December 1921 Treaty, and the emergence of the Irish Free State amid the violence of civil war which began in June 1922 and ended in May 1923. These years also saw the birth, near death and re-birth, amid the chaos of civil war, of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and the Irish diplomatic service. Buy online

Reviews of Documents rish Foreign Policy, Volume I (1919-1922)

Hugh Oram in Books Ireland (March 1999)

'a most revealing publishing project by the Department [of Foreign Affairs] and the Royal Irish Academy, creating an invaluable compilation of source material'
'a fascinating repository of information about the establishment of the State'

Garret FitzGerald, Irish Times, 23 January 1999

'A striking feature of this volume is the amount of Foreign Affairs documentation that has survived from the years before the foundation of the State.'

Professor Tom Garvin (UCD), Irish Times, 17 October 1999

''The excitement and the desperation of the crucial years at the beginning of the State , as well as the ingenuity and determination of her civil servants, have never been clearer.'
'one splendid book
'the handbook of all serious students of the period in the future'
'fascinating reading for the general public and contains many an eye-opener'

Professor John A. Murphy, Irish Independent, 8 November 1998
fascinating material'
'presented skilfully and informatively annotated, with an indispensable biographical glossary.'
Books Ireland, November 1998
' a very handsome volume'
'invaluable and fascinating'
'you won’t get closer to the events of those years than in this fine book.'

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume II, 1923 – 1926(Dublin, 2000)

A project of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy.


This volume is a documentary history of the development of Irish foreign policy and diplomatic history from 6 December 1922 to 12 March 1926. As with volume one, few of the documents in this volume have previously appeared in print.

The opening date of the volume, 6 December 1922, marks the official establishment of the Irish Free State under the 6 December 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty. The closing date, 19 March 1926, is that of the Ultimate Financial Agreement between the Irish Free State and Britain. The unifying theme in the volume is the establishment of the Irish Free State as a sovereign independent state in the international system.

The volume includes a complete documentary account of the Irish Free State’s policy towards the Boundary Commission that was to redraw the frontier between the state and Northern Ireland.

Particular attention is paid in the volume to Irish policy at the League of Nations from the state’s admission to the League in September 1923 and Irish policy towards the Commonwealth, particularly at the 1923 Imperial Conference.

In 1924 Timothy Smiddy was accredited as Ireland’s first Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the United States of America. The volume covers the negotiations surrounding his accreditation and his subsequent role as Irish Minister to the United States. Buy online

Reviews of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume II(1923 – 1926)

Professor Tom Garvin, UCD, Irish Times, 16 December 2000

a marvelous compilation, compulsory reading for any student of Irish political development'
'the series is in itself a major Irish intellectual landmark.’

Professor John A. Murphy, Sunday Independent, 31 December 2002

'the documents selected are representative and significant'
'an authoritative source and reference work for those interested in the early years of the State'
'splendid document collection'

Reviews of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume III (1926-1933)

Stephen Collins, Sunday Tribune, 12 January 2003
'an invaluable record of Ireland’s developing foreign policy'
'amazing range of documents from the…intensely political to the highly personal'
'volume III maintains impeccable standards set by its predecessors'

Professor John A. Murphy, Sunday Independent, 1 December 2002

'an informative who's who of the main figures, lucid footnotes and an excellent index make this a reader'
'friendly publication'

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume III, 1926 – 1932 (Dublin, 2002)

A project of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Royal Irish Academy.

DIFP VIIIThe third volume in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series reveals how through the League of Nations, the Commonwealth and a small network of overseas missions the Department of External Affairs protected Ireland's international interests in the increasingly unstable world system of the late 1920s and the early 1930s.

Elected in 1930 to the Council of the League of Nations (the equivalent of today's UN Security Council) Irish diplomats faced grave problems across the globe. Through the Council Irish foreign policy developed a truly international perspective, far beyond the concerns of Anglo-Irish relations which had long dominated Ireland's external affairs. Anglo-Irish relations were strained in the 1920s as successive Ministers for External Affairs, FitzGerald, O'Higgins and McGilligan and President W.T. Cosgrave sought to develop Ireland's independence by stripping the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty back to its basic articles. The result was a widespread reform of Dominion status in which the Irish increasingly took the initiative through the Imperial Conferences of 1926 and 1930.By 1932, when Cosgrave's Cumann na nGaedheal government left office, Ireland was infull control of her internal and external affairs and the British Empire had given way to the Commonwealth.

Volume III explores the varied means by which Irish politicians and diplomats sought to secure Ireland's place amongst the nations. The volume examines the visit of Cosgrave to the United States and Canada in January 1928, the first overseas visit by an Irish Prime Minister. It also looks at Irish relations with the Holy See in the run-up to the 1932 Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, the views of Irish diplomats on the collapse of Weimar Germany and problems such as selling Ireland as a tourist destination in the United States and the development of trade with Europe.

Other issues covered include how much state hospitality should be afforded in Dublin to visiting dignitaries and the use by Irish diplomats of new technologies such as cinema newsreels and talkie films to bring to a world audience the message that Ireland was n independent state that sought peace and prosperity across the international system. Ireland had an active foreign policy in the years surrounding the Great Depression.

The story of this critical period in world history as it affected Ireland and as seen by Irish diplomats has never before been told. DIFP Volume III tells that story through the confidential telegrams, secret despatches and personal letters of this small group of men and women. Buy online

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume IV, 1932– 1936

Volume IV of the DIFP series, deals with the development of Irish Foreign Policy during the period 10 March 1932 – 31 December 1936.

DIFP Volume IVThis volume takes as its starting point the formation of Ireland’s first Fianna Fáil administration, led by Eamon de Valera - who assumed a dual role as President of the Executive Council and Minister for External Affairs. As a result of the importance attached by de Valera to the External Affairs portfolio, the department grew in both status and power, within the Irish administrative system.

Officials at the department were keen to grasp the opportunities offered, for developing policy, under their new minister. Individuals such as Joseph P. Walshe (Secretary of the DEA) and John W. Dulanty (Irish High Commissioner in London) were each given latitude in the tactical execution of policy and Walshe in particular developed a close professional and personal relationship with de Valera. From the outset, Irish diplomats played a pivotal role in the implementation of de Valera’s vision of rewriting and ultimately abolishing many aspects of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty.

The period covered by this volume proved to be an eventful one in terms of Ireland’s developing foreign policy. De Valera and his officials at the Department for External Affairs soon set about restructuring the framework of British-Irish relations and dismantling the 1921 Treaty. Legislation facilitating the abolition of the oath of allegiance was introduced in Dáil Eireann, land annuity payments due to Britain were withheld, the office of Governor General was downgraded, King Edward VII died, his successor abdicated and two External Relations Acts were passed by the Dáil. By the end of 1936, there had been almost five years of continuous and comprehensive redefinition of British-Irish relations.

Although British-Irish relations were the most important aspect of Irish Foreign Policy in the 1930s, Ireland’s relationship with its nearest neighbour was not the sole concern of politicians and diplomats. The imposition of British retaliatory tariffs, following the retention of the annuity payments, led Irish officials to look abroad in search of alternative international markets for the country’s exports. This outward looking approach was also clearly evident at the League of Nations in Geneva.

During the 1930s, Ireland enjoyed a period of unparalleled involvement on the wider international stage, through membership of the League of Nations. Ireland’s position on the League Council, the Irish Presidency of the same council, de Valera’s addresses to the League Assembly and Seán Lester’s service as the League of Nations High Commissioner in Danzig and mediator in international disputes greatly increased the country’s international profile and earned international respect. Elsewhere, diplomatic links with Europe and the USA continued to be fostered and, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, an Irish Legation opened in Madrid.

Predominance is given in this volume to documents that chart the complex reorientation of the relationshipbetween Ireland and Britain. This reflects the primary emphasis of Irish Foreign Policy during the period. Many documents relating to Ireland’s role at the League of Nations have also been included. With diplomats stationed in Berlin, Paris and Vatican City, the Department of External Affairs was kept well informed of the developments on the continent. Many documents charting the course of European events in the run up to the second world war survive and are published here. Buy online

Reviews of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume IV (1932 – 1936)

John A. Murphy, Sunday Independent, 6 March 2005

‘[this] is the dramatic story of the evolution of the Irish Free State during five years of radical constitutional change.’

‘a convenient resource for the student of Irish diplomatic history – and also for the interested general reader.’

‘the excellent editorial approach in previous volumes also characterises this absorbing book. A concise who’s who of the main figures, informative footnotes and an excellent index make this a reader-friendly publication’

John Bowman, Magill, 16 March/12 April 2005

‘compelling reading’

‘[an] outstanding series’

‘…new documents shed valuable light on the official Irish attitude to Britain, and to Nazi Germany.’

Stephen Collins, Sunday Tribune, 14 November 2004

‘An eyewitness account of Hitler’s rise to power, contained in a series of dispatches sent back to Dublin by an Irish diplomat based in Berlin, is just one of the gems contained in the latest series of Documents on Irish foreign policy…’

Deaglán de Bréadún, Irish Times, 15 November 2004

‘Irish diplomatic reaction to the rise of Adolf Hitler to power in Germany in the 1930s is a prominent feature of Volume Four in the series Documents on Irish Foreign Policy…’

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern, TD, 9 November 2004

‘One of the striking features of these documents is the continuing validity of many of the observations contained in them…The volumes are of the highest quality…they represent a real and successful partnership between my Department, the Royal Irish Academy and the National Archives.’

Diarmaid Ferriter, Village, 11-17 December 2004

‘a fascinating new book’
‘Documents on Irish foreign policy, Volume IV, brings together over 400 documents which go to the heart of de Valera’s quest to establish an independent role for Ireland in international affairs during a tumultuous decade.’

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume V, 1937-1939

DIFP Volume VVolume V in the DIFP series chronicles the development and execution of Irish foreign policy in the last years of peace and the lead up to the outbreak of World War Two in September 1939.

The volume explains in unrivalled detail the important developments in British-Irish relations in 1937 that led to the April 1938 Anglo-Irish Agreement over trade, finance and defence, which allowed Ireland to remain neutral in World War Two. While British-Irish relations are the most important theme covered in DIFP V, the volume also shows how in the aftermath of the 1938 Agreement Ireland moved from supporting the League of Nations as the League declined in importance in the later 1930s and prepared to implement wartime neutrality.

The Irish legation in Berlin was destroyed during an RAF bombing raid in 1943 and the Department of External Affairs in May 1940 destroyed many papers relating to Irish-German relations, fearing that Ireland would soon be invaded by Germany. DIFP V has utilised the remaining sources to provide as comprehensive a picture as possible of Irish relations with Hitler’s Germany in the late 1930s.

The volume examines the destruction of documents by the Department of External Affairs in 1940 and provides the first comprehensive listing of material known to have been destroyed in the invasion scare.

A significant portion of the volume is given over to a comprehensive account of Ireland’s policy towards the Spanish civil war, including the question of whether to recognize Franco’s government before the end of the civil war and how to safeguard the life of Irishman Frank Ryan, an IRA man fighting with the International Brigade, captured, jailed and sentenced to death in Spain by the Nationalists.

The volume contains confidential reports and deciphered code telegram from the Irish legations in Washington, London, Paris, Geneva, Berlin and the Holy See to Dublin, including newly declassified material recently discovered in the Irish Embassy in London. DIFP V is essential for anyone interested in Irish history and Irish foreign policy and in a wider context the response of small states to the clash between democracy and fascism that led to the Second World War. Buy online

Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Volume VI, 1937-1939

The sixth in the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy (DIFP) series, runs from September 1939 to January 1941.

difp v1Edited by Catriona Crowe, Ronan Fanning, Michael Kennedy, Eunan O'Halpin and Dermot Keogh.

 Commencing as war began in Europe, it covers seventeen months of grave crisis for Irish foreign policy makers, months in which an invasion of Ireland by either belligerent became a real possibility.

Neutrality, hitherto aspirational, had to be implemented in practice.
Ireland did not wish to be dragged unwillingly into war.

The months from September 1939 to May 1940 allowed the Department of External Affairs to organise to meet the exigencies of the European conflict and to set out the parameters of neutrality.

For Irish diplomats, the most sensitive and dangerous period of the Second World War was without doubt the summer and autumn of 1940. The German invasion of France and the Low Countries, the eventual fall of France on 22 June and the advance of German forces to the French coast concentrated Irish minds on the possibility of a German invasion of Ireland as part of, or as a diversionary raid leading to, an invasion of Britain. Preventing invasion, preserving neutrality and independence in wartime, became the overriding theme of Irish foreign policy in September 1939 and would remain so until May 1945. Buy online

Reviews of Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, Volume VI (1939-1941)

Mary Kenny, Times Literary Supplement, 26 June 2009

‘a compelling narrative’
‘a page-turner, leaving the reader eager for the sequel … one longs for Volume VII’

Sunday Independent, 14 December 2008
‘Ireland was a lucky neutral during the Second World War’
‘preserving Ireland from invasion – by Britain or Germany is the theme of this latest volume in the Royal Irish Academy’s DIFP series’.

Deirdre McMahon, Irish Times, 2 December 2008
‘Reports from the diplomatic front line on a world turned upside down

Ciaran Byrne, Irish Independent, 26 November 2008
‘remarkable disclosures’

Stephen Collins, Irish Times, 26 November 2008
‘War Secrets – a fascinating light on a critical period in the nation’s history’
‘State planned for British rescue mission in case of German invasion’

Belfast Telegraph, 2 December 2008
‘DIFP VI reveals a mood of continual crisis’

Irish Daily Mail, 26 November 2008
‘Brits in! Dev’s pact with Britain as Nazis Loomed’
‘Irish welcome for UK troops – but only after Hitler’s invasion began’



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