Skip to main content

This news post is more than 1 year old

27 December 1922: The occupation of the Irish consulate, New York

Read John Gibney’s essay on “Revolutionary Diplomacy” on Century Ireland.

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, features 50 essays from leading international scholars that explore a turning point in history, one whose legacy remains controversial a century on. Building on their own expertise, and on the wealth of recent scholarship provoked by the Decade of Centenaries, each contributor focuses on one event that illuminates a key aspect of revolutionary Ireland, demonstrating how the events of this year would shape the new states established in 1922. Together, these essays explore many of the key issues and debates of a year that transformed Ireland.

In collaboration with Century Ireland(link is external), we are making the 50 essays freely available online. Today’s essay is by John Gibney and it covers the occupation of the Irish consulate in New York.

On the morning of Wednesday, 27 December 1922 the former independent nationalist and Sinn Féin MP and TD Laurence Ginnell arrived at the offices of the Irish consulate on the tenth floor of 119 Nassau St in Lower Manhattan, to seize them in the name of the ‘Irish republic’. With Ginnell (who reportedly produced papers signed by Éamon de Valera to back up his claim) were Major Michael A. Kelly and John F. Finerty of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic, and Robert Briscoe of the IRA (recently arrived in the US on the run, and who later claimed to have occupied the office the night before). Ginnell’s next stop would, he said, be Washington DC, to ‘depose’ the Irish Free State representative to the US, Professor Timothy A. Smiddy (who was in New York at the time). This was the scene faced by the newly appointed consul, Lindsay Crawford (a founding member of the Independent Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland) on his first day in the office. Crawford refused to recognise the claim and when Smiddy himself arrived, he was told by Ginnell that the office had been founded, and thus belonged to, the government of the Irish Republic, which, said Ginnell, continued to function. Continue reading (you will be redirected to the website of Century Ireland)

Ireland 1922, edited by Darragh Gannon and Fearghal McGarry, is published by the Royal Irish Academy with support from the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme. Watch an address by Taoiseach Micheál Martin, T.D. to mark the publication of this book (30 November 2022).


Ireland 1922