Sunday, September 17, 2017

TRINITY | Alumni Weekend

JT Marlin (L) and Owen Murphy. Photo by
Alice Tepper Marlin. Chris Oakley, far left.
At the annual Trinity Oxford alum dinner, I was seated next to Dr. Owen Murphy, a fellow economist.

Owen grew up in Monaghan (one of the three counties in Ulster Province that is not part of the UK, the other two being Donegal and Cavan) and worked on economic development issues all his life.

We discovered a number of mutual friends, including the late Neal Kearney, a much-respected labor negotiator and director of a large international labor union in the apparel sector. He was also on the Board of Social Accountability International, founded by Alice Tepper Marlin, who took this photo.

Owen was interested in the fact that my father worked for William J. ("Wild Bill") Donovan (1883-1959), director of the O.S.S. during WW2. My Dad was in Dublin and London. We talked about Irish neutrality and found out that we both had a connection to Dr. T. Ryle Dwyer, a important expert on British-Irish relations during World War II.

Dwyer wrote an eight-column obituary of my father in The Irish Times, in December 1994. I have looked up what Dwyer wrote subsequently, based on his book, Behind the Green Curtain. [Added based on queries in comment: In the following excerpt from a review, he is critiquing a book by John J. Turi accusing √Čamon de Valera of being a spy for the British, or something like that. Turn is a retired US naval officer and historian from Princeton, New Jersey. He developed an interest in Irish history through his Irish-born wife.
Here is a link to information about Turi's book:]
I argue that de Valera could not have provided more help to the Allies during World War II. But he was acting as head of government and certainly not as a spy.
He authorised Irish diplomats to be used as American spies on the continent. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime forerunner of the CIA, formulated questions that were given to the Department of External Affairs in Dublin. These were sent to the diplomats in Berlin, Rome and Vichy, and Dublin forwarded the replies to the OSS.
This was handled by Joe Walshe, secretary of the Department of External Affairs, in cooperation with Ervin Marlin of the OSS. De Valera was helping the Allies because he believed that the defeat of fascism was in Ireland’s interest.
If he were a British spy, why would Churchill try to help the United States in ensuring that de Valera was discredited in American eyes in order to undermine his influence in there? During various interviews in recent days Turi seemed to be jumping to conclusions as a result of what he did not find, rather than what he actually found.
For instance, he states that there is no record of de Valera being tried by the British in 1916. Given the chaos in Dublin in the aftermath of the Easter Rebellion, one should not attach that much significance to the fact that such records have not been preserved.
Turi seems to think it was sinister that de Valera survived and, worse still, that at the moment of truth the Long Fellow [nickname for de Valera] had no desire to die for Ireland? He had a pregnant wife and three children, and one should be asking questions about his sanity if he had been anxious to be executed.
There was never any suggestion that de Valera’s trial took more than a matter of minutes in the midst of the confusion of the week after the rebellion, and he was the second last commandant to surrender. The last was Thomas Ashe, arguably the most successful commandant, but the British did not execute him either. The main reason has always been that London asked for the executions to be stopped.
While reading a book on Churchill, Turi initially developed an interest in Michael Collins. "I turned to books about him and became totally smitten with this wonderful person."
The more he read about Collins the more de Valera kept coming up. "Every time he came up it was a disaster for Ireland," Turi told the Irish Post. He therefore decided to write about the Long Fellow [de Valera] "because everything he touched was to the detriment of Ireland."
Was de Valera’s seminal role in enlisting the support of the hierarchy against the conscription campaign in Britain’s interest? The British had to abandon their plans for conscription in Ireland.
De Valera "initiated the civil war," Turi told John Green. Nobody has suggested that de Valera had anything to do with the murder of Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson whose death sparked Lloyd George and Churchill to insist on the attack on the Four Courts. Moreover, it was Collins who ordered the attack on the Four Courts, not de Valera.
If de Valera was a British spy, why did they try to undermine his new government in 1932? He insisted that Ireland did not owe land annuities to Britain. Neville Chamberlain, the British chancellor of the exchequer, warned cabinet colleagues that de Valera had a good case and Britain might lose if they submitted the case to international arbitration.
Cumann na nGaedheal pleaded with the British not to give in to de Valera, or they would be undermined, so the British initiated the Economic War. This was clearly to undermine the man that Turi would have us believe was England’s greatest spy.
I cannot remember ever hearing anything about Michael Collins in primary or secondary school. I became interested in him while at university in Texas in 1966. I wrote a master’s thesis on the Anglo-Irish Treaty and could hardly have been more critical of de Valera. 
IT WAS initially because I was so critical of de Valera that I became interested in the American ambassador’s assessment of him in 1940. David Gray wrote then that de Valera was "probably the most adroit politician in Europe and he honestly believes that all he does is for the good of the country. He has the qualities of martyr, fanatic and Machiavelli. No one can outwit him, frighten or brandish him. Remember that he is not pro-German nor personally anti-British but only pro-de Valera."
While writing a doctoral dissertation on US relations with Ireland during the war, I came across Gray’s manuscript for a book that ran to more than 700 pages in typescript. It was a diatribe against de Valera with little historical merit, other than as an insight into Gray’s own twisted thinking.
Turi has been exhibiting the same approach with his unsupported allegations in his interviews. "I list literally dozens of instances in my book where De Valera’s activities benefited England," Turi told the Irish Post. "Yet I could not find one major decision of his that benefited Ireland."
There have always been people who were unwilling to give de Valera any credit for anything, such as those Irish people who essentially invited the British to wage the Economic War in order to undermine the Long Fellow in the 1930s.
For all his failings, and he had many, he made a major contribution to Irish life in taking the gun out of 26-County politics and asserting the country’s political independence.
Moreover, he did a magnificent job in keeping Ireland out of the Second World War.
This story was in the Irish Examiner Saturday, October 31, 2009 (
While looking around for the sources of the the above quote, I ran across the papers of Colonel Dan Brown, which are in the University College Dublin archives. (The full catalog of Dan Brown's papers is here:
The following numbered items in the collection bear on the activities of the O.S.S. and the issue of Irish neutrality. 

1 October 1983- Office of Strategic Studies Operations,15 December 1984 in Ireland 1939-47 Manuscript research notes, draft entitled ‘Possible Project’ and correspondence to Dan Bryan relating to his interest in Irish-American relations during the period. Includes quotations taken from David Gray Papers by Deirdre McMahon in her letter dated 1 October 1983 and letter from E R “Spike” Marlin to Dan Bryan dated 15 December 1984 which discusses P71/ Colonel Dan Bryan Papers.

November 1970- Letters from Thomas Ryle Dwyer, September 1975 49 St Brendan’s Park, Tralee, County Kerry, to Dan Bryan on the subject of Irish-American intelligence co-operation during the Emergency period. Includes photocopies of letters from J Russell Forgan, Deputy Chief of O.S.S. for Europe to Dwyer dated 6 November 1970 and answers by E R Marlin to questions posed by Dwyer on same. In letter from Forgan to Dwyer he states that most of the spies operating in Ireland were ‘doubled. By that I mean that they worked for us and sent their so-called superiors news which we fed them. In that respect they were very helpful to our cause’.

26 June 1985 Cutting from letters to the editor of The Irish Times titled ‘Colonel Dan Bryan’ by E R Marlin, 8 Castle Hill, Berkhamsted, Herts in which he draws the attention of the editor to errors in Nigel West’s books MI5 and MI6. He also takes the opportunity to ‘express my thanks  and appreciation to Col Dan Bryan for the outstanding service he and his organisation rendered his country and mine during World War II by preventing Ireland from being used as a source of information that might have had disastrous effects on the Allies’ conduct of the war’. See also P71/#175, P71/#182.

19 November 1983- M16: 1909-45. 19 December 1986 Manuscript research notes by Dan Bryan and correspondence with Nigel West concerning a book review by Dan Bryan of ‘MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945’ Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson [the Irish Times 19 November 1983]. See also P71/#147, P71/#182.

Photocopy of book review from The Irish Times in which Dan Bryan reviews MI6: British Secret Intelligence Service Operations 1909-1945 by Nigel West. Weidenfeld and Nicolson. See also P71/#147, P71/#175.


  1. The name "Turi" is mentioned without identification. Who he?

  2. John J. Turi is a retired US naval officer and historian from Princeton, New Jersey. He developed an interest in Irish history through his wife, who was born in Ireland.