Ireland and Irish Americans

“It is a rare work of scholarship that brings together Eamon de Valera and Studs Lonigan, and even rarer one that can fuse those diverse elements into a compelling exploration of a nation taking shape, a people being re-made. Ireland and Irish Americans is an impressive achievement.”

Kevin Boyle, Northwestern University, National Book Award-winning author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age

Book cover

“John Day Tully’s Ireland and Irish Americans, 1932-1945 is an outstanding primer on the Irish and Irish-American search for identity during some of the most critical years of the twentieth century. In it, Tully offers not only an incisive look at the interactions between the Irish in Ireland and their kinsmen in the United States, but also provide a sophisticated and nuanced demonstration of how foreign policymaking influences, and is influenced by, culture. Tully offers compelling evidence that Ireland’s policy of neutrality was driven at least as much by a quest for identity as it was by a desire of security. For those interested in Irish America, he illuminates the role of foreign affairs played in the creation of Irish Americans’ sense of who they were during the Depression and World War II years.”  — Troy Davis, Stephen F. Austin University, author of Dublin’s American Policy: Irish-American Diplomatic Relations, 1945-1952

“Tully’s real contribution is his well-researched account of the efforts of US ambassador to Ireland David Gray to misrepresent Irish neutrality as pro-German and to sour the relationship between the Irish Free State and the US. This study suggests that Gray–depicted here as incompetent and in his later years even demented–largely succeeded. Americans never understood the reasons for Irish neutrality or the ways in which it benefited the Allies. Other scholars have made similar arguments (e.g., T. Ryle Dwyer in Strained Relations, 1988), but none have offered as comprehensive and forceful a case as Tully does here.”  — Padraic Kennedy, CHOICE, March 2011

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 proved a pivotal juncture in modern Irish history, posing an existential threat to the diplomatic autonomy of the new country. Caught between Nazi aggression and British desperation, Taoiseach Eamon de Valéra nevertheless refused to abandon his prewar commitment to neutrality for the next six years. Although this stance enjoyed almost unanimous support within Irish borders, foreign observers were much less sympathetic,maintaining a bitter sense of recrimination that would persist long after the defeat of the Axis powers.

John Day Tully’s Ireland and Irish Americans 1932–1945 offers welcome insight into the role played by transatlantic relations during this dramatic test of Irish will. Drawing largely upon recently released state records, Tully identifies the wartime experience as the crucial moment of disengagement between Ireland and Irish America, following a period of shifting identities on each side of the Atlantic. The author’s discussion of Irish developments revisits a thirty year- old debate on the origins and motivations behind that country’s lasting commitment to neutrality, as Tully attributes this definitive stance to deValéra’s interwar attempt to create an independent role for Ireland on the world stage. At the same time, the author challenges the conventional notion that Irish- American identity lost its salience during the ethnic watershed of the 1920s, asserting instead that Irish Americans remained marginalized in the United States until World War II. . . .

The author offers a timely and sophisticated reading of recently released diplomatic material that help to map the swirling undercurrents that marked this stormy period of transatlantic relations.”   Matthew J. O’Brien, New Hibernia Review 15, no. 2 (Samhradh/Summer 2011)