Diarmaid Fawsitt's archive was donated to CCCA in 2019 and its processing and listing was completed during the years 2020 to 2022.
The below information comprises the introductory data about Fawsitt and his archive. The full descriptive list is available in hard copy from CCCA.
See also on this site:
Diarmaid L. Fawsitt Personal Archive - Online Exhibition
Michael Collins material from D. Fawsitt's archive
Reference: IE 627/PR81/1
Title: Diarmaid L. Fawsitt Archive, Section 1: Public Life
Level of description: sub-fonds
Extent: 19 boxes
Fawsitt, Diarmaid (Jeremiah / JL) | 1884-1967 | nationalist, civil servant, judge
Fawsitt, Diarmaid (Jeremiah) (1884–1967), nationalist, civil servant, and judge, was born Jeremiah Fawsitt 7 May 1884 at Ballymacthomas, in the Blarney Street area of Cork City, son of Boyle Fawsitt, labourer of Ballymacthomas, and Hannah Fawsitt (née Lucey). From relative poverty his father established a mercantile business and Jeremiah was educated at the CBS, Blarney St., Cork. He was attracted to economics and nationalism in early adulthood.
Motivated by the Cork International Exhibition of 1903 he became a founder member in that year of the Cork Industrial Development Association and was its secretary (1911–19), helping to bring the Ford motor plant to the city in 1917. An active member of the Gaelic League, he was also a founder of Ring College, Co. Waterford. Although he became known as Diarmaid rather than Jeremiah, the initials J. L. remained with him in later years.
Already a member of Sinn Féin, Fawsitt enrolled in the Irish Volunteers at that movement's inauguration (25 November 1913) in the Rotunda Rink, Dublin. He was simultaneously admitted to the IRB and on 14 December 1913 was a founder member, alongside J.J. Walsh, Liam de Róiste, Maurice O'Connor and others, of the Cork city corps of the Volunteers at City Hall, subsequently headquartered at Fisher St., off Patrick St. He thus became comprehensively involved in the national independence movement, familiar with its economic, cultural, and political branches and with its leading figures. In 1918 he went to New York to work in the tinderbox of Irish-American politics, where complex intra-nationalist rivalry threatened to damage republican support. In the summer of 1919, as Dáil Éireann established its shadow government to supplant the official British system in Ireland and the IRA launched its armed campaign, he was appointed first consul-general of the Irish Republic in the USA.
Based in New York, he worked closely with Eamon de Valera, who was campaigning in 1919–20 to raise a republican loan in America.
Admittedly, neither the Irish Republic nor its representatives were recognised by the US government, and the British shared with the American establishment an attitude of amusement and hostility as the Irish strove amid internal divisions to act as a sovereign power. Wisely, Fawsitt did not issue Irish passports, as the symbolic sovereignty of the Irish Republic abroad carried more credibility than a document which at best might be viewed as a curiosity. Fawsitt's value as a diplomat in New York lay in liaison, public relations, and intelligence-gathering, and because of his long experience in commerce and shipping de Valera made him a trade representative travelling between America and Europe. He was articulate and polished, if also at times impatient and meticulous to the point of vanity, causing friction with his own compatriots if not with those Americans he sought to impress as Ireland's ambassador abroad. According to the memoirs of his successor, Joseph Connolly, the Irish mission in New York gained enough local respect in the revolutionary period to be appreciated by all but the most pro-British of Americans. Fawsitt dealt at times with personal and domestic issues brought by Irish-Americans or immigrants lacking educated knowledge of legal and financial procedure. Every favour was invaluable currency in winning political support. Inevitably, however, he became drawn into the factional problems of Irish America, as much personal as policy-driven: when republican loan director and fellow trade representative James O'Mara fell out with Fawsitt over matters of precedence it was Harry Boland, republican political envoy to the US, who temporarily restored civility between them. If Boland favoured O'Mara, de Valera supported Fawsitt, who in turn resented Boland. Fawsitt testified at the late sessions of the American commission on conditions in Ireland, held between November 1920 and January 1921 to keep the public's attention focused on the war while the Irish-American factions remained deadlocked. The British, although invited, remained aloof, leaving the commission open to charges of over-accommodating Irish republicans, some of whom travelled from Ireland to describe British atrocities.
The commission's final report was largely defused by the Anglo–Irish truce of 11 July 1921, after which Diarmaid Fawsitt was recalled to serve with the Irish delegation that negotiated the Anglo–Irish Treaty of 6 December. He was appointed as Technical Secretary/Advisor to Robert Barton TD, the Minister for Agriculture and Minister of Economic Affairs, in October 1921. As Barton’s advisor, Fawsitt was present at the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations in London until November 1921, when he was recalled to Dublin and despatched by the Cabinet on a special mission to report on economic conditions in Belfast.
Fawsitt supported the Treaty and was appointed acting secretary to the provisional government's department of economic affairs in January 1922. He spent some time in London, reporting back in March to Michael Collins about responses to the Treaty among the Irish in Britain, and on the Irish representative Art Ó Briain, whose opposition was suspected and later confirmed.
Subsumed into the Department of Industry and Commerce in the revised ministry of August 1922, Fawsitt became assistant secretary of the department and was on the committee formed in September to create the pro-treaty Cumann na nGaedheal political party. In this position he played a role in developing the scheme for compensation and reconstruction following the burning of Cork in December 1920 and was also responsible for establishing the future management of naval facilities transferred by the British authorities at Haulbowline, Cork Lower Harbour. Unhappy with his subordinate administrative position, he took offence at the appointment of Gordon Campbell, son of the unionist Lord Glenavy, as departmental secretary. Fawsitt was understandably discommoded by this arrangement, but his intemperate reaction marked him as a potential dissenter. With the establishment of the Irish Free State in December 1922 he remained in office until August 1923, when an internal squabble on a trade mission to America became the catalyst for his dismissal.
In political terms Fawsitt was a supporter of the Anglo-Irish Treaty and was a member of the General Council of Cumann na nGaedheal in May 1923. Despite being selected to stand as a pro-Treaty election candidate for Cork city during this period, Fawsitt would later identify with the Fianna Fáil party. After his career in the civil service Fawsitt worked as an Inspector for the Irish Industrial Development Association (Incorporated), Dublin.
Fawsitt became proprietor of a tobacconist's shop on Dame St., Dublin, and studied law, qualifying at the Kings' Inns final examination in October 1927. He was called to the bar in 1928 and took silk in 1938. An acting circuit court judge from 1941, he was fully appointed in June 1943 to the eastern circuit and had a distinguished career, being especially sympathetic towards the poor, whose economic plight often resembled that of the petitioners from his New York days. He retired in May 1956.
Fawsitt was a close associate of butter merchant James Charles (J.C.) Dowdall (1873-1939) of Dowdall O’Mahoney Ltd, himself a founding member of the Cork Industrial Development Association, and a Fianna Fáil senator in Seanad Éireann. The Fawsitt family lived at a number of properties in Cork in the 1910s before settling at a property known as ‘St Petroc’ at Stillorgan in County Dublin.
Died 27 April 1967 aged 83 at St Joseph's nursing home, Kilcroney, Bray, Co. Wicklow, and was buried in St Fintan's cemetery, Sutton, Co. Dublin.
He married (1 October 1911) Catherine Mary, daughter of William Kenny, builder, of Fethard, Co. Tipperary; she predeceased him. Three of their sons entered the legal profession: Seán became a barrister and circuit court judge while Boyle and Kevin became solicitors.
Biographical details adapted and added to by Brian McGee and Julitta Clancy from entry by Patrick Long in the Dictionary of Irish Biography (Sept 2021 version). (DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.003024.v1), published by the Royal Irish Academy. Reproduced under the public licence, Creative Commons CC BY Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode)
Additional References: Documents in Irish Foreign Policy series (www.difp.ie), 'The Anglo-Irish Treaty' (http://research.dho.ie/1921treaty.pdf); several Bureau of Military History statements, such as http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0079.pdf. Also books, 'Rising from the Ashes' T MacCarthy, (Cork City Libraries, 2010) ; Cadogan and Falvey (eds), A Biographical Dictionary of Cork (Dublin, 2006).
Papers kept by the family of Judge Sean and Patience Fawsitt at Manch and Laurelmount, Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Some of the papers accompanied the move to Laurelmount in the mid-1980s while the remainder, stored in the farmhouse loft at Manch, were re-discovered in 2018. The reunited papers were sorted and arranged by Julitta Clancy, archivist and grand-daughter of Diarmaid Fawsitt, prior to their donation to Cork City and County Archives in 2019 by the custodian, Alice Fawsitt, SC, on behalf of the family.
Section I of the Fawsitt archive comprises records created or received by Diarmaid L. Fawsitt relating to his public and working life from 1904 to 1966. The records span a wide historical period from the early days in Cork around 1904 to his Dail Eireann posting as Irish consul in New York in 1919 and through his civil service and legal career in the 1920s and onwards. The most complete set of records are Fawsitt's pocket and daily diaries (ref. PR81/1/7), spanning the entire period from 1920 to 1966, except 1926. The content in the diaries is typically brief however the appointments recorded are an invaluable source for Fawsitt's critical involvement in the diplomatic fight for Irish independence. The diaries allow for historical research into the movements of Fawsitt but also other key players in the republican movement including Eamon de Valera, Harry Boland, James O'Mara, and to a lesser extent Michael Collins.
The collection also includes significant historical records documenting two diplomatic areas of vital concern to the foundation of the Irish state. The first is a series of papers from Fawsitt's diplomatic period in New York. These records include the original set of certificates appointing Fawsitt to the role of first Irish consul to the United States in New York (ref. PR81/1/2/A/01). This is a document of national importance, signed by Eamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith, issued in three languages (Irish, French, and English) and clearly designed to enhance de Valera’s diplomatic mission in America. The records from this period contain important sets of pro-Irish material, created in an effort to draw awareness to Irish suffering under British rule and raise funds in the United States for Dail Eireann. The contents include typed copies of speeches and lectures delivered by Fawsitt to various Irish-American lobby groups. Also present are examples of speeches by Fawsitt, de Valera and Boland to mass gatherings, including at Boston in September 1920 (ref. PR81/1/2/E/03). These documents demonstrate Fawsitt's extensive knowledge of the Irish economy and they express his views on the need to develop Irish industry and grow American trade. Views on home rule and the British empire are also well documented in this part of the collection. The records trace Diarmaid Fawsitt and Eamon de Valera’s movements around the United States on the remarkable tour undertaken by Irish republicans from the east to the west coast of the states and also their return east with Archbishop Mannix. A small volume of material presents evidence of the fundraising activities of the Irish consul in New York, including accounts of sums received for the Irish White Cross fund, Tralee Relief Fund, Cork Relief Fund and the Irish Refugee Fund (ref. PR81/1/2/F).
The second period of diplomacy concerns the post-Truce era, where Fawsitt's records include copies of outgoing letters written by him in London whilst attending the Anglo-Irish treaty conference in his capacity as economic advisor to Robert Barton, T.D. (1881-1975). At this time, Fawsitt’s outgoing letter correspondence demonstrates that he was still primarily involved in the New York consulate. Amongst the papers from this period are draft corrections of texts evidently in circulation between Irish delegates and cabinet concerning those sections of the Anglo-Irish Treaty dealing with economic matters including trade, shipping, and Ireland’s share of the United Kingdom’s debt (ref PR81/1/3/B). The records from this period include letters with Eamon de Valera’s orders recalling Fawsitt from London in late November 1921 to embark on a secret mission to gauge support amongst businessmen in the north of Ireland for an economic and political union with the south. The reports of Fawsitt's mission to Belfast submitted to the Irish cabinet shed an important light on the critical period immediately preceding the vote in favour of approving the Anglo-Irish treaty in Dail Eireann and the division of the cabinet on treaty lines (ref. PR81/1/3/C). The records are also accompanied by a small number of letters from the northern businessmen interviewed by Fawsitt and these provide a unique insight to the concerns and aspirations of some of the business community in the north. These records suggest a brief window in time where the Irish cabinet believed a united Ireland might be possible, before this was broken by the divisive debates on the treaty in Dail Eireann. Amongst these records is a small series of notes taken by Fawsitt whilst attending the public meetings of the treaty debates in the Dail (ref. PR81/1/3/E).
The period after the Anglo-Irish treaty debates in Dail Eireann marks a great shift in Fawsitt’s career away from the field of diplomacy and towards a career in the civil service. Fawsitt moved from employment under Dail Eireann to his post in the Provisional Government of Ireland’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, later part of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Surviving records from this period indicate Fawsitt’s role in early activities of the newly independent state. These include his role in the transfer of naval facilities to Ireland from Great Britain at Haulbowline Island in Cork Harbour and correspondence with the British Admiralty concerning the Treaty Ports at Berehaven Co. Cork and Lough Swilly Co. Donegal (ref. PR81/1/4/B, and PR81/1/4/C/5). Fawsitt’s records on transatlantic communication cables and his unofficial visit to the United States in the summer of 1923 demonstrate an enduring importance placed by Fawsitt and others on Irish-American relations and trade during the civil war period. Extensive correspondence with Irish-Americans, especially James K. McGuire (1863-1923), a former mayor of Syracuse, New York, include important letters providing context for the divisions amongst Irish-Americans in the wake of the Anglo-Irish treaty. These include warnings from the United States of threats to the lives of Diarmaid Fawsitt, Eamon de Valera, Michael Collins, and Richard Mulcahy (ref. PR81/1/3/I/01/29). Extensive correspondence is also present concerning Fawsitt’s demise from the civil service following his unofficial visit to the United States in the summer of 1923 (ref. PR81/1/4/D). These records indicate Fawsitt’s enduring association with Eamon de Valera in the eyes of many, despite his support for the Anglo-Irish treaty.
Section 5 of the collection is comprised of extensive papers demonstrating Fawsitt’s continued efforts to promote Irish trade and industry, and to re-establish himself financially, following his departure from the public service. His involvement in the Irish Industrial Association, both in Dublin and Cork, is evident. Correspondence with the Cork Industrial Development Association contain evidence of efforts to promote trade in a number of different sectors including weaving, tobacco, and in motor manufacture at Ford’s plant in Cork. Correspondence with Mrs Slattery of the Irish Industrial Depot in New York illustrate his ongoing connection to Irish America (PR81/1/5/A/3). This section also documents his work as a journalist, broadcaster, and researcher on industrial topics, including trade marks, tariffs, production statistics, and the history of Irish industries.
Sections 6 and 7 record Fawsitt's new career as a barrister, and, subsequently, circuit court judge. The records present in Section 6 cover his legal training, his early work as a barrister (including work for firms such as Arthur Cox & Co), involvement in cases (eg, the Rossmuck Murder Appeal), and his ongoing study and research, as he quickly established himself as a leading barrister. Sub-section PR81/1/6/E covers Fawsitt's service as a circuit court judge, initially on a temporary basis around Ireland, then subsequently as a permanent judge on the Eastern Circuit. Records include correspondence with court officials, county registrars, the Department of Justice, but also the Department of the Taoiseach, the file on which contains very interesting correspondence with Eamon De Valera sheding light on their friendship and relationship (PR81/1/6/E/4). Also of particular interest are extensive files (PR81/1/6/E/12-13) documenting his work chairing arbitration tribunals on workers' wages under Emergency Powers in place during the Second World War, bringing together his industrial experience and his legal capacities. Letters of congratulations on his becoming a barrister, being appointed judge, and on his retirement, attest to the warmth and esteem in which he was regarded by his many friends and associates, in all walks of life.
The diaries of his legal career as Judge in the South-Western Circuit Court, which comprise Section 7 of the collection, provide a unique insight into the life and activities in the legal profession of the newly independent Irish state.
The small Section 8 documents some of Fawsitt's interests as a public figure, eg, his involvement in the Archbishop Mannix Jubilee Commemoration Fund, and his associations with Australia, which he first visited in c1901/1902 and revisited in 1962.
The records taken together form a common thread in Fawsitt's life; that of his continued and determined interest in furthering the industrial and economic independence of Ireland, and of serving the Irish state and its citizens. The collection preserves an important set of archives recording attitudes towards trade, empire, and economic development both preceding independence and in the early years of the state, and into the world of the legal profession and courts service in mid-20th century Ireland.
1. Early Period, Cork and New York
Accessible to all registered readers at Cork City and County Archives by appointment.
English, some Irish
Descriptive List in hard copy format available at Archives or from Cork libraries
There are a number of references to Fawsitt in the Cabinet minutes for 1920 and 1921 (Ref. DE1/2 and DE1/3), such as;
DE/1/3, Cabinet minutes, 30 Sept 1921, appointment as Technical Advisor.
DE/2/304/13, Report on first visit to Belfast (3 December 1921, 7pp)
DE/2/478, Correspondence, Eamon de Valera and Diarmaid Fawsitt (21-23 November 1921, 3 letters)
(Also references in other records held by NAI)
MS 18, 547: Report on third visit to Belfast by Diarmaid Fawsitt (31 December 1921)
MS 18,547: Report on fourth visit to Belfast by Diarmaid Fawsitt (14 January 1922)
(Also references in other records held by NAI)
De Valera Papers
Judge Diarmaid Fawsitt Statement
Account of the founding of the Volunteers in Cork, as submitted to William D. O'Connell.
Diarmaid Fawsitt Letters
Two MS letters from Diarmaid Fawsitt to William D. O'Connell regarding the setting up of the Irish Volunteers in Cork city and county.
Cork Industrial Development Association
Cork Industrial Development Association G.H. Grindley File
Irish International Trading Corporation (Cork) Ltd.
List Prepared By:
Steven Skeldon, Archivist, CCCA (Sub sections 1-4, 5, 7) Timothy O’Connor, Archivist, CCCA (Sub sections 6, 8) The list is based on an overall organisation and arrangement created by Julitta Clancy.
Biographical Section and Final Editing by:
Brian McGee, Senior Archivist, CCCA and Julitta Clancy
28 March 2022
Diarmaid L. Fawsitt Personal Archive - Online Exhibition