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Revolution at the Waldorf: America and the Irish War of Independence

Part 1: Episode 66 of the Irish Baseball Podcast

In this episode of the Irish Baseball Podcast, host Rick Becker interviews Patrick O’Sullivan Green, author of the book “Revolution at the Waldorf: America and the Irish War of Independence.” The book provides a detailed overview of Irish President Eamon de Valera’s visit to America in 1919, the role of baseball in his tour, and the impact of his visit on Irish independence. It also explores de Valera’s legacy and the complexities of the Treaty debates in Ireland.

Green explains de Valera’s goals during his visit, which were to gain recognition for the Irish Republic and to raise funds for the fledgling Irish government. The discussion also touches on the challenges de Valera faced in America, including the delicate balancing act of supporting Ireland while maintaining a good relationship with the United Kingdom, America’s war ally. Green explains that the Irish-American leaders understood the political landscape and knew that recognition from America was unlikely. However, de Valera did not fully grasp this and had unrealistic expectations.

The conversation then shifts to the role of baseball in de Valera’s visit. Green explains that de Valera’s colleague, Harry Boland, was an avid sports fan and became interested in baseball during their tour. Boland happened to be in Cincinnati during the 1919 World Series, where the Reds had just lost Game 7 to the Chicago White Sox. Boland noted in his diary that Cincinnati could still win the championship the following night. This highlights the impact of baseball on the American culture at the time.

The meeting also touches on the 1919 Black Sox scandal, where several White Sox players were banned for life due to connections to gambling and throwing the World Series. Green discusses the influence of gamblers and organized crime in sports and American society during that era.

The conversation then delves into the impact of de Valera’s visit on Irish independence. Green believes that while de Valera’s visit was not a fool’s errand, it was a missed opportunity. De Valera’s failure to raise sufficient funds and his strategic mistakes led to a split in Irish America that would take generations to heal. He also discusses de Valera’s legacy in Ireland, noting that his reputation has suffered in recent years due to his close attachment to the Catholic Church and extreme conservatism.

Part 2: Episode 67 of the Irish Baseball Podcast

In this episode, the discussion revolves around various aspects of the Irish Revolution and the role of key figures such as de Valera and Michael Collins. The conversation begins with a reflection on the respect shown by both sides during the treaty debate in Ireland, acknowledging the complexities and differing viewpoints of those who were pro-treaty and anti-treaty. The focus then shifts to de Valera’s time in the United States, where he sought recognition for the Irish Republic from the US government. It is noted that de Valera’s faction had ties to the Bolsheviks in Russia, which hindered their efforts to gain recognition from the United States. The Irish Progressive League, a socialist-leaning group in New York, played a role in these connections. The discussion highlights the challenges faced by de Valera and his faction in navigating the political landscape in America during this time.

The conversation then turns to the book “Crowdfunding the Revolution,” which explores the fundraising efforts of the Irish government in 1919. The book sheds light on the significant role played by women in the Irish Revolution, challenging the traditional narrative that often overlooks their contributions. The story of Eilish Ryan, a young woman who left her successful career to work for the underground government, is highlighted as an example of the dedication and sacrifice of women during this period. The discussion emphasizes the importance of recognizing and studying the role of women in the Irish Revolution.

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