Thomas J. Kiernan and Archbishop Daniel Mannix

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 3 (May/June 2011), Letters, Volume 19

Thomas J. Kiernan and Archbishop Daniel Mannix 1Sir,—While reading your excellent Jan./Feb. 2011 (HI 19.2) issue, I was surprised that your caption for the photograph of Thomas J. Kiernan, Delia Murphy and their two children on p. 48 lacked the name of the tall bishop in the centre of the smiling family, and indeed suggested that the image illustrated the wartime work of Irish ‘diplomats stationed in continental Europe’. In fact the photograph is from the other side of the world, the date is after the war had ended, and the clergyman is Archbishop Daniel Mannix of Melbourne, whose last visit to Europe was in 1925. In November 1946 Mannix and Mayor Richard Connelly organised a large civic reception at the Melbourne town hall to mark the arrival of Kiernan, the first Irish diplomat appointed to Australia. Based on the background greenery and the ages of the children, my guess is that the photograph you used was taken at Raheen, the episcopal residence, Kew, Melbourne, on the occasion of that welcome for Kiernan, though he and Delia made other subsequent visits to Melbourne when the photograph might have been taken. It is also possible that the photograph was taken at the Irish embassy in Canberra, at which Mannix was an early visitor.While Kiernan could not use his 1946–54 meetings with Mannix to send ‘regular reports to Iveagh House’ about wartime European news, Mannix’s biographers, and Dermot Keogh in Ireland and the Vatican, have recorded that Mannix influenced Kiernan to send reports to Iveagh House about other matters, such as opposing, successfully as it turned out, the appointment of the allegedly anti-Irish Archbishop Giovanni Panico as apostolic delegate to Dublin c. 1948.As a magazine editor of many years’ experience I know how hard it is to keep track of what has been covered in previous issues. However, you will pardon me for drawing attention to the photographs of the altogether distinctive Mannix accompanying a fine article by Joe Broderick on ‘De Valera and Archbishop Daniel Mannix’ in your autumn 1994 issue (HI 2.3).With the ‘Not just Ned: the Irish in Australia’ exhibition due to open at the National Museum in Canberra on St Patrick’s Day this year, and with some remarkable Mannix memorabilia being among the hundreds of objects on display, it is timely to recall Kiernan’s role in the antipodes.—Yours etc.,VAL NOONEMelbourne

Fair cop, Val, although strictly speaking the caption is not inaccurate since it refers to neither time nor place. Incidentally, Joe Broderick knew Mannix personally. He was his personal secretary towards the end of Mannix’s long life.—Ed.

 

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