AMBASAID NA hEIREANN, LONDAIN
EMBASSY OF IRELAND, LONDON
17, Grosvenor Place,
Telephone: 020-7235 2171
Direct Line: 020-7201 2
Fax: 020-7245 6961
Dr Daniel W. Stowell
Center for Digital Initiatives
112 North Sixth Street
11 February, 2015
Dear Dr Stowell
The letter of sympathy sent on the 1st May 1865 to the then American Ambassador, Charles F. Adams was written by a group of Irishmen living in London who, in the absence of an Irish Embassy or an Irish Ambassador, took it upon themselves to convey their profound sympathy to the American people on the death of 'their deeply lamented and much beloved President', Abraham Lincoln
In sending this message of condolence, the letter writers would have been well aware of the Irish role in the Civil War when an estimated 140,000 Irishmen fought on the Union side.
At least one of the letter's signatories was a Member of Parliament, Daniel O'Donoghue. He was also a great nephew of the outstanding Irish politician of the 19th century, Daniel O'Connell, who had been known as the 'Liberator' for his role in persuading the British government to legislate for Catholic emancipation in 1829. We see that Charles Gavan Duffy, a well known Irish nationalist, and previously a Member of Parliament, also signed the letter, while a third signatory, John Francis O'Donnell, was a journalist and poet of some standing.
The situation of Ireland, and of the Irish in Britain, is very different today from what it was in 1865. Ireland is now an independent country with a proud record in the promotion internationally of human rights and development, objectives that would, I am sure, have been cherished by Abraham Lincoln. Relations between Ireland and Britain have also improved beyond recognition in recent years thanks to the success of the two Governments' efforts in promoting peace and political progress in Northern Ireland.
In the decades after his death, Lincoln's memory provided inspiration to those struggling for freedom and justice, including in Ireland. As Ambassador of Ireland to the United Kingdom
, I am pleased to add my tribute to that paid by my London-based compatriots in 1865 to one of the modern world's most inspiring political figures, President Abraham Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln's example has much to teach us today as we look to the advancement of tolerance and respect for human dignity in so many troubled parts of the world.