My grandfather Thomas Patrick Barrett was a member of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic. When the convention was held in St. Louis, on February 3, 1921, the Irish War of Independence was raging. Apparently, Éamon de Valera, President of the Provisional Irish Republic, wasn’t happy with the effectiveness of Friends of Irish Freedom and other Irish Independence organizations and sanctioned the creation of the AARIR.
The panoramic photo above was taken on the occasion of a lecture by Miss Mary MacSwiney, sister of Terence MacSwiney, the former Lord Mayor of Cork (Ireland) who died of a hunger strike in a prison at Brixton. Her plea was for the recognition of the Irish Republic.
From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 4 February 1921 (page 3):
She went on to admonish the U.S. for not “making the world safe for democracy” after World War I:
She supports the case that the English were committing genocide against the Irish and, indeed, the “Irish question” was a cause célèbre among many human right activists.
So, my grandfather, himself the grandson of potato famine refugees, was there to hear her.
Tom Barrett died in 1926. My mother never knew him. This photo hung on the wall of her family’s apartment above Barrett’s Market, the only photo of him she had access to. She told me that, as a child, she would spend long hours staring into it, staring at her father’s face, wishing she could know him better.
Panoramic photo by Sievers Studios of St. Louis. Scanned Feb, 2021, by Ellen Stretch.