Letters to the American Committee for Relief in Ireland

Repository: Kilkenny Archaeological Society

Identity Statement

TitleLetters to the American Committee for Relief in Ireland
Archive ReferenceIE KAS/Q005
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/letters-american-committee-relief-ireland
Creation Dates1921-1922
Extent Medium86 items (2 files)


Creator(s): American Committee for Relief in Ireland

  • Administrative History ↴

    In January 1921, the American Committee for Relief in Ireland (ACRI) was set up to raise funds in America for the relief of distress arising from the War of Independence. Representatives of ACRI, led by Clemens J France (1877-1959) of Rhode Island, United States, made an inspection tour of Ireland in February and March 1921 visiting villages and towns that had suffered damage, mostly to private property. Simultaneously in the US, a national ACRI committee began an intensive fundraising campaign. It won support from the president, state governors, bishops, and other dignatories. An organisation was established in each of the 48 states. Over 5 million dollars was raised. Recognising that the most efficient means of distributing relief was through an organisation based in Ireland, the monies raised were remitted to Ireland for distribution by the Irish White Cross (IWC), a nominally independent body set up under the management of the Quaker businessman, James Douglas, though largely funded by ACRI. Whilst ACRI tried to remain non-political, concerns were expressed that it was exploited by the IWC which was dominated by individuals with links to Sinn Féin, including Michael Collins. British authorities at ambassadorial level made representations to the American government regarding political interference. As a possible result, in late 1921, ACRI's policy of direct relief to individuals was abandoned in favour of support for Irish job creation, and the Irish White Cross was essentially wound down after 1922.
  • Archival History ↴

    The ACRI letters were acquired by the KAS library in 1990 from Michael Buggy, Solicitors, Kilkenny. A note in the file indicates they may have originated in the Buggy office at Clonmel, Co Tipperary.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: American Committee for Relief in Ireland ↴

    This is a collection of 86 carbon-copy type-written letters and statements detailing ill-treatment to individuals and damage to property by ‘Crown Forces’ during the War of Independence 1920-1921. The letters give a graphic picture of the hardships faced by families. They were written to the American Committee for Relief in Ireland (ACRI) in response to a request for details of losses suffered during the war. To further its efforts, ACRI intended to publish the details in a book. All of the letters are from recipients of relief in counties Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Limerick, Longford, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Waterford, Westmeath and Wexford. Sixty-seven of the letters date between August 1921 and February 1922. Nineteen are undated but cover incidents that occurred between Oct 1920 and June 1921, the same period as the dated letters. Sixty letters are specifically addressed to Clemens France, many giving his address as Director, ACRI, Standard Hotel, Harcourt Street, Dublin. The addressee is omitted in a number of the letters, whilst a few are addressed to the Irish White Cross.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Accruals ↴

    No further accruals are expected.
  • Arrangement ↴

    The papers are arranged in two files:-
    File 1: letters & statements nos. 1-51 (60 pages)
    File 2: letters & statements nos. 52-86 (44 pages)

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Open by appointment. Please contact librariankas@gmail.com in advance of your visit.
Conditions Governing ReproductionItems may be copied for personal research use only. If a researcher wishes to publish any documents from this collection, a request must be submitted in writing to Kilkenny Archaeological Society.
Creation Dates1921-1922
Extent Medium86 items (2 files)
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available in the reading room giving names of letter writers together with their postal addresses and counties of origin. Digital images of the documents are also available. The list was prepared using preliminary analysis and research on the documents carried out by Edward J Law in 2012. Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Originals InformationEfforts have been made by KAS to locate the originals of which these documents are just carbon copies, but without success. Any additional information would be appreciated, to librariankas@gmail.com.
Related MaterialNational Archives of Ireland, Irish White Cross: list of advances on security of compensation claims, 1922-1926, FIN/1/655. National Library of Ireland, Senator James G Douglas papers 1898-c1979, MS 49,581.
Publication NoteFrancis M Carroll, The American Committee for Relief in Ireland, 1920-22, Irish Historical Studies, vol 23, no 89, May 1982, pp 30-49. Edward J Law, The enterprises of the Sharkey sisters, Strokestown, and their persecution during the War of Independence, Local History Review, 2012. Edward J Law, Harrassment and murder in the War of Independence: the Moran family's business in Enniscorthy, Journal of the Wexford Historical Society, no 24, 2013, pp 13-20.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteSurveyed by Paul Dobbs 1996; detailed descriptions by Edward J Law 2012; catalogue record by Ann Tierney 2015.
Rules/ConventionsIGAD: Irish Guidelines for Archival Description. Dublin: Society of Archivists, Ireland, 2009.
Date of Descriptions2015