Franco-Irish military connections, 1590–1945

Nathalie Genet-Rouffiac & David Murphy, editors

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ISBN: 978-1-84682-198-1
August 2009. 304pp.

‘Offers revealing new or additional perspectives on Franco-Irish military relations … Hugh Gough’s brilliant pithy dissection of French military strategy with respect to Ireland in the 1790s ought to be read by everyone interested in the history of the United Irishmen and Franco-Irish relations … Each of these essays is informative and worthwhile', James Kelly, Irish Economic and Social History (2011).

‘For generations there has been a lively interest in both French and Irish scholarly circles in military connections between the two countries … As Drs Genet-Rouffiac and Murphy emphasize in their introduction, the study of Franco–Irish military connections is important since for many Irish people, it was military service that first brought them to France and, from the late 1600s, “it was through military service that Irish soldiers and their families established themselves in France and this military service facilitated their activities and integration into French society” (p. 13) … Broadly speaking, the essays address three major themes: firstly, the history of Irish soldiers’ involvement in the French army since 1590; secondly, the interest shown by French governments in Irish affairs and how this reflected French strategic plans; and lastly, the creation of Irish identity through Irish men and women’s war service abroad … David Murphy presents a fascinating, original study of the clandestine and hitherto unknown experiences of over twenty Irish-born men and women involved in the French Resistance, the Free French Forces and the F section of the Special Operations Executive during the period 1940–45 … As the majority of the essays in this collection clearly demonstrate, the rewards for researchers who engage in systematic and in-depth mining of the rich archival collections held in French repositories in particular are great in terms of the fresh insights into Franco–Irish connections that can be uncovered, thereby deepening our understanding of the evolving nature of those connections. For this, the contributors, editors and Four Courts Press who have produced this handsome and significant volume deserve to be congratulated', Mary Ann Lyons, H-France review (2011).

‘There are handsome spoils buried in this dense and occasionally dry volume…based on a conference held at Château de Vincennes in Paris in 2007, the book brings together research by Irish and French academics. Samuel Beckett makes an appearance in David Murphy’s final instalment. The playwright was one of at least 20 Irish active in the French resistance, and though the writer downplayed his role, Murphy contends he took considerable risks carrying reports to a man known to him only as “Jimmy the Greek”. Doubtless he was occasionally stood up, and one can imagine Beckett waiting, Vladimir and Estragon-like, on a dimly lit Parisian street corner to hand over his illicit literature', Niall Toner, Sunday Times (August 2009).

‘The French and Irish historians in this book chart the relations between the two countries from the earliest involvement of Irishmen in French wars right up to the Irish who served with the Resistance and the SOE in the second world war … This is a useful book for anyone interested in Irish military history or Franco-Irish relations and valuable for providing chapters on lesser known aspects of that history such as Napoleon’s Irish Legion and the Irish in world war 2', Books Ireland (September 2009).

‘[There are] many gripping mini-biographies in the fourteen essays of this beautifully produced book. It is elegantly prefaced by Pierrre Joannon, [the] Honorary Consul in the south of France', Caitríona MacKernan, Books Ireland (April 2010).