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‘The great war correspondent’:1 Francis McCullagh, 1874–1956

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 March 2016

John Horgan*
School of Communications, Dublin City University


Trotsky of Russia knows Francis McCullagh. So does President Calles of Mexico. Peter, the King of Serbia, was McCullagh’s friend. The headhunters of the upper Amazon list Francis McCullagh as one of their principal deities. The warring tribes of Morocco call him blood brother. A room is always ready for him in the imperial palace of Siam. The latchstrings of hundreds of Siberian peasant huts are out in anticipation of his coming.

Research Article
Copyright © Irish Historical Studies Publications Ltd 2009

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Wilfrid Parsons S.J., Mexican martyrdom (New York, 2003), p. 59; this is a facsimile reprint, and I have been unable to trace the bibliographic information relating to its first publication, which I assume was some time in the 1920s.


2 Tyrone Constitution, 9 Dec. 1927.

3 Foley, Michael, ‘James David Bourchier: an Irish journalist in the Balkans’ in Irish Communications Review, x (2007), pp 5764.Google Scholar

4 Dillon’s papers are in the National Library of Scotland (Acc. 12382).

5 ‘Irishmen who have made Russian history’ in Derry Journal, 9 Nov. 1936. The ‘academic authority’ was Sir Bernard Pares.

6 Ulster Herald, 1 Dec. 1956.

7 McCullagh, Francis, ‘The Baltic states from an Irish point of view’ in Studies, xi (Mar. 1922), p. 29.Google Scholar

8 Ibid., p. 20.

9 Information from Christian Brothers archivist, Omagh, Co. Tyrone.

10 Obituary of McCullagh (The Times, 3 Dec. 1956).

11 ‘Onlookerș in Derry Jn., reprinted in Ulster Herald, 29 Dec. 1956.

12 Callanan, Frank, T. M. Healy (Dublin, 1996), p. 232.Google Scholar

13 Gaffney, Gertrude, ‘Francis McCullagh’ in Capuchin Annual (1935), p. 20.Google Scholar

14 Ibid.

15 Ulster Herald, 1 Dec. 1956.

16 Tyrone Constitution, 7 Dec. 1956.

17 McCullagh to editor in Ave Maria, 18 Jan. 1900 (University of Notre Dame Archives, Hudson papers, x-4-c).

18 Tyrone Constitution, 9 Dec. 1927.

19 McCullagh to editor in Ave Maria, 18 Jan. 1900 (University of Notre Dame Archives, Hudson papers, x-4-c).

20 McCullagh, Francis, ‘The story-teller in Japan’ in East of Asia Magazine, no. 1 (1902), pp 207-20.Google Scholar

21 McCullagh, Francis, With the Cossacks: being the story of an Irishman who rode with the Cossacks throughout the Russo-Japanese War (London, 1906), p. 3.Google Scholar

22 McCullagh described Novi Kraï as ‘a Russian tri-weekly paper supposed to be the organ of Admiral Alexeieff’. Ibid., p. 15.

23 Ibid.

24 For example, Crisis in Russia 1920 (London, 1921).

25 McCullagh, With the Cossacks, p. 16.

26 [Gertrude Gaffney], G. G., ‘Leaves from a woman’s notebook’ in Irish Independent, 6 Nov. 1936.Google Scholar

27 Ibid. See also for some support for this thesis (citing McCullagh), Towle, P. A., ‘Japanese treatment of prisoners in 1904—1905: foreign officers‘reports’ in Military Affairs, xxxix (1975), pp 115-18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

28 McCullagh, With the Cossacks, p. 376.

29 Ibid., p. 392.

30 Ernest Morrison papers (1905), State Library, New South Wales, (49) 381–7, (50) 293–304.

31 Wilkinson, G. R., ‘“The blessings of war”: the depiction of military force in Edwardian newspapers’ in Journal of Contemporary History, xxxiii (1998), pp 97115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

32 Ibid., p. 112.

33 Ibid.

34 Brief biographical sketch in Washington Post, 18 Jan. 1925.

35 Interview with McCullagh in Tyrone Constitution, 9 Dec. 1927.

36 New York Times, 8 July 1908.

37 Ibid., 14 May 1909.

38 McCuUagh, Francis, The fall of Abd-Ul-Hamid (London, 1910).Google Scholar

39 Ibid., p. ix.

40 Ibid., p. 136.

41 American Historical Review, xvi (1910), p. 204.

42 Ramsay, Allan, Tales from Turkey (London & New York, 1915) (foreword by McCullagh).Google Scholar

43 McCullagh to Whitehead (British envoy in Belgrade), 5 Apr. 1909 (T.N.A. P.R.O., FO 372/127).

44 McCullagh, Francis, Italy's war for a desert: being some experiences of a war correspondent with the Italians in Tripoli (London, 1912).Google Scholar

45 Ibid., p. 15.

46 Ibid., p. 392.

47 Ibid., p. xxiii.

48 McCuUagh, Francis, Syndicates for war: the influence of the makers of war material and of capital invested in war supplies (Boston, 1911).Google Scholar

49 See for instance Van Wert Daily Bulletin, 23 Nov. 1912.

50 Account of lecture at R.D.S. by Sir Bernard Pares (Derry Jn., 9 Nov. 1936).

51 Gaffney, Leaves, p. 22.

52 T.N.A. P.R.O., WO 339/21565, from which all references in this section are drawn, unless otherwise specified.

53 Gaffney, Leaves, p. 24.

54 Service note , 4 May 1918 (T.N.A. P.R.O., WO 339/21565)

55 Note to M.I.6, C, from Major Kerry, 3 June 1918 (ibid.).

56 Siberian log of Sir Bernard Pares (University of London, School of Slavonic and East European Studies (henceforth S.E.E.S.), PAR 6/9/1). Extracts from McCullagh’s correspondence cited below are from PAR 6/9/2.

57 Pares’s Siberian log., 4 Mar. 1919 (ibid., PAR 6/9/1).

58 S.E.E.S., PAR 6/9/2.

59 Ibid.

60 McCullagh to Pares, 4 July 1919 (ibid., PAR 6/9/2)

61 McCullagh to Pares, 31 July 1919 (ibid.).

62 McCullagh to Pares, 1 Sept. 1919 (ibid.).

63 Voluntary statement by Capt. McCullagh, 8 June 1920 (T.N.A. P.R.O., WO 339/21565).

64 Report by Capt. F. McCullagh, B.M.M. Siberia, written in Finland, 22 Apr. 1920 (ibid., WO 106/1279). Other non-sourced quotations in this section are all from this document.

65 McCullagh, Francis, A prisoner of the Reds (London, 1922), p. 119.Google Scholar

66 Ibid., p. 148.

67 Ibid., p. 152.

68 Ibid., p. 249.

69 Ibid., p. 269.

70 29 July 1920 (T.N.A. P.R.O., WO 339/21565).

71 18 Oct. 1920 (ibid.).

72 Cf. for example Iowa Daily News, 20 Oct. 1920, which published extracts from his article in Nineteenth Century and After.

73 Nevada State Journal, 31 Aug. 1920.

74 Ibid.

75 Oakland Tribune, 8 Dec. 1920. ‘Lenine’ was a popular spelling of the Russian leader’s name in Western media because of the phonology of the last syllable; it was later standardised as ‘Lenin’.

76 Stopes, Lee, ‘The Lee Side of LA’ in Los Angeles Times, 2 Dec. 1937.Google Scholar

77 His hostile characterisations of ‘the Bolshevik Ishmaels’ in his book, The Bolshevik persecution of Christianity (London, 1924), pp 11, 146–7, are fairly typical examples of the casual elision between Bolshevism and Judaism.

78 Ibid., p. 277.

79 The Unified State Political Directorate, and successor to the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission (for combating Counterrevolution, Sabotage and Speculation)). From February 1922 until November 1923 it was known as the G.P.U.

80 McCullagh, Bolshevik persecution, pp 277–8.

81 Daily Counsellor, 13 Apr. 1923.

82 Washington Post, 11 Apr. 1923.

83 McCullagh, Bolshevik persecution.

84 McCullagh, Prisoner of the Reds, p. ix.

85 Washington Post, 18 Jan. 1925

86 New York Times, 17 Mar. 1926.

87 Ibid.

88 Francis McCullagh, ‘Calles’ government likened to Soviet: Communistic policies called menace to peace of America, ultimate ruin seen’ (5 Jan. 1928); ‘Mexican land law works wide injury: administration a record of despoliation and graft with American farmer worst sufferer‘ (6 Jan. 1928); ‘Mexican policies drive natives out: failure of the Calles agrarian law proved as thousands of own people flee to U.S.’ (7 Jan. 1928); ‘Stamp of Calles put on education: administration called blight on child training and religious liberty - charities looted’ (9 Jan. 1928); ‘Calles terrorizes political victims: opponents of policies buried in subterranean dungeons like Moscow’s famous Lubyanka’ (11 Jan. 1928); ‘Oppression marks Mexican “justice”: crushing of political foes by ruthless tactics is shown in series of incidents’ (28 Jan. 1928): all articles from Wall Street Journal on dates noted.

89 McCullagh, Francis, Red Mexico: a reign of terror in America (New York, Montreal & London, 1928).Google Scholar

90 For example, Gruening, Ernest, ‘Red rubbish’ in The Nation, cxxviii, no. 3316 (23 Jan. 1929), pp 110-11.Google Scholar

91 McCullagh, Francis, ‘Notes on linguistic studies in Paris’ in Studies, xvii (1929), pp 223-41.Google Scholar

92 McCullagh, Francis, In Franco’s Spain (London, 1937), p. 13.Google Scholar

93 Ibid., p. xxii.

94 McGarry, Fearghal, Irish politics and the Spanish Civil War (Cork, 1999), p. 167.Google Scholar

95 Ibid., p. 166.

96 Irish Independent, 16 Oct. 1936.

97 Ibid.

98 Irish Independent, 2–8 Jan. 1937. See also McGuffin, John and Mulheron, Joseph, Charles ‘Nomad’ McGuinness: being a true account of the amazing adventures of a Derryman (Derry, 2002)Google Scholar; McGuinness, Charles, Nomad: memoirs of an Irish sailor, soldier, pearl-fisher, pirate, gun-runner, rum-runner, rebel and Antarctic explorer (London, 1934).Google Scholar

99 Bell, J. Bowyer, ‘Ireland and the Spanish Civil War, 1936–39’ in Studia Hib., ix (1969), pp 137-63Google Scholar. See also McGuffin & Mulheron, ‘Nomad’McGuinness.

100 McCullagh, In Franco's Spain, p. 321.

101 Ibid.

102 Ibid., p. 230.

103 Ibid., p. 237.

104 McGarry, Politics & the Spanish Civil War, p. 43.

105 Stradling, R. A., ‘Battleground of reputations: Ireland and the Spanish Civil War’ in Preston, Paul and Mackenzie, A. L. (eds), The republic besieged: civil war in Spain, 1936–1939 (Edinburgh, 1996), pp 107-32.Google Scholar

106 McCullagh to Bp Mageean, 3 Apr. 1937 (Down and Connor Diocesan Archive, Magean papers, EP 5/2/37) quoted in McGarry, Fearghal, ‘Irish newspapers and the Spanish Civil War’ in I.H.S., xxiii, no. 129 (May 2002), p. 79.Google Scholar

107 McCauley, consul-general, New York, to Joseph Walshe, 18 Apr. 1940 (N.A.I., DFA 254/63).

108 McCullagh to McCauley, 21 Jan. 1952 (ibid.).

109 Derry Jn., 28 Nov. 1956; Londonderry Sentinel, 29 Nov. 1956; Tyrone Constitution, 1 Dec. 1956; Ulster Herald, 1 Dec. 1956.

110 The Times, 3 Dec. 1956.

111 New York Times, 26 Nov. 1956.

112 Irish Independent, 28 Nov. 1956.

113 For example Horn, J. J., ‘U. S. Diplomacy and “the specter of Bolshevism” in Mexico (1924-1927)’ in The Americas, xxxii (1975), pp 3145CrossRefGoogle Scholar; McArthur, Ian, ‘Mediating modernity: Henry Black and mediated hybridity in Meiji Japan’ (Ph.D. thesis, Univ. of Sydney, 2002)Google Scholar; Lewis, Bernard, A Middle East mosaic: fragments of life, letters and history (New York, 2000)Google Scholar; Tanner, Marcus, Ireland’s holy wars: the struggle for a nation’s soul, 1500–2000 (Yale, 2001).Google Scholar

114 I am grateful to a number of people for help in carrying out my research, including Dr Eamon Martin, president of St Columb‘s College, Derry; the late Benedict Kiely; Stephen McKenna and Jackie McGale of Omagh; Karen Johnson, archivist to the Christian Brothers; Aedin Clements, University of Notre Dame; and Dr John Logan, University of Limerick. My interest in McCullagh was first kindled by a tantalisingly brief reference to him in Fearghal McGarry’s seminal study, Duffy, Eoin O’a self-made hero (Oxford, 2005).Google Scholar

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