A Yankee in de Valera's Ireland
The memoir of David Gray
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David Gray has a divided legacy in Ireland. Born in Buffalo, New York, he was a journalist and playwright before he became a diplomat. He took up the post of US Minister to Ireland in 1940 following appointment by his wife's relation Franklin D. Roosevelt. His memoir of that year, ‘Behind the Emerald Curtain’, has been published by the Royal Irish Academy for the first time, with insightful annotations and a long introduction by Professor Paul Bew. Politically, Gray was an Anglophile who opposed Irish neutrality and distrusted many aspects of his host country. His belligerence towards Irish people and his fractious relationship with Eamon de Valera make for an energetic narrative. This is important primary source documentation of neutral Ireland during the Second World War. Woven through Gray's personal accounts are diary extracts, letters exchanged with Roosevelt, secret telegrams and press clippings. Written when he was 89, 'Behind the Emerald Curtain' recalls in florid detail with a sharp comic eye the fishing, racing, Hunt balls and luncheons of the diplomatic life, making this a fine literary work in its own right.