Former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Richard Egan, who killed himself last weekend in his Boston apartment, was a deeply unhappy diplomat in Ireland.
Egan was suffering from stage four cancer of the lungs when he killed himself in his Boston home with a shotgun blast to the head.
Egan was essentially a shy man and did not mix in with the local Irish tradition of lots of parties and late nights. His wife was said to intensely dislike the damp climate.
One person who knew him at the time described him as like a deer in the headlights when approached to speak at public events. He lasted 15 months in the job.
Egan was also a rock ribbed Republican in a country that was deeply suspicious of President George W. Bush, the reaction to 9/11 not withstanding.
Just how loyal Egan was to the GOP came home to our sister publication Irish America magazine shortly after Egan returned to the U.S.
The magazine ran two pages for each candidate in the 2004 presidential election summing up the positions on Ireland of Bush and his challenger, Senator John Kerry.
Egan saw something to strongly disagree with even though the articles merely restated the two positions of the two candidates without any commentary.
Egan wrote an extraordinary letter to Irish America editor Patricia Harty, in essence threatening her for running the article that he saw as biased against Bush.
“I would like to point out the author’s distortions and obvious pro-Kerry bias,” Egan wrote, completely missing the point that the article merely reported verbatim what both candidates had sent.
“I’ll end this note by offering the suggestions that you better think twice before trying to influence American politics -- the Irish are not the only ones with long memories.”
Harty wrote right back, stating, ”As an American citizen I am disappointed that you end your letter with an implied threat that I ‘better think twice before trying to influence American politics.’ I’m sure I need not remind you of the First Amendment which in my opinion is one of the greatest freedoms ever given to any country.”