That summer while Gray was in the United States for consultations, Marlin suggested that the Irish would likely provide the OSS with information from their diplomats in Germany, Italy and France. Carter Nicholas, the head of the Éire Desk at OSS Headquarters in Washington, visited Dublin with Marlin in September 1943 and asked Joe Walshe for such help.
After clearing the matter with the Taoiseach, Walshe read Nicholas and Marlin extracts from messages describing conditions in Germany, Italy, and France. He also agreed to send Marlin future reports of interest.
In the following weeks Marlin supplied questions for Walshe to ask the Irish representatives in Berlin, Rome and Vichy. Walshe then forwarded their replies to Marlin. In effect, Irish diplomats were being used as American spies.
While in the United States Gray met personally with President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He tried to persuade them to invite de Valera to join the Allies. He assured them the Taoiseach would refuse, but London and Washington were not taking any chance of Ireland coming in the war. They also rejected Gray’s suggestion that they ask for Irish bases, as the service chiefs were convinced those would only be a liability.
However, Gray did eventually persuade them to ask for the removal of Axis diplomats from Dublin. The OSS and British Intelligence were satisfied with Irish security, but went along somewhat reluctantly with Gray’s political ploy.
De Valera’s refusal was used in the Allied press to depict him as unsympathetic to the Allied cause. The whole thing was just a political stunt.
After the success of the D-Day landings, Marlin returned to the United States, and the OSS decided to station Edward Lawler in Dublin as liaison with Irish Intelligence.
“We received 100% co-operation from the Irish authorities,” Lawler wrote to me. “The cooperation and information we received from the Irish was every bit as extensive and helpful as it would have been if Ireland had been a full partner with us in the war effort.”
Thus all of the OSS agents in Ireland believed the Irish were fully cooperative with the Allies, but Gray claimed he had “better sources of information.” In his memoir, he argued that de Valera and Walshe secretly schemed for a German victory in the hope that Hitler would end partition.
Of course, he did have different sources. A strong believer in spiritualism, Gray was getting advice from supposed ghosts and he was passing this information on to the White House.
Shortly after arriving in Dublin, he wrote to Roosevelt about “the memories and the ghosts that are here” in his official residence in Phoenix Park, where the late British Prime Minister Arthur Balfour had lived as Chief Secretary of Ireland in the 1880s. Balfour had engaged in séances with the writing medium Geraldine Cummins, would go into a kind of trance and write out messages from supposed ghosts. She began holding séances in the residence for Gray.
On November 8, 1941 Balfour’s ghost supposedly warned Gray about Joe Walshe. “He, from what I can see, is hand and glove with the German Minister,” the message read. “The organization of Fifth Columnists in this country is now complete.” Walshe, the message added, “is the leading
At a further séance on December 2, 1941 Cummins produced a supposed message from the late President Theodore Roosevelt. “I want to tell you,” he supposedly wrote, “that I think Franklin will hold the Japs for a while; at any rate from our country’s point of view. I see no immediate Armageddon for young America, possibly not at all.”
This was the Tuesday before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, but Gray’s conviction that he was in touch with those ghosts was not shaken. “Four days after this communication,” Gray wrote to President Roosevelt, “the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor. They had T.R. fooled. I suspect that if these communications come through pretty much as given our friends on the other side don’t know very much more than they did on this side.”
Gray later spent years writing his memoir but then he suddenly abandoned it around 1960, because, he said, the ghost of Franklin D. Roosevelt had advised him forget it.
*T. Ryle Dwyer is author of Behind the Green Curtain: Ireland’s Phoney Neutrality During World War II, which is published in hardback and paperback by Gill & Macmillan.