Joseph Walshes initial involvement in Irish foreign affairs happened by chance. While on holiday in France in 1919, he met Seán T. OKelly who made a speculative offer to Walshe to join the cause of Irish nation building. Walshes subsequent diplomatic apprenticeship in Paris was short-lived as he was recalled to Ireland in 1922 when the Treaty split the country.
With only a short time as a diplomat behind him, Walshe accepted the responsibility for building the underdeveloped Irish diplomatic system, and suceeded in constructing a department with vast expertise in foreign policy formation. During the Second World War he was deeply involved in maintaining the state’s policy of friendly neutrality despite pressure from British and later American diplomats and politicians. Joseph Walshe’s book is a long-overdue and fascinating examination of the career of Ireland’s longest serving general secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs.
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