Thursday, January 20, 2022

Strand House and The Treaty - Story of a Photograph

Back Row L to R: Mary Rynne, Michael Rynne, Eamon De Valera,
Richard Mulcahy
Front Row L to R: Stephen O'Meara, Cathal Brugha.
Rynne Family Archive, NUI Galway Library Archives

The Strand Hotel in Limerick city, near the river Shannon, was the site of a significant moment at the heart of the Treaty negotiations of 1921. Then known as Strand House, home of the O’Meara's, a prominent political and business family in the city, a photograph was taken of a group of visitors to the house who would all play prominent roles in the lead up to and in the aftermath of the signing of the Treaty in December 1921.

As the Treaty negotiations were drawing to a close, and on the night the Treaty was being signed in London, Eamon De Valera was at Strand House in Limerick. Along with De Valera, Richard Mulcahy and Cathal Brugha also stayed at Strand House on the night of the 5th  and 6th of December as guests of Stephen O’Meara and family.

A phone call from the Irish delegation in London reached Strand House so as to inform De Valera on the outcome of the negotiations. The phone call updated De Valera that the Treaty had been signed in London in the early hours of 6th December 1921.

The photograph is included as part of the recently opened “The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives” exhibition, located at Dublin Castle and led by the National Archives of Ireland. The photograph is part of the Rynne Family archive at NUI Galway Library Archives. Comprising records of various members of the family, including playwright Mary Rynne, diplomat Michael Rynne, and later archaeologist and professor at NUI Galway, Etienne Rynne (grandson of Michael Rynne).

Michael Rynne (1899–1981) was a legal scholar, civil servant and diplomat. He was born on 12 September 1899 in Hampshire, England, before moving to Limerick in 1907. He studied at University College Dublin before joining the Volunteers in 1917. In 1921, Rynne was in charge of the flying column of Blessington, Co. Wicklow. He later served as ADC to Richard Mulcahy. A close associate of Michael Collins, Rynne was later appointed officer in charge of the military training camp at Dunboyne, Co. Meath, of which detailed records of training and drilling regimes devised by Rynne are present within his papers.

Rynne received his doctorate in legal studies from the University of Munich in 1929. In 1936, he was appointed legal advisor to the Department of External Affairs, soon becoming head of the department's League of Nations section from 1936 to 1940, part of a small group of close advisors to Eamon De Valera. In 1955, Rynne was appointed Irish Ambassador to Spain, before later retiring from the civil service in 1961. Rynne died in Dublin on the 8th February 1981.

For the full catalogue of papers from the Rynne Family Archive, including the Michael Rynne papers, click on this link

For more information on “The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archive” exhibition see the National Archives for details.

Michael Rynne
Rynne Family Archive, NUI Galway Library Archives