T St John Gaffney 1864 - 1945

st john Gaffney

gaffey recalled


progearman gaffney

Born in Limerick,1864. Son of Thomas Gaffney; married to Fannie (Smith) Humphreys. Republican. U.S. Consul General in Dresden, 1905-12; Munich, 1914. Irish ancestry. Member, Knights of Columbus. Burial location unknown.

St John Gaffney, American consul general at Munich. Germany, who was asked to resign from his post by direction of President Wilson as a result of complaints that he bad displayed partisanship in favor of Germany, will, it is reported, soon return to this country and go upon the lecture platform. - Mr. Gaffney has also been in charge of the British consulate at Munich. He was subjected to criticism because he entertained Sir Roger Casement at dinner. Mr. Gaffney is a naturalized American citizen and was born in Limerick. Ireland, in 1804. He came to this country at an early age, studied law and practiced for.some years in New York city. He became active in Republican politics and was appointed by President Roosevelt consul general to Dresden in 1905.

gaffney and Casement

1915 Aug 24 The "celebrated" Lunch in Munich at which Gaffney was the host and Casement a guest. Gaffey was later dismissed by the US governemnt as Consul because of this.

1915 Nov 16. Gaffney sails back to USA

1915 Dec 20. Xmas Day. Mrs. Gaffney (wife of Mr. Gaffney, U.S.A. Consul General at Munich) together with some American friends had sent the men a very generous present. Each man received a green satin bag tied with Irish and German colours, containing tobacco, cigarettes, chocolate, patent pipe lighter, Bavarian confectionery and other things, together with a small envelope containing a new silver mark.

1916 Feb 16. Casement with Gaffney in Munich

Under the strain of his failure to organize an Irish Brigade, Casement's health began to fail. In his diary he complained that he was "sick at heart and soul with mind and nerves threatening a complete collapse" His condition grew so alarming that St. John Gaffney was anxious to arrange some means of transporting Casement back to the United States. The details were left in the hands of a friend of Gaffney, a Norwegian of German descent named Shirmer. Shirmer was to go at once (February, 1916) to New York and get in touch with some of Casement's friends. Shirmer would take with him the documents in the Findlay case, which were to be turned over to Judge Daniel F. Cohalan for safekeeping.

1916 Mar 4. In February, 1916, Judge Cohalan, T. St. John Gaffney, and Jeremiah A. O'Leary issued a call for an Irish Race Convention which was held in New York on the 4th and 5th March, 1916. A permanent organisation was then formed. T. St. John Gaffney was appointed representative of the Friends of Irish Freedom for Europe. A bureau was established at Stockholm, whither Gaffney repaired, and from there and at Berlin maintained, along with George Chatterton-Hill, close relations between the German Government and the various Irish- American and Sinn Fein Organisations.

1916 Mar 18.Gaffney attended Holohan's funeral at Zossen. McDonagh wrote "Gaffney is a proud person who would not speak to a Private soldier. He thinks he knows very much. I saw him at Holohan's funeral, but he did not speak to me. "

1916 Apr 10. Casement dines with Gaffney

1916 Apr 11. Casement writes to von Wedel that he is leaving the Irish Brigade in Gaffney's care. He also wrote a letter to the Irish Brigade saying that he transferred their care to Gaffney. "Mr T St John Gaffney, is commissioned by Roger Casement to look after the the wants of the men in the Irish Brigade, during their stay in Germany". Interestingly, Keogh in his memoirs changes the words "Mr T St John Gaffney" to "Adjutant Lieutenant M S Boyle Keogh"

Casement also sends Gaffney Bailey's uniform "Keep it safe and sound and send them one day to Dublin"

I can find little evidence the Gaffney did much for the Irish Brigade after Casement left. His book "Breaking the Silence" includes chapters on Casement and Casement leaving the care of the men in Gaffney's hands, but after Casement's death there is no mention of the Irish Brigade in Gaffney's book. Gaffney returned to the USA briefly leaving Denmark on Aug 17 1916 and getting back to Germany about 25th Dec 1916

McDonagh wrote "After Casement left, the Brigade was handed over to Gaffney, but he never came near us. His interests were those of his pocket. He was suspected of embezzling money, but I do not know if this charge was true"

1916 May 11 Letter adressed to St John Gaffney from Pte H .Burke, Abt Irlander, Irische Brigade, Iruppenplatze,  Zossen

Honorable Sir, As I know your time is valuable I will come to the point at once by asking you to please send an electric iron for the use of the men. I am the tailor and my work is to look after the men's clothes. No matter how bad the clothes may be, when they are thoroughly pressed it makes a suit look a lot better. The sort of Iron I mean is one which can be connected to the electric light here in our barrack room by a wire or insulator.The battery of the usual electric Iron is generally exhausted in a few hours. I am, Yours Obediently, H.Burke, Private

1916 May 5. Forde writes to Gaffney telling him that he, Forde will write to Holohan's sister in the Lincoln, Nebraska, informing her of her brother's death.

1916 Jun. Rahilly writes The whole Brigade was on the eve of being shifted to a large prisoner of war camp, where we were to receive certain privileges and liberties not accorded to war prisoners. Our new chief, Mr. St John Gaffney, came to see us and sang a song. In fact we had a concert in a small way as a result of the visit of the American ex-consul for Munich. I saw him only once more, a short time before I left Germany.

1916 Jul 1. Zerhusen to Gaffeny reporting that 1 man has already found work, and a week later there are 10 men working

1916 Jul 9. Keogh writing to St John Gaffney dated from Danzig leads to The Honourable T St. John Gaffney. Dear Sir,  I wish to thank you for the Iron you so kindly sent to the Brigade Tailor and which I received safely yesterday also I wish to thank you for your photo given to me by gfrr Zerhausen. I regret to state that our position here instead of being improved. That is all that exists of the reply

1916 Jul 24. Hahn to Gaffney reporting that Burkes conduct gets worse day by day. "He seems to get mad"

1917 Jan 17. Danzig Camp Commandant meets Gaffney in Berlin. Gaffney sanctions removal of 10 men from Danzig-Troyl to a small camp in which only Russians are internted. It was decided to remove all privileges from these men till the end of the war.

1917 Jan 14. Hahn to St J Gaffney. Reports that there are 29 men in the camp and that he hopes to send the 8 men away soon. He mentions debts of Fulford, McCabe, P Carr and Long, and asks Gaffney to settle them directly with the Camp Commandant.

1917 Jan 30. Hahn to Gaffney. Talks about "problem" men

1917 Feb 2. Keogh to Gaffney. Keogh is asking for an advance on his wages. He is working at Gas Works in Dirshau with 3 other Irish Brigade men and altogether there are about 12 Brigade men in Dirshau at this time. It is very cold with snow and frost. Keogh comments that the 10 men on Hahns list for removala are all bad men. Keogh claims he has a wounded knee, sustained while at 7th cavalry Riding School, Fort Riley, Kansas. For the required operation Keogh needs 3 months pay

1917 Mar 12. Hahn to Gaffney. There are only about 30 men out at work, and there always seem to be about 24 in the camp. He records debts for Thomas McGrath, McMahon and Daly (sick for 6 weeks in hospital in Dirschau)

1917 May 29. Mahoney to Gaffney. Says that there are 14 Brigade men in Paper Factory near Stolp. They ask Gaffney to send them a concertina. Later the concertina arrives and they write to thank Gaffney for it. The factory is actually in a village outside Stolp, called Raths-Damnitz

About the same time Greer writes from the group at Stolp asking for a melodian. He says that there are 10 men there, they have been there a year and do not get into camp very often, so have to make their own entertainment.

1917 Jun 7. Quinlisk to Gaffney asking for money for an engagement ring. Gaffney declines and points out that POWs cannot get married. Quinlisk later writes that the girl has left him as he could not get her a ring as a token of his seriousness.

1917 Jun 20. A letter in Burkes hand and signed by him from Quasdow to The Honourable T St. John Gaffney. Sir, We Irishmen desire to know if you are aware of our position here! Properly speaking we have not unduly committed ourselves to deserve this treatment. The only conclusion we can arrive at after studying the matter carefully is that we are sent here at the instigation of some of the Irish NCO'S in Danzig.Troyle. These men are largely responsible for other men misconducting themselves. When the NCO's in question steal parcels on their comrades who are out working is it any wonder that other men should try to expose the matter. Also when the same NCO's bring in bread and lager and sell it to the Russians for 6 to 7  per loaf. There are men here who are at present under going punishment for practically nothing at all. The writer of this letter was in the foregoing year basely convicted and punished though not tried of a charge of which I am innocent.

It has grown a habit in Danzig for punishment without any explanation as to why they are being punished. The men on joining the Irish Brigade were given to understand that they would in every respect be treated in the same manner as German soldiers. If our original and courageous leader Sir Roger Casement were alive today he would not fail to see that that understanding was adhered to. We receive the same food as the Russian prisoners. Excellent treatment indeed for Irishmen from our German friends. We request that you take the matter in hand in order to have us" Verpflight" in the same manner as our German guard.this all the more reasonable as we are engaged  daily on heavy work. The rate of pay was ordered to be 30 pfg per day but our employer considered this a very poor remuneration for the amount of labour done and of his own free will offered to pay 1/- per day.We trust that you will give this letter your kind attention.We beg to Remain, Yours etc. H.Burke, G Fulford, T Mc Mahon, G Mc Cabe, Patrick Keogh, Thomas Mc Grath, P Carr

1917 Spring. A letter from O'Toole to Gaffney at this time, in which O'Toole accused Keogh of living with a married woman in Dirschau - a Frau Rumekewitz. She apparently claims that Keogh beats her, was perpetually drunk, and stole her money, and for good measure stole her overcoat when he eventually left her. O'Toole goes on to state. There are some Irishmen suffering horrors in a punishment camp at Quasdow who have never done half so much hidden harm. By the way these men at Quasdow are suffering through some of this underhand little battle accusations. Some of them are hopeless blaguards but not all. They have all been punished for each offence as it was committed but not in addition should they have to undergo months long imprisonment of a type worse than being sent to a Festung. 20 times worse for in a Festung they could look forward to it being over at a certain date but not so at Quasdow. I basically agreed with the removal of some men to a different camp that would have been a good arrangement for everybody but I disassociate myself from sending them to such a place of torment as Quasdow has proved to be. I think a man should not be punished twice for one offence and such punishment - starvation, underground dwelling bugs and worst of all hopelessness. Most of them are Irishmen and I am sorry to say it is Irishmen who sent them to that Hell on Earth. I know what I am talking about as there are 4 men here who have been released namely Ryan, Callaghan, Sweeney, and Burke. I saw them the 1st morning of their release - they were the picture of misery & weak as cats. I believe you signed the order for their removal from Troyal. Its a pity you didn't make yourself acquainted with the nature of the charge. I am certain you would never have sanctioned it. When poor Sir Roger found we were put into Wiensdorf Lager with the coloured prisoners of war he left no stone unturned until he forced the German Authorities to take us out of it. I say forced advisedly but Sir Roger visited us regularly & kept well in touch with us. We have not had a visit from you since some time before we left Zossen. Weren't very well treated at Zossen & I objected to the removal - now everyone of us knows it was a ghastly mistake.

1917 Jun 23, Gaffney arrives in Stockholm from Berlin to urge the Dutch Scandanavian delegation to consider the question of Irish independence.

1917 Jul O'Toole writes to Gaffney complaining that he has not been paid for 6 months

1918 Mar 17. Some of the NCOs were invited to the St Patrick's Day dinner in Berlin of the German-Irish Society at the Hotel Adlon. In the event only Dowling attended. Gaffney was one of the organisers

1917 Mar 18. Hahn tells Gaffney that he has advanced Keogh 4 months pay on Keogh's insistance, but Hahn says he will not advance Keogh more money without written approval of Gaffney each time.

1917 Jul 6. Keogh writes to Gaffney from Hotel Alte Post in Limburg, explaining his presence in Limburg

1917 Aug 3. O'Toole to Gaffney. Writing from Stolp, he thanks Gaffney for the harmonica. Greer has been playing it for them, but now Greer has had an accident, when a drill he was working with slipped and tore the flesh between his 3rd and little finger, and they will now have to wait for it to heal. . The letter refers to a German Lt Hegart during their time at Zossen

1917 Aug 17. Daly writes to Gaffney asking for a pair of boots.

1917 Aug 22. Quinlisk writes to Gaffney asking if Gaffney can send him a old suit that he might have.

1917 Aug 24. Hahn writes to Gaffney. Keogh got 8 days punishment, suspended if his behaviour is good.

1917 Oct 26 Wurtz in Personnell Section of German War Office tells Gaffney that they approve the transfer of some men to the estate of Countess von Byland in Bavaria

1917 Oct 24. Hahn to Gaffney. 8 "bad" men are to be removed to a "prisoner's camp". Only 8 men were left at Danzig-Troyal camp at this date.

1917 Nov 4. Hahn informs Gaffney that 10 men are to be sent to VI Corps in Breslau. And in addition Hahn had written to a Mr Fischer in Munich about the employment of 6 men.

1918 Apr 8. Hahn to Gaffney. Because a few of the men at Dirschau have behaved badly, all 16 men there have been put under special control

1918 May 1. Zerhusen tells Gaffney that he heard from Kavanagh that Keogh was behaving badly, had been drunk, misbehaved in Dresden, and that Keogh had misappropriated the St Patricks Day funds from the previous year that Gaffney had sent the Brigade In addition there were 7 men from the Brigade in Neuhammer a/Queis in Silesia for punishment

1918 May 20. Zerhusen writes to Gaffney about problems

1918 May 29 Kavanagh writes to Gaffney, wanting to discuss Brigade affairs with him in Munich

1918 Jun 10. Keogh to Gaffney, suggesting that the whole Brigade is transferred to Bavaria. That 30 men chosen by Hahn, Kavanagh and Keogh are employed as an active unit in the Bavarian Army. And that 10 men are removed and sent to work in a factory

1918 Nov 7. Gaffney gets a letter from a group in the Brigade, who denounce Gaffney and Chatterton Hill as not being "true Irishmen". The letter is signed by Keogh, Kavanagh, Forde, Mallon. Delamore, Carroll, Collins, Wilson, Daly, P. McGrath

1918 Nov 12. O'Toole tells Gaffney that Keogh and Kavanagh want to get Gaffney replaced by Hansen, a German-American, as their "leader". He adds that Chatterton Hill refuses to have anything to do with the Brigade.

1918 Nov 20. Keogh claims to have gone to Gaffney's villa at Munich with a "delegation of 4 Irishmen" (whom I take to be Irish Brigade menmbers plus Dr Charles Curry. Keogh says that Gaffney refused to help them and that a few days later Gaffney crossed the frontier into Switzerland. This is at odds with Rahilly saying he met Gaffney in Munich in Feb 1919, and Gaffney's own writings that also quote early 1919 for his eventual exit to Switzerland - he had no passport in November or December 1918.

1919 Feb.Rahilly's first task in Munich was to visit Mr St.John Gaffney. He wanted to know whether the Germans would honour Article 9 of Casements accord with Germany, which guaranteed the Irish Brigade men transport to the USA if Germany lost the war. Rahilly reasoned that it would be safer for the Irish Brigade men to get back to Ireland via the USA than by posing as genuine returning POWs and having to land in England. However Gaffney told him that Article 9 would not be honoured by Germany. Rahilly and the others in the Irish Brigade were running out of money, and could not afford to travel back via neutral countries. So the only option on getting back to Ireland was to return as POWs and hope for the best.

When I knocked at his door, the Chevalier himself open it and invited me into this sitting room on the ground floor. I pleaded for the men. Surely, I told him, with his influence Article Nine of the Casement–Zimmermann Agreement could be put into effect, and so get us all shipped to the U.S.A....The Chevalier was sympathetic, but every member of Government Herr Tomas and myself visited was also sympathetic. Like those other officials too, Mr. St. John Gaffney shrugged his shoulders; and the words they used in German he translated into English; "What can I do? You know the English are here, the men must look out for themselves."

1919 Gaffney left Germany for Switzerland. He had no passport, and the US government were not keen to let him have a new one. Much of his time revolved round trying to get a passport, in order to travel back to USA.

1930 he published "Breaking the silence"

1945. Gaffney is given as dying but I cannot get further details.

Irish Brigade