Britain’s debt to Ireland over the Irish College

Britain’s debt to Ireland over the Irish College The Irish College in Paris.

Echoes of the past from the Archives

The Irish College in Paris and its sad condition came to the fore at this time. Today, the institution flourishes, thanks largely to agreement between the governments of Ireland and France. A bulging file is released detailing some of the comings and goings over this then contentious matter – the college had become a hostel for Polish students with no Irish connections at all.

Among all the formal discussions, there was one small contribution by Mary Purcell, the Catholic author. She observed that, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, it was agreed by the new French regime that compensation would be paid for various losses during the Revolution and after.

One payment related to the Irish College, which the French duly settled through the British government of the day. But the compensation, she alleged, had never been passed on to the Irish hierarchy in whose name it was claimed.

Instead, so Mary Purcell believed, the money was spent partly on funding the coronation of George IV in July 1821, shortly before his notorious visit to Dublin which saw the erection of the Round Room at the Mansion House for his reception.

Mary Purcell, with all the zeal of a true Irish patriot, felt it was time the monies were paid over. But her plea was buried away. Nothing was done. In 1978 there were more pressing matters troubling the two governments aside from an unpaid debt.