In another thread the subject of Mussolini and Irish Republicans was brought up, someone mentioned that Ernie O'Malley had a picture of Mussolini in his cell in Mountjoy in 1923.
By pure chance today I came across the Witness Statement of Maire Ni Bhrian today, a Cumman na mBan activists who attended the Red Cross convention in Geneva in 1921.
Shortly afterwards she managed to get an interview with Mussolini in Rome.
Also topical given the current debates in Spain over Catalan Independence, she was in Barcelona in 1920, distributing Republican propaganda such as the Irish Bulletin.Mussolini seemed quite familiar with the situation in Ireland and began firing off rapid questions to which he expected equally rapid answers. The interview was conducted entirely in French, a language Mussolini spoke with great fluency. He asked me to arrange for a member of the Republican government to go out to Rome to see him but that whoever went should exercise the greatest caution, as 'there is a spy on every step of my stairs'. I duly sent the message home but I do not know what happened.
And there's more on her activities throughout Europe. You can read the whole thing at;In Barcelona and in Catalonia generally there was great sympathy for Ireland and when Terence [MacSwiney] died [on hunger strike] the papers were full of articles about him and masses were offered for him i Churches which were crowded to the door. the University students and shop assistants all wore green ribbon in their button holes. There wwas a huge meeting in a beautiful club hall of shop assistants, with the tricolour at the end of the hall facing the platform. I was called on by the President to make a speech which I did in French as I did not know Catalan sufficiently well and the President was kind enough to translate it for me into that language. The Catalans always cherish their desire for separation from Spain and their desire for independence is a common bond of sympathy between them and us.
All the speeches were in praise of Ireland and expressed sympathy for our objects in our fight for freedom. The ladies of Catalonia dressed with the greatest care and artistic finish a beautiful doll in the Catalan costume and sent it Terence MacSwiney's widow for their little daughter.Similarly when Kevin Barry was executed the students of Barcelona University had mass celebrated for him in one of the biggest churches there and had a wreath made with specially waxed flowers that would remain fresh until it arrived at his grave in Dublin.