Spying on Ireland: British Intelligence and Irish Neutrality during the Second World War

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Irish neutrality during the Second World War presented Britain with significant challenges to its security. Exploring how British agencies identified and addressed these problems, this book reveals how Britain simultaneously planned sabotage in and spied on Ireland, and at times sought to damage the neutral state's reputation internationally through black propaganda operations. It analyses the extent of British knowledge of Axis and other diplomatic missions in Ireland, and shows the crucial role of diplomatic code-breaking in shaping British policy. The book also underlines just how much Ireland both interested and irritated Churchill throughout the war.

Drawing heavily on British and American intelligence records, many disclosed here for the first time, Eunan O'Halpin presents the first country study of British intelligence to describe and analyse the impact of all the secret agencies during the war. He casts fresh light on British activities in Ireland, and on the significance of both espionage and cooperation between intelligence agencies for developing wider relations between the two countries.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'A groundbreaking study that deserves to be read by anyone with a serious interest in Britain's wartime intelligence community and the history of Anglo-Irish relations.' — Times Literary Supplement

'Spying on Ireland will be welcomed by specialists, who will appreciate its careful attention to the previously hidden details of espionage in the realm of weapons-related technology.' — Mary Elise Sarotte, Central European History

"A masterful and thoroughly researched study of British intelligence during World War II." —The Historian

"O'Halpin addresses his topic with such careful detail that readers will finish the book with a very clear of Anglo-Irish wartime relations—perhaps the clearest that has been written thus far."—Robert Cole, History: Reviews of New Books

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199253296
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 6/2/2008
  • Pages: 380
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Eunan O'Halpin is the Bank of Ireland Chair of Contemporary History at Trinity College, Dublin.

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Table of Contents

List of tables xvi

Abbreviations and acronyms xvii

Biographical notes of key figures xx

1 Britain's Irish security problem, 1922-1939 1

2 Phoney war, phoney spies: September 1939-April 1940 46

3 Invasion fears: May 1940-June 1941 88

4 From Barbarossa to Torch: July 1941-December 1942 163

5 Preparation for Overlord: January-December 1943 215

6 Anomalous, benighted backwater: January 1944 to the late 1940s 247

Conclusion 300

Bibliography 306

Index 317

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