Centro Risorse Territoriale di Pesaro e Urbino

Éamon de Valera and Achille Starace

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«Who’s this Varela? (sic)»

«He’s the Irish President, your Excellency.»

«Ha, He’s an Englishman then, an enemy of ours, and why should I take him around?»

«No, your Excellency, he’s no Englishman. Ireland considers herself an independent state, often at loggerheads with England.»

«But I was told he speaks English.»

«Yes, your Excellency, Irishmen generally speak English, but I assure you they’re friends of ours.»

– Telephone conversation between Fascist Party secretary Achille Starace and Filippo Anfuso, the Foreign minister’s Chief of cabinet in “Mario Donosti (Mario Luciolli), Mussolini e l’Europa, Roma, 1945, p. 140-141”.

(In March 1939 Éamon de Valera, in Rome to attend the coronation of Pope Pius XII, was also greeted by Benito Mussolini. Achille Starace, notorious for his boorishness and lack of culture, was to accompany the Taoiseach to an exhibition.)

If the very man whose fame
Grew into a Cúchulainnesque myth
Had a judge fumble over his name
After a telegram from Asquith
If some had found a lot easier to call
Him Ed Develera or Eddie Coll
Why should ‘Varela’ be an instance
Of Achille Starace’s ignorance
And what had this boorish Fascista
To do with Taoiseach or Tánaiste
How could he construe the unceltic looks
The demeanour the reputation
Of one slated for the history books
Just back from the Pope’s Coronation
And about to start the progress from Rome
To the Talbot Lodge convalescent home?

Once in a while a timely firing squad deals
A trump card to Uachtarán and spailpín
Starace was shot in a gas station
In war-torn Milan and strung up by the heels
With the Duce whose puppet he had been

(Lamberto Bozzi, 8.3.2013)

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