Helmut E. Clissmann - An Appreciation
Helmut was born in Aachen in 1911.
Even before leaving school he had joined a young
socialist movement with specific interests in revolutionary
movements at home and abroad.
On a private visit to Dublin he made contact with the
republican paper "An Phoblacht" and its editors Frank Ryan
and Peadar O'Donnell.
The following year he led a group of his movement to Ireland
and extended his friendship with traditionalist groups and
At this time he was attending University in Germany and
applied to become an exchange student in Trinity College and
studied history under Prof.
He became more and more interested in Irish Nationalism and
developed his friendship with many nationalists countrywide,
including Sen McBride and Tom Barry.
He later returned to the staff of Trinity as a guest
lecturer in the German Department.
He was appointed by the German Exchange Service to extend
exchanges of student lectures, authors, musicians, etc.
The Goethe Institute, Munich, also appointed him as a
teacher of German and he held classes for several years in
His links with Ireland were then strengthened by his
marriage to Budge Mulcahy.
Then came the war and, having being recalled to Germany in
error, he was appointed as Exchange Representative in
He was called up to the Germany army in 1940 and served in
the Brandenburger Regiment, which gave him an opportunity,
with friends, to manipulate the release to Germany of Frank
Ryan from his Spanish prison.
He served in North Africa, in France and in Denmark
and, for two years, was seconded to the Foreign Office in
Berlin to deal with Irish affairs.
During his war service he did his best to serve Irish
interests as well as German - but this is history.
After three years internment he returned to his family in
Following his two loves, he built a business in Dublin,
which connected Ireland with Germany and worked also at
building the cultural links between them.
Many friendships grew from his business contacts.
He became a founder member of the Irish German Society and
was for many years on the committee.
This led to the foundation of the German School where
he had the happiness recently of seeing eight of his
grandchildren concurrently enrolled.
Helmut became an early member of the Irish Section of
He strongly supported the principals of non-violence
and freedom of thought.
He remained involved with Amnesty's work until his
work was carried on with his close friends Sen McBride and
Kevin White and many others.
After his stroke in 1987, he gave up his business life and
devoted himself more and more to his family and his garden.
He was happily able to visit his beloved Aachen every
year where he still had many family and regimental friends.
On his retirement, his firm was well established and his
sons have carried on his tradition in business life in
Although his love of Germany never diminished, he was happy
to see that his family had become established as an Irish
family - an Irish family still continuing its links with
Germany and German culture.
The unexpected re-unification of his country gave him great
pleasure and it was his fervent wish that a happy solution
could also be found for Irish divisions.
See also the Irish Times article November 8th 1997