Francis ‘walked with kings but never lost the common touch’

Modest Diplomat who had glittering career fell in love with Roscommon

On New Year’s Eve, Francis De Tarr passed away in Paris aged 90 years. Many Roscommon Town and Fourmilehouse folk will have fond memories of Francis who purchased a property here and visited here for extended periods over the last almost 30 years.

  What many may not know was that Francis was an American Diplomat of huge distinction, serving in Italy, Vietnam, Morocco, Belgium, France and elsewhere. He was also a noted Historian having written many political biographies in particular, which received widespread acclaim.

  Such were his services both to diplomacy and to history, that he was awarded the highest honour that France can bestow and became a Chevalier De La Legion D’Honeur.

  The story of Francis’ life was an amazing story. He served with the United States Army Air Force. He counted the Aviator and Explorer Charles Lindbergh a good friend and indeed Mr. Lindbergh was godfather to Francis’ son Charles, called after Mr. Lindbergh. He was Curator of the Lindbergh Collection at Yale University. He was a Masters and Doctorate graduate of Yale himself!

  Francis’ father Adraith worked at Oakridge with Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project, and Francis visited him there during the process although his father was unable to divulge the nature of his work other than to tell Francis that it would surely end the war!

  His diplomatic work brought him into regular contact with various US and French Presidents over the years.

  He was in every way a special person and there were many of us in Roscommon and surroundings who were honoured to call him a friend. He had an encyclopaedic memory for names, places and events and took a huge interest in Roscommon and the people of Roscommon whom he grew to know and love.

  He cherished his time here and looked forward to his extended visits ‘to his little house in the West’ which provided a calm oasis for him in order to complete his extensive writing and research.

  Despite his glittering career, it was his family that he regarded with the most pride and satisfaction.

  To his wife Geraldine, and his children Claire, Ann, Charles, and Christine, together with their families and extended families which include not only grandchildren, but great-grandchildren, I would like to extend sincere condolences and reassure them that the name Francis De Tarr will always be remembered with great fondness in Roscommon, fondness for a man who walked with kings, yet never lost the common touch.

  May his gentle soul rest in peace.

(Submitted by Peter H. Jones)