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Essays and Such

Irish Cultural Society

of San Antonio Texas

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Promoting Awareness of Irish Culture

Eamon De Valera
From Ireland Newsletter Nov. 2007
One of Ireland's Heros

 
Eamon DeValera was one of the most important figures in the 
history of Ireland. His relationship with the people of the 
country was often strained and his attitude and motives have 
frequently puzzled historians throughout. The fact remains 
however, that without his involvement in the Irish Nationalist 
movement the course of Irish history would have been radically
different. 
He was born in New York on the 14th of October in 1882 to 
Catherine ColI (a young Irish immigrant from County Limerick) 
and Juan Vivion DeValera (an immigrant of Spanish origin). 
Little is known of his early childhood except that his family 
moved from America in 1885 to Ireland where the young Eamon 
studied at Blackrock College in Dublin and was largely reared 
by his Grandmother. He studied languages and mathematics and was, 
like Michael Collins, a student of English Rule in Ireland. The 
early 1900s was a time of the great Gaelic cultural revival in 
Ireland as literature, drama, sport and the language of the 
Gaelic nation were all revived. 
The main spearhead of the revival was The Gaelic League, which 
he joined in 1908. He was greatly influenced by the League and 
learned the Irish language whilst immersing himself in the 
Gaelic culture. The Gaelic League was an obvious recruiting 
ground for the various revolutionary organizations of the time 
and it was not long before De Valera became a member of the 
Irish Republican Brotherhood. De Valera was second in command to 
Thomas MacDonagh of the Dublin Brigade during the Easter Rising 
of 1916. 
The Rising failed and the seven leaders, MacDonagh and Pearse 
among them, were executed, along with 9 other rebels. De Valera 
was also sentenced to death as an organizer of the revolt but 
was to escape the firing squad because of the confusion 
surrounding his ancestry (the English authorities did not want 
to risk the execution of an American citizen). 
DeValera was elected as the leader of Sinn Fein upon his release 
and set about the formation of an Irish parliament (the DAji1). 
He was arrested in 1918 for subversion and imprisoned in England 
in Lincoln prison. With the help of Michael Collins he escaped 
to America to raise both funds for and consciousness about, the 
Irish plight. In his absence the War of Independence was being 
waged by Collins. The English Prime Minister of the time was 
Lloyd George who wanted to see an end to the violence. 
De Valera returned to negotiate with Lloyd George and soon 
realized that his ambition of a free and independent Ireland would 
not be granted. He returned home and sent a delegation led by 
Michael Collins to negotiate a settlement. 
The subsequent Anglo-Irish Treaty was ratified by the Dail in 
1922 but DeValera opposed both the partition of the country and 
the Oath of Allegiance to the English crown that the Treaty 
required. A bloody Civil War followed which saw both the defeat 
of the Anti-Treaty side, led by DeValera, and the death of 
Michael Collins. 
DeValera was again imprisoned but released in 1926 when he formed 
the Fianna Fail party. He now attempted to achieve his aims by 
the use of constitutional politics. By 1932 he had removed the 
Oath of Allegiance and sought about establishing an independent 
Ireland. He created all Irish Constitution in 1937 but an Irish 
Republic was not declared because of the partition of the country. 
DeValera resisted both bribes and threats from Churchill during 
the war years, ('the emergency'), and it was not until the 
Costello led Government declared a Republic in 1948 that the 
effects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty were finally removed from the 
Southern part of Ireland. Partition remained. 
De Valera was Taoiseach of Ireland for much of the fifties and 
on 25 June 1959 he was inaugurated as President of Ireland, a 
position he held for 14 years. He retired in 1973 and died 
shortly afterwards, on 29th August 1975 at the age of 92.
 
Reference: Ireland Newsletter Nov. 2007