Eamonn de Valera - Born In New York To Irish Mother & Spanish Father - Dev Became Irish Icon
A giant of Irish politics from 1908 until his death in 1975, New York born Eamonn had an Irish mother and a Spanish father who died when Eamon was only three years old. His mother hailed from the Co. Limerick village of Bruree and when her husband died, she was unable to care for her young son and sent him to Bruree under the care of his uncle.
Eamons early education was at Charleville Christian Brothers School and later at Blackrock College, Dublin, on a scholarship.
He went on to graduate in mathematical science from the National University in 1904 and the spent some time as a secondary school teacher. In 1921 he became the Universities Chancellor.
His maiden voyage into politics was through the Gaelic League which he joined in 1908. Sinéad Flanagan, also a
Member and history teacher in the movement, struck up a courtship wit Eamon and the happy couple married in 1910.
He later joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and was made a captain. He was active in the Howth gun running in 1914
and in 1916 he was appointed Commandant of the Third Battalion.
In the 1916 Easter Rising, his battalion occupied Boland’s Mills and Dev was the last commandant to surrender.
He was sentenced to death but his American nationality was mainly responsible for his sentence to be commuted to imprisonment.
Dev was released under the 1917 amnesty and then successfully stood for election under the Sinn Féin banner for East Clare.
In 1918 a plunge was made on Sinn Féin leaders, Dev was then arrested and again imprisoned at Lincoln Jail but a masterplan by Michael Collins sprung him out of the English prison.
In the 1918 General Election, Sinn Féin swept to victory and Dev was made President of the first Dáil Éireann. He later went to America and raised six million dollars and when he returned, England’s grip on Ireland was loosening.
Prime Minister, Lloyd George, proposed a truce and after several meetings the Irish Treaty emerged in December in 1921.
Dev, absent from the London Treaty meetings by his own choice, would not consolidate the terms of the Treaty and a Civil War erupted with Dev opposing Collins and his colleagues.
In 1923 a ceasefire occurred and in 1926 he founded Fíanna Fáil and came into Dáil Éireann in 1927.
His party won power in 1932 for the first time with the support of the Labour party. British occupation finally ended after 800 years in 1938 when the remaining troops pulled out of Irish ports.
In World War two, Dev proclaimed Ireland as neutral territory.
On retirement as Táoiseach, he became President of Ireland and died in 1975