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    Foreword: 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
    this century. 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 Coll (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

    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
    organisations of the time and it was not long before
    DeValera became a member of the Irish Republican
    Brotherhood. DeValera 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.
    DeValera was also sentenced to death as an organiser 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 Dáil). 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.

    DeValera returned to negotiate with Lloyd George and soon
    realised 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 Dáil
    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 Fáil 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 an 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
    1949 that the effects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty were finally
    removed from the Southern part of Ireland. Partition remained.

    DeValera 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.

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