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Éamon de Velara

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Éamon de Valera

Photo Eamonn De Valera

Photo: Eamonn De Valera

Aged 28 at the time of the 1911 Census

Address Census 1901: 4.1, Williamstown Avenue (Blackrock, Dublin)1

Éamon de Valera was recorded on the 1901 Census as an 18 year old student at Blackrock College, Dublin. Éamon was born George de Valero in New York in 1882. After the death of his father, Éamon was taken by his uncle to live in Ireland, when he was 2 years of age. Éamon was reared by his mother’s family in Co. Limerick while his mother remained in New York.

Address Census 1911: 33, Morehampton Terrace (Pembroke West, Dublin)1

By the time of the 1911 Census, de Valera was married and living with his wife of one year Sinéad (32) and baby son Vivien in 33 Morehamptom Terrace, Dublin. There was also a domestic servant, Mary Coffee (25) who was from Dublin, recorded on the Census form.

Éamon was born in New York in October 1882 and was the son of a Spanish father and an Irish mother Katherine Coll. He spent his childhood with his mother’s family at Bruree, Co. Limerick. He was educated at the local national school and then by the Christian Brothers at Charleville and before winning a scholarship to Blackrock College, Dublin. He joined Blackrock School’s rugby team and played for Munster in 1905. Attending Blackrock College was a step up the ladder of social mobility for Éamon. Around this time the family moved from their one room mud walled thatched family home to a new government built three room slate roofed labourer’s cottage with a half-acre of land.

Éamon took a degree through the old Royal University and found a job as a teacher of Mathematics. He approached nationalism through the Gaelic League and a love of the Irish language. He met his future wife, Sinéad Flanagan, while attending Irish classes - she was a teacher and four years his senior. They married in 1910 and he insisted on being married through Irish although he still signed his name on the 1911 census return as Edward. He entered his spoken languages on the 1911 Census form as English and Irish but his wife’s were entered as Irish and English.

De Valera joined the Irish Volunteers at their foundation and became captain of the Donnybrook Company. He was involved in the gun running at Howth and conveyed the rifles in the side car of a motor bike. He became a member of the IRB and was made Commandant of the 3rd Battalion. On 24th April the forces commanded by de Valera occupied Boland’s Mill on Grand Canal Street. This force was to cover the South-eastern approaches to the city

Following the surrender, de Valera was court-martialled and sentenced to death but following representations on his behalf by the US Consulate, and also because General Maxwell believed him to be unimportant, the sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life.

After he was saved from execution, de Valera began to emerge as a man of authority and capacity in the various prisons to which he was assigned during the year of his captivity. His gifts for leadership and discipline helped prisoners, who might otherwise have become demoralised, to preserve their independence of spirit and they repaid him with a devoted loyalty. He had been imprisoned in Dartmoore, Maidstone and Lewes prisons but was released by an amnesty in June 1917.

At the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis in 1917 de Valera was elected President of Sinn Féin. While he was in jail he was elected for East Clare in the general election and in 1918 he was elected again for East Clare and also for Mayo East. He was rearrested in 1918 and imprisoned. In 1919, 27 Sinn Féin MP’s assembled in the Mansion House in Dublin and formed the first Dáil Éireann. Cathal Brugha was elected as its first President. De Valera’s escape from Lincoln jail on 3 February 1919, engineered by Michael Collins and Harry Boland, won him headlines worldwide and on his return to Ireland he succeeded Brugha as President. The Dáil was declared illegal by the British in September 1919 which subsequently led to the War of Independence. 

De Valera went to America for 18 months to seek financial and political support for an independent Ireland and during his absence Griffith served as Acting President, a role which then went to 29 year old Michael Collins, then Minister for Finance when Griffith was arrested in 1920.

De Valera was a leader in the War of Independence and during the Civil War he was Anti-Treaty. He left Sinn Féin in 1926 and founded the Fianna Fáil party. He had a long political career and served as both Taoiseach (1932-48, 1951-54 and 1957-59) and President of Ireland (1959-1973).

De Valera and his wife Sinéad had seven children, five sons and two daughters. Their first child, Vivion, was recorded on the 1911 Census return. Éamon de Valera died in 1975 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery following a state funeral.




Ireland since the Famine T.S. Lyons pgs. 383-385

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