Historical [Charcoal sketch] drawing of De Valera by Seán Keating PRHA going under the hammer in Whyte’s [Stephen’s Green, Dublin]s on February 29 with an estimate of €3,500 – €4,500. If it were of Michael Collins would it carry a higher estimate?
The State should buy this for the people of Ireland. Regardless of political affiliations, the man was a commandant during the 1916 Rising and Taoiseach as well as President.
Eamon De Valera in 1916 (left) and Thomas MacDonagh
In 1916 Irish Volunteer Commandant Eamon De Valera had expressed concerns that a secret society was plotting a Rising to his senior officer Thomas MacDonagh.He complained that some of his men knew more about military activity than he did and demanded clarification.
MacDonagh told him he was correct and explained to de Valera how a rebellion was being planned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood through a secret military council working within the Irish Volunteers. MacDonagh held that this would take place at Easter.
De Valera was horrified, as a practising Catholic felt he could not be part of an oath bound society and threatened to resign his commission, but his concerns were eased by MacDonagh who held Catholicism should not be an issue and that by taking the oath to the IRB, de Valera could remain a Catholic if he chose. Swearing de Valera into the IRB, on the condition that his oath was ‘an empty political formula,’ and did not undermine his Catholicism,
MacDonagh was criticised by Eamonn Ceannt who asked him why he swore de Valera into the conspiracy. Almost prophetically MacDonagh noted ‘don’t you worry about De Valera…. He will come through as he always lands on his feet.’ MacDonagh would be shot at Kilmainham Gaol on May 3rd 1916, addressing the firing squad he lamented ‘I know this is a lousy job, but you’re doing your duty – I do not hold this against you’.
By contrast, as MacDonagh predicted, de Valera fell on his feet, spared from execution he would rise to dominate Irish politics for a generation as one of the most important and controversial figures in modern Ireland.
Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of the state funeral of Eamon De Valera.
Joy was unconfined A nation mourned.
And quickly forgot his contribution.
Eamon Delaney writes:
Dev’s death in 1975 was a major national event. At the age of 92, it seemed that the Long Fellow had been around for forever, and his passing finally saw Ireland move on from the grip of the ‘old men in the black coats’ who had presided over the struggling State for so long…Dev got a major send off, with the Fine Gael-led coalition government determined to show flair and fairness in burying the old enemy.
De Valera’s name still provokes strong reaction. I was recently going along the red-brick Munster Street in Phibsboro, when I passed the house where de Valera lived briefly after the 1916 Rising. I asked an elderly man nearby how come they didn’t have a plaque up. The man’s reply was unprintable. But basically, it was along the lines of ‘why we should we honour such a scandalous, destructive chancer who dragged us into Civil War and ruined the country‘.
This is a common view. It was once said of de Valera, that there was ‘no road named after him in Dublin, because they couldn’t find a road that was long enough nor narrow enough to name after the b**tard’ (though this is probably an old Blueshirt joke).
By contrast, Dev’s nemesis, Michael Collins, has grown in heroic stature. There is a road named after him, and a bronze bust of him in Merrion Square and a stone one off Parnell Square, in the Dublin City gallery. The Corkman’s grave in Glasnevin is constantly bedecked with flowers, while Dev’s is somewhat barren.
the Long Fellow deserves a better hearing and in time he surely will get it, as people wake up to the realities of how things were during his long life and how history should be judged in context. Otherwise, we are treating our historical figures as mere movie characters, and ignoring the way in which we ourselves have shaped our story and our leaders.
Éamon Ó Cuív, you know who’s grandson, and Fianna Fáil leader Michael Martin at the launch of the party’s Programme of Events to mark the Centenary of 1916 Easter Rising at the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin.
Via Fianna Fáil:
The creation of Fianna Fáil, as a national movement, was inspired by the Leaders of the Rising and founded on the ideals of the Proclamation. Many of the founding members of our Party played a central role in the fighting of Easter Week; Eamon de Valera being the last commander of the Irish Volunteers to cease fire in Boland’s Mills.
In order to honour those who fought in the Rising and to celebrate this event’s monumental impact on the Irish Nation, the Party has established a Commemoration Committee/Coiste 1916 chaired by Éamon Ó Cuív TD to plan how best to commemorate the centenary. This Committee would like to invite you to submit your ideas as to how best the Party should commemorate the 1916 Rising in 2015 and 2016.
Yesterday’s Irish Mail on Sunday published a letter from the late Eamon de Valera, Professor of Gynaecology, University College Dublin showing him to have been involved in the illegal adoption of babies in the 1960s, such adoption having taken place by way of the issue of a birth certificate in the name of the adoptive parents.
The practice of adoption by falsified birth certificates was discussed by Mike Milotte’ in his book ‘Banished Babies‘, (New Island) in which he records the garda investigation and subsequent prosecution,in 1965, of Mary Keating, proprietress of St Rita’s Nursing Home Donnybrook, Dublin 4 for falsely registering the birth of a baby in her care.
According to Milotte, the original focus of the investigation was not just Mrs Keating, but her kingpin:
“[The Gardai] had their sights on a man whom they believed to be behind a major baby selling racket that had gone on undetected for a number of years, and that had involved the illegal dispatch of many babies to America. The man, who had a public profile, was never charged with any offence, although it was always suspected that it was he, and not Mrs Keating, who was the principal beneficiary of the scam.
Several senior police officers were involved in the investigation, but when the file was eventually sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions he decided to prosecute only Mrs Keating for her role in forging the official birth register. When her trial took place before Justice Farrell in the Dublin District Court in January 1965… the prosecution offered no evidence of financial dealings, and there wasn’t a hint in court of the bigger picture or of the man who was behind the racket…. Mrs Keating pleaded guilty and the proceedings ended quickly… Despite the acknowledged gravity of the offence, she was put on probation… A Mrs Keating kept her licence and remained profitably in business until she retired more than a decade later… and ‘Mr Big’ lived a long, respectable and prosperous life.”
Mrs Keating was clearly well-connected. Declan Costello, future Attorney-General, appeared for her her trial, and Karl Mullen, gynaecologist, rugby star and grandfather of Cian and Pippa O’Connor, gave evidence of her good character.
Although many children of unmarried mothers were adopted in the 1960s, with and without the help of gynaecologists, St Rita’s adoptions were unique, or almost unique, in offering the adoptive parents a birth certificate in their own names.
Was the child the subject of the Irish Mail on Sunday article born at St Rita’s? And, if so, what was Professor de Valera’s association with this institution?
Milotte also reports an anecdotal statement by Charles Haughey that ‘half the children born at St Rita’s were fathered by members of the Dail’, stating :
“It might explain why the identities of so many of Mrs Keating’s ‘girls’ were obliterated through the issuing of false birth certificates, why she was so keen to dispatch their children to America, and why she was so willing to plead guilty to a very grave offence, protecting the man who was masterminding the whole business in the process.”
Read Sibling of Daedalus’ and newly-updated Irish history blog here.
In 1944, five years before the publication of 1984, George Orwell wrote a letter setting out the thesis of what would become his greatest novel. In it he wrote:
Hitler, no doubt, will soon disappear, but only at the expense of strengthening (a) Stalin, (b) the Anglo-American millionaires and (c) all sorts of petty fuhrers° of the type of de Gaulle. All the national movements everywhere, even those that originate in resistance to German domination, seem to take non-democratic forms, to group themselves round some superhuman fuhrer (Hitler, Stalin, Salazar, Franco, Gandhi, De Valera are all varying examples) and to adopt the theory that the end justifies the means. Everywhere the world movement seems to be in the direction of centralised economies which can be made to ‘work’ in an economic sense but which are not democratically organised and which tend to establish a caste system. With this go the horrors of emotional nationalism and a tendency to disbelieve in the existence of objective truth because all the facts have to fit in with the words and prophecies of some infallible fuhrer.
To awaken you is just a kiss away
And in my arms to rock and sway
In all sincerity I want to say
Be my Valentine for just one day
Whenever you need me in gloom and cheer
You can rest assured I’ll always be near
With this line to be my second best
My love for you in a die to be caste.
Michael Collins’ Valentine poem (to his first girlfriend, Susan Killeen, 1916)
I need a kiss, urgently. I want to press my wife to my heart, but we are 150 miles apart. Darling, do you think of me at all? Can you sleep without those long limbs wrapped round you? Those same limbs are longing to be wrapped round you again – two weeks – fourteen days – how can I endure it? You do not know how sorrowful I am.
Eamon de Valera to Sinead, from Irish college, 1911
Cheeky, ruddy-faced rhyme from wholesome patriot.
Or spindly, lust-crippled doggerel from impatient gaelgoir.