September 2, 1975.

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.

The Long Fellow, Short memories (Eamon Delaney, Irish Independent)

Pic via Photos of Dublin

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89 thoughts on “Burying Dev

  1. Ayr

    Probably the most maligned and misrepresented Irish leader in history. The idea that de Valera somehow created a conservative, Catholic nation, and if it wasn’t for him the 26 counties would have been some liberal secular state, has become embedded in the modern Irish psyche.

    1. Daisy Chainsaw

      Considering the abuses Dev and and his good friend McQuaid inflicted on this catholic state, it couldn’t have been worse. Without them, would we have been saved from the Magdalene laundries, the brutal industrial schools, the marriage bar etc?

      We’ll never fupping know, will we.

      1. Ayr

        Most of the things you mention predate Dev. C na nG brought in the ban on divorce, strict censorship etc. Nobody comes out of that period regarding the treatment of children in industrial schools and women in general well but to blame it on Dev, or to imply that if a different person was Taoiseach they would not have happened, is stretching credulity. Funnily enough McQuaid was not a supporter of Fianna Fáil. One de Valera’s greatest achievements regarding the constitution was to resist enormous clerical and lay pressure to make Catholicism the official state religion.

          1. Ayr

            That amendment was a completely meaningless sop to the groups who wanted Catholicism to be the official state religion. Much in the same way the senate was a meaningless sop to those who wanted a vocational state along the lines of Catholic social teaching.

        1. dereviled

          No Ayr.
          The amendment was to remove the article. That Wiki reference is a good start in understanding how our republic became a province of Rome.

          1. Ayr

            Sorry I meant the inclusion of the article on the special position of the church in the 1937 constitution was a sop.

        2. dereviled

          I wouldn’t agree with that interpretation.
          The constitution was drafted by John Charles McQuaid; it is intrinsically Catholic from the very first lines of the Preamble. There was no sop, it’s the church’s document from beginning to end.

          1. cluster

            It wasn’t drafted by McQuaid, although he did have input into it – as did the leaders of Irish Methodism, CoI & Presbyterian Church.

          2. dereviled

            Thank you cluster and apologies to Ayr.
            I didn’t give Dev enough credit for including (in the eyes of the church) liberal notions of human rights and such and (as you say below) there were cultural and political reasons for a unifying religion.

          3. Ayr

            No apology necessary Dereviled, I mixed up amendment and article. You’re right, it was a very Catholic document as the preamble attests to but it could have been a lot worse if the militant Catholic movement would have had their way.

    2. Charger Salmons

      De Valera was the first person in through the door of the German Embassy to sign the Book of Condolences when Hitler topped himself.
      I hope he rots in hell.

      1. cluster

        DeV added a specific recognition of Jews to the constitution at a time when many elites all around Europe were openly anti-Semitic.

  2. Formerly known as

    I have a coffee table book of Dev’s life, autographed by the man himself. I think it would have been worth a lot, about 10 years ago. Any idea if it is worth much, now?

  3. Caroline

    Dev was a nice guy. If those other guys get roads named after them, why can’t he? He deserves it. He didn’t die a tragic, young death on Ireland like all those other guys did. He understood Ireland. He was always there for Ireland. Why is Ireland being such an uptight b*tch to him now? Maybe Ireland *wants* an evil despot. Maybe Ireland is bringing a lot of these problems on herself, huh?

  4. Paolo

    Collins is lauded in some circles because he died before he had a chance to further ruin his legacy. He was equally culpable for the civil war.

    1. cluster

      He was not EQUALLY culpable for the civil war.

      He stuck to the side which had the majority of TDs and which the people effectively endorsed.

      DeV on the other hand, went against the wishes of the majority.

  5. phil

    The neutrality stance (and Im all for that ) was probably a mistake during WW2 , either because it we weren’t really neutral, or because we didn’t capitalize on the neutrality stance in subsequent years…

    As a small nation, who has a neutrality stance we would have had the moral credentials to chastise the big powers for all 20th Century wars. We could have done this with top class international Journalists and diplomats , and who knows we might have got the Church involved too….

    To my mind we sold out to the western powers and are too afraid of upsetting anyone now by critiquing our friends behavior..

    1. formerly known as

      Chastise them? I don’t think they would notice. Ireland was a poor country, before, during, and after the war. Possibly, could have jumped in with the allies, when they looked like winners, doing a deal to unite the island.

  6. Daz

    The douche had a priest write the Constitution, hence the fascination with religion and the place of woman in the home, they also inserted the Irish language above English with the effect that the Irish version of the Constitution trumps the any interpretation of the English one! Shambolic …

    1. Paolo

      The people were quite happy with it at the time. As much as I hate organised religion, you are criticising Dev for being a man of his time rather than a visionary before his time.

        1. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

          The Americans you dream about gave their God a capital ‘G’.
          I notice you didn’t neglect to give them one.


          1. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

            Oh yeah, and you couldn’t be more wrong.

            America is as backward as any affiliate to the calliphate.

            And you’re a dick.

    2. Clampers Outside!

      Wrong on the Constitution. the Irish version does not trump the original English version. Google it!

      When tackled from an analytical / legal point of view or any in depth discussion, the Constitution must be read in the language it was originally written, that being English.

      1. Daz

        I just did.

        “The Irish text of the Constitution takes precedence over the English text (Articles 25.4.6° and 63). However, the second amendment included changes to the Irish text to align it more closely with the English text, rather than vice versa. The Constitution provides for a number of Irish language terms that are to be used even in English.”

        1. Clampers Outside!

          Me stumped… I’m sure, positively so, that I read and had a link from the law society on this a few months back….. I’m not giving up until I find that article :) …me busy now tho…

      1. Daz

        Accomplished in drafting a “Catholic and democratic” tome of course … Anyhow, I hear your ‘none of them clergy’ and raise you a Fr. John Charles McQuaid …

  7. tony

    Who speaks great words like this any more?

    “We of this time, if we have the will and active enthusiasm, have the opportunity to inspire and move our generation in like manner. We can do so by keeping this thought of a noble future for our country constantly before our eyes, ever seeking in action to bring that future into being, and ever remembering that it is for our nation as a whole that future must be sought”.

    Eamon De Valera

  8. Rory

    He was not a man for running a nation. He managed to destroy what economy there was in Ireland during the late 40’s with the Trade Wars with Britain.
    I ask this; what sort of eejit would impose trade embargoes on the country’s largest trading partner?! It was lunacy!
    And though he took the greatest steps towards ridding Ireland of the restrictions of the Free State Treaty, it was ultimately Costello who declared the Irish Free State as the Republic of Ireland.

    On another note, I do enjoy doing an impression of Alan Rickman’s DeV

    1. cluster

      I think Dev’s influence is a big part of the reason why there is such a weak & incoherent left-wing in Ireland.

      He preached & enacted a sort of opposition to materialism, protectionism, a suspicion of open capitalism, an ‘honourable’ and fairly equal level of wealth (poverty really) which would shame Corbyn.

  9. Ms Piggy

    I’m surprised no-one’s mentioned the sorry tale of the Irish Press, another dodgy incident in a long career of them.

  10. Demon

    Most of the seven leaders of the Rising have no street named after them in Dublin, but there are streets for Camden, D’Olier, Dorset and other… fine… people.

    1. Spaghetti Hoop

      Pearse Station, Connolly Station, Heuston Station, Ceannt Station (Galway), Sean McDermot Street, Con Colbert Road, Kent Station (Cork), Plunkett Station (Waterford), Dún Laoghaire Mallin Station, O’Hanrahan Station (Wexford).
      If they were all in Dublin there’d be moaning.

      1. Demon

        Stations yes, streets no. Seven leaders:

        PH Pearse
        Thomas MacDonagh
        James Connolly
        Thomas Clarke
        Joseph Plunkett
        Eamonn Ceannt
        Sean Mac Diarmada

          1. Demon

            Ned Daly, one of the young commanders.

            I’m talking about the seven leaders and planners, the men who signed the Proclamation and were the wellspring of the Rising.

            The random executions of people like Ned Daly and Con Colbert and Willie Pearse were part of the British madness after the Rising.

  11. Anyways

    would we have avoided the forced adoptions, Magdalene and other Catholic fundamentalist influences with a different leader, genuinely curious it makes me want to know

    1. Demon

      Doubt it. Sebastian Barry’s novel The Secret Scripture perfectly captures the ultra-Catholic attitudes of the precursors of Fine Gael.

      1. cluster

        I’m not sure that either FF or FG imposed a tough Catholicism upon the people.

        The country was poor, the overwhelming majority were of a single denomination (at least in many Protestant countries there were competing sects), Partition had hardened O’Connell’s link between Irish nationalism and Catholicism.

        It is worth remembering that, while Catholic Ireland was particularly severe, most of the western world was severe and moralistic. There were workhouses in the UK until 1948 and borstals until 1982. The US was embarking on his experiment with prohibition.

        The biggest difference so far as I can see is the lack of introspection following WW2 and the lack of a post-war economic miracle.

        1. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

          Politicians didn’t ‘impose’ adherence to faith, they worked within it.
          The Church was an identity to be adopted.

          Don’t blame the politicians.
          They’re just a bunch of gobpoos.

  12. Spare

    Bertie must look at Dev’s legacy and shudder. There has been no reappraisal, no cool look back without emotional baggage, just a hardening of the stance.

  13. Andy Moore

    & to the strains of american marching music, the bishop ablessed blueshirts destroyed any attempt at neutrality this afternoon down Dún Laoghaire pier !!!

  14. sancho

    Economic War with England; neutrality almost to the point of invasion by the Brits; signing the German book of condolences; the Constitution; making Ireland into a backwater of the Vatican; making no progress on Ireland’s economy; turning his back on the North… Dev’s legacy.

    Some might say, he pushed back on McQuaid’s demands in the Constitution, and maybe he did somewhat, but it’s still a misogynistic doc (utterly in conflict with 1916 Proclamation- though in fairness, Dev may have missed that cos he was having panic attack somewhere), and it still gives the Catholic Church huge primacy.

  15. Fergus the magic postman

    “though this is probably an old Blueshirt joke”

    I only know one other Blueshirt joke, & it’s one of Enda’s racist ones.

        1. italia'90

          People Before Profit: You have 2 cows and you give one to your neighbour.

          Socialist Party: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and gives you some milk.

          Sinn Fein: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and sells you some milk.

          Renua: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both and shoots you.

          Fine Gael: You have 2 cows; the Government takes both, shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away..

          1. Kieran NYC

            People Before Profit: Some people demand milk and refuse to pay for it.

            Socialist Party: Government too busy fighting over who’s the most ideologically pure, forgets about you.

            Sinn Fein: the cows are stolen and you’re kneecapped. Government goes broke within six months.

            Renua: place is overrun by calfs due to poor cow contraception

            Fine Gael: great cows, brilliant weather, delicious milk, but somehow manages to screw it all up despite itself

            Fianna Fail: no cows around here, boss. *pockets envelope*

          2. italia'90

            Fianna Fail: You have 2 cows. You sell 3 of them to your developer friends, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at Anglo Irish Bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated general offer so that you get all 4 cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping 5 cows. The milk rights of 6 cows are transferred via a Lichtenstein intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all 7 cows’ milk back to the listed company and proceeds from the sale are deferred. The annual report says that the company owns 8 cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the 2 cows because Irish Cows are mad and failed the Eurostat tests.

          3. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

            @ Kieran.

            You don’t like poor people, do you?
            -They’re a burden, a threat to your imperceptive, non-existent ‘wealth’, born of your incredulous lack of empathy…

            You don’t know what proper wealth is.
            It has little to do with money.

            You’re an idiot.

          4. Kieran NYC

            When did I mention poor people?

            It’s the demagogues who peddle BS and ‘magic money economics’ to loudmouth unhappy idiots like you I can’t stand.

        2. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

          Flip this.
          I do comedy.

          There’s WAY too much serious stuff on this site.
          At the end of the day we’re only keeping each other awake, so go asleep.

          Sleep with me.

  16. Truth in the Newa

    He may be dead for 40 years but his legacy continues, in the guise of Fianna
    Fail in its much dimished state, there are many unaswered questions on Dev
    that sill remain, especially his relationship with Collins, his limited political vision
    and blindness hidden from the people, also his close encounter with assasination
    there are the finances of the Irish Press that Noel Browne raised in the Dail and
    caused Dev to resign, his role in the Civil War, the destruction of SF and his
    later treatment of Republicans in the 40′.
    To Coin a phrase a lot known but a hell of lot to be found out, rewording the FF
    2007 mantra ” a lot done more to do”.

  17. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

    F FF, and their f-ing legacy.
    Stop talking about it like it’s something to be proud of.

    This is the future.
    Let go of the past..

    Dev did as much damage as anyone I can think of to stop us progressing as a nation.

    This shoite is like listening to American Republicans revering their first clown/president, Reagan.

    Cop on.

    1. Niallo

      Damn straight ! and lets wave goodbye to all that rising and civil war bolix as well, all those people are dead !
      We are here now, the future is ours, now, not a consequence of someone elses past, thats not to say we should ignore the past, but, people, move on ffs!

      1. sǝɯǝɯ ʇɐ pɐq

        Thank you Niallo.

        I needed that.
        The mouthy ones need to be reminded that the rest of us have a voice too.

        And they need to be be taken down from their pedestals too.

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