Éamon de Valera Biography

(Former President of Ireland)

Birthday: October 14, 1882 (Libra)

Born In: New York City

Eamon de Valera was an Irish politician and patriot, one of the leaders of Ireland's struggle for independence from the United Kingdom. A major political figure in 20th century Ireland, de Valera had served multiple terms as the Taoiseach (prime minister), and the president of the nation at different points of time. He is also credited to have introduced the Constitution of Ireland. He was born in America to a Spanish father and an Irish mother, and endured a very difficult childhood after the death of his father. He was then sent to live in Ireland with his grandmother. He grew up to be an intelligent and athletic young man who also evolved into a passionate patriot. He embarked on a career as a teacher and became involved in Gaelic revival—national revival of interest in the Irish language. He also joined the Irish Volunteers and played a very significant role in the anti-British Easter Rising in Dublin. He was a member of the Sinn Féin party which was associated with extreme nationalist sentiment during the Easter Rising, and eventually became its president. Following Irish independence, he emerged as one of the most dominant figures in Irish politics.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Eamon de Valera

Died At Age: 92


Spouse/Ex-: Sinéad de Valera

father: Juan Vivion de Valera

mother: Catherine Coll

children: Vivion de Valera

Presidents Revolutionaries

political ideology: Political party - Fianna Fáil (1926–59), Other political affiliations - Cumann na Poblachta (1922–23), Sinn Féin (1916–22, 1923–26)

Died on: August 29, 1975

place of death: Dublin

City: New York City

U.S. State: New Yorkers

Founder/Co-Founder: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, Fianna Fáil, Cumann na Poblachta

More Facts

education: 1904 - University of Dublin, Royal University of Ireland, Blackrock College

Childhood & Early Life
He was born as Edward George de Valero on 14 October 1882 in New York City, United States to a Spanish father, Juan Vivion de Valera, and an Irish mother, Catherine Coll.
His father died when the boy was just two and he was sent to Ireland to live with his maternal relatives.
After completing his schooling he first went to the Blackrock College and then to the Rockwell College. He was an athletic young man who loved to play rugby.
Continue Reading Below
In 1903, Eamon de Valera was appointed a teacher of mathematics at Rockwell College, County Tipperary. He then furthered his education from the Royal University of Ireland and was appointed a teacher of mathematics at Carysfort Teachers' Training College for women in Blackrock in 1906.
He was a true patriot and became involved in the political revolution in 1913 when he joined the Irish Volunteers, an organization that supported Home Rule for Ireland.
In 1916, the anti-British Easter Rising in Dublin was in full-swing and de Valera led his forces to occupy Boland’s Mill. The forces were told to surrender after a week of fighting and de Valera was the last to surrender. He was also the only commandant of the rebellion, who was not executed, partly because of his American birth.
He joined the political party Sinn Féin in 1916 and was selected as its president in 1917 as several others of the rebellious leaders were dead. Sinn Féin won a huge majority in the 1918 general election following which de Valera went in disguise to the United States, where he collected funds to promote the cause of Irish Independence from the United Kingdom. De Valera was successful in collecting $5,500,000 from American supporters.
Meanwhile in Ireland, patriotic passions of the Irish revolutionaries reached a new height, igniting the Irish War of Independence. De Valera returned to Ireland shortly before the war ended with the truce that took effect on July 11, 1921.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in 1922 and the larger part of Ireland became independent from the United Kingdom to become the independent Irish Free State. However, it would take several more years before it would become a republic.
De Valera left Sinn Féin in 1926 and founded the party Fianna Fáil the same year. He became the head of government –President of the Executive Council—in 1932.
He wrote a new constitution in 1937 in which he included reforms and symbols intended to assert Irish sovereignty. The constitution also suggested a new name for the state, "Éire" (in Irish) and "Ireland" (in English).
With the adoption of the new constitution, Ireland became a republic and Douglas Hyde was inaugurated as the first President of Ireland on 26 June 1938, in the first inaugural ceremony in the nation's history.
De Valera was the President of the Executive Council at the time of enactment of the new constitution in 1937. Once Ireland became a republic, his office automatically became that of Taoiseach (Prime Minister), a position that carried considerably more power than the one he previously held.
He became the president quite late in life. He contested the presidential election in 1959 and won. He then resigned as the Taoiseach and was inaugurated President on 25 June 1959. He won the re-election in 1966 and retired in 1973 at the age of 90.
Major Works
Eamon de Valera is undoubtedly one of the major figures in the political history of Ireland. Over the course of his long political career which spanned over half a century, he played a vital role in the Irish War of Independence and decades later, in the establishment of Ireland as a republic.
Personal Life & Legacy
He met Sinéad Flanagan, a teacher, in 1908 and married her in 1910. The couple was blessed with five sons and two daughters.
Eamon de Valera died on 29 August 1975, at the age of 92.
This former President of Ireland once held the world record for being the oldest elected head of state.
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