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'Dev’: the career of Eamon de Valera

Phil Chapple examines a titanic and controversial figure in modern Irish history.

Eamon de Valera was born in 1882 at a time when the conflicting interests of nationalism and unionism were sowing the seeds of conflict in Ireland. Nationalism itself was divided between those seeking Home Rule through constitutional change and a minority of radical, physical-force nationalists whose ultimate aim was a republic. In Easter week 1916, an attempted coup in Dublin by the latter, in the form of the Irish Volunteers and the socialist Citizen’s army, was crushed by forces of the British crown. Over 500 people were killed in the week’s fighting and 15 rebel leaders were executed. Amongst the Irish Volunteers was Eamon de Valera.  

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