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Eamon De Valera Essay

1720 words - 7 pages

Eamon de ValeraEamon de Valera, although born in New York City as a U.S. citizen, devoted his life to help the people of Ireland. Over his lifetime he would be one of the most prominent Irish figures in the fight for independence, and is remembered by many as an instrumental figure in achieving that end. De Valera's mother, Kate Coll, came to the states in 1879 at the age of twenty three where she met Vivion de Valera. In 1881, the couple married. A little over a year later Kate gave birth to the couple's only child, named Edward, but later known to the world by the Irish variation of that name, Eamon. (Clare Library) Always in poor health, Vivion de Valera would die only two years later. Kate de Valera decided that Eamon would be better cared for by her family back in Ireland. Before long he was living in Bruree, in County Limerick, in a one-room house with his grandmother, aunt, and uncle. (BBC)Eamon's childhood was typical; he worked at farming with the rest of his family, went to school, and played rugby. At the age of fourteen he enrolled at the Christian Brothers' School seven miles from his home and since the family could not afford to buy him a bicycle he had to walk the entire distance both ways every day, carrying a heavy load of books. After two years he was admitted with a scholarship to Blackrock College, and after five years at Blackrock, he became a mathematics teacher at a school in Tipperary while completing his college degree. In 1904 he graduated from the Royal University in Dublin. He taught Latin, French and mathematics at various secondary schools, but also at colleges training teachers. Finally he became faculty at St. Patrick's College, an Irish seminary responsible for preparing men for the priesthood, where he became very involved with Catholicism and Irish independence.As part of his concern for Irish independence Eamon plunged into the study of Gaelic, the language of ancient Ireland. It was at a meeting of the Gaelic league that he met a young actress, Jane Flanagan. Jane soon changed her name to Sinead and after a courtship of two years, she and Eamon were married. It was a marriage which would last more than sixty years and produce six children. (Clare Library) By the year the de Valera's were married, the struggle for Irish independence from Great Britain had grown bitter. At first, Eamon tried not to involve himself in politics. But as the situation with England grew more intense, he joined both the Irish Republican Brotherhood and Sinn Fein; groups pressing for Irish freedom. (BBC) He was even more active in the Irish Volunteers, a group that was arming itself and preparing for rebellion. He became commander of the Third Battalion of the Volunteers, a force of about 125 men. In April 1916, the bloody Easter rebellion broke out in Dublin. De Valera seized the railroad station there, as well as a large bakery. They defeated British reinforcements sent to recapture those positions. But after nearly a week the...

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