Éamon de Valera

Irish statesman (1882–1975)

Eamon de Valera (14 October 188229 August 1975) was an Irish politician, born George de Valero, Irish name Éamonn de Bhailéara.

All history is man's efforts to realise ideals.


  • The ideal Ireland that we would have, the Ireland that we dreamed of, would be the home of a people who valued material wealth only as a basis for right living, of a people who, satisfied with frugal comfort, devoted their leisure to the things of the spirit – a land whose countryside would be bright with cosy homesteads, whose fields and villages would be joyous with the sounds of industry, with the romping of sturdy children, the contest of athletic youths and the laughter of happy maidens, whose firesides would be forums for the wisdom of serene old age. The home, in short, of a people living the life that God desires that men should live. With the tidings that make such an Ireland possible, St. Patrick came to our ancestors fifteen hundred years ago promising happiness here no less than happiness hereafter. It was the pursuit of such an Ireland that later made our country worthy to be called the island of saints and scholars. It was the idea of such an Ireland - happy, vigorous, spiritual - that fired the imagination of our poets; that made successive generations of patriotic men give their lives to win religious and political liberty; and that will urge men in our own and future generations to die, if need be, so that these liberties may be preserved. One hundred years ago, the Young Irelanders, by holding up the vision of such an Ireland before the people, inspired and moved them spiritually as our people had hardly been moved since the Golden Age of Irish civilisation. Fifty years later, the founders of the Gaelic League similarly inspired and moved the people of their day. So, later, did the leaders of the Irish Volunteers. 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.
  • It is my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Michael Collins and it will be recorded at my expense.
    • Comment in 1966, quoted in Michael Collins : A Biography (1990) by Tim Pat Coogan, p. 432.

Judging Dev (2007)Edit

Quotes of de Valera, as presented in Judging Dev : A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon De Valera (2007) Royal Irish Academy ISBN: 1904890288
  • No matter what the future may hold for the Irish nation, the seven years — 1916 to 1923 — must ever remain a period of absorbing interest. Not for over two hundred years has there been such a period of intense and sustained effort to regain the national sovereignty and independence. Over the greater part of the period it was the effort of, one might say, the entire nation. An overwhelming majority of the people of this island combined voluntarily during those years in pursuit of a common purpose.
  • Nature never intended me to be a partisan leader …
    Every instinct of mine would indicate that I was meant to be a dyed-in-the-wool Tory, or even a bishop, rather than the leader of a revolution.
  • For Irishmen, there is no football game to match rugby and if all our young men played rugby not only would we beat England and Wales but France and the whole lot of them put together.
    • Quoted from a 1957 speech.
  • Of course I wrote most of the Constitution myself. I remember hesitating for a long time over the US presidential system. But it wouldn't have done — we were too trained in English democracy to sit down under a dictatorship which is what the American system really is.
    • As quoted from a conversation with a former British Ambassador Sir Arthur Gilchrist and the late Foreign Affairs Minister Frank Aiken.
  • Ministers not responsible to parliament — that would never do. Besides, I wanted to prepare a nice quiet job without too much work for my old age. Still, I admit, I was tempted. Look at the way de Gaulle rules France … absolute rule … very efficient.
    • As quoted from a conversation with a former British Ambassador Sir Arthur Gilchrist and the late Foreign Affairs Minister Frank Aiken.

I'm Glad You Asked Me That (2007)Edit

Quotes of de Valera from I'm Glad You Asked Me That : Irish Political Quotations (2007) by Eoghan Corry ISBN: 9780340924525
  • England pretends it is not by the naked sword, but by the good will of the people of the country that she is here. We will draw the naked sword to make her bare her own naked sword.
    • (25 October 1917).
  • Partition is after all only an old fortress of crumbled masonry — held together with the plaster of fiction.
    • (January 1918).
  • I am against this Treaty not because I am a man of war but because I am a man of peace. I am against this Treaty because it will not end the centuries of conflict between the two nations of Great Britain and Ireland.
    • (18 December 1921).
  • All history is man's efforts to realise ideals.
    • (5 February 1929).
  • A Dhomhnall, I have to tell you, you are abolished.
    • To Domhnall O'Buachalla on abolishing the position of Governor-General

Quotes about de ValeraEdit

  • De Valera paused before replying to the suggestion. It had been his Karma to live a long and distinguished public life. Although he was then in his eighty-fifth year he was looking forward to a second seven-year term as President of Ireland. But he knew that before the bar of history his name and fame were inextricably linked with a man whose allotted span had been destined to be but a third of his own. He knew that the story of Eamon de Valera could not be told without that of Michael Collins. Already he had embarked on what he knew in his heart was a futile effort to influence the record for the benefit of posterity. His newspaper and political empires had published innumerable favourable articles, histories and recollections. And in the years ahead he planned to ensure that much more favourable comment and chronology would be collated and set down. He had fashioned a vigorous dialectic of de Valerism that would bulwark him against critical re-appraisal long into the future. But de Valera was a realist, a man whose doodlings on the back of documents took the form of mathematical symbols. He realised only too well that his party, his newspapers, his Constitution even, had grown out of his opposition to Michael Collins and the resultant civil war. He knew that eventually, in the truthful telling of history, two and two would make four. Torn between his own clarity of vision and the myths he had spun around himself, de Valera struggled painfully for words to express himself. Then he said, 'I can't see my way to becoming Patron of the Michael Collins Foundation. It's my considered opinion that in the fullness of time history will record the greatness of Collins and it will be recorded at my expense.' He could be right.
    • Tim Pat Coogan, Michael Collins: The Man Who made Ireland (1992), p. 432
  • How could one argue with a man who was always drawing lines and circles to explain the position; who, one day, drew a diagram [here Michael illustrated with pen and paper] saying 'take a point A, draw a straight line to point B, now three-fourths of the way up the line take a point C. The straight line AB is the road to the Republic; C is where we have got to along the road, we cannot move any further along the straight road to our goal B; take a point out there, D [off the line AB]. Now if we bend the line a bit from C to D then we can bend it a little further, to another point E and if we can bend it to CE that will get us around Cathal Brugha which is what we want!' How could you talk to a man like that?
    • Michael Collins, referring to de Valera in conversation with Michael Hayes, at the debates over the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921.
    • Michael Hayes Papers, P53/299, UCDA. Quoted in Doherty, Gabriel and Keogh, Dermot (2006). Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State. Mercier Press, p. 153.

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