Author(s): TIM PAT COOGAN
The history of Ireland for much of the Twentieth century is the history of Eamon De Valera.
From the 1916 Rising, the troubled Treaty negotiations and the Civil War, right through to his retirement after longer in power than any other twentieth century leader, de Valera has both defined and divided Ireland. He was directly responsible for the Irish Constitution, Fianna Fail (the largest Irish political party) and the Irish Press Group.
He helped create a political church-state monolith with continuing implications for Northern Ireland, the social role of women, the Irish language and the hole concept of an Irish nation. Many of the challenges he confronted are still troubling the peace of Ireland and of Britain, and some of the problems are his legacy.
For de Valera was a world figure who attempted to confine his nation of disciples to the narrowest of cultural and intellectual horizons.