Eamon De Valera

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Eamon de Valera

Eamon 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.


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...