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Ireland (part three): Ourselves Alone – Eamon de Valera and the Arrows of Adversity

RGS History

dev 32By 1923, the civil war was over. The anti-treaty forces had been crushed, and the new Free State was established. The civil war left its legacy, though, not least in subsequent politics: the two sides of the civil war gave birth to the two political parties that have dominated Irish politics ever since.

1280px-Photograph_of_Cumann_na_nGaedheal_Government

The pro-treaty side that now governed (above, in 1923) formed a party that, by 1932, had coalesced into Fine Gael. Meanwhile, Eamon de Valera created Fianna Fail (below). It went on to become its largest party in independent Ireland, as it would remain until 2011.

FF 26If de Valera’s conduct in 1921-22 was at best deeply mistaken, and at worst malign, head discovered statesmanship quickly thereafter. Having lost his seat, he contemplated leaving politics. Instead, in 1926, he broke from and effectively broke Sinn Féin. Then, in 1927, he ate his old words about the oath: Fianna Fáil…

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