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Eamon de Valera Collection

Eamon de Valera, credit UCD-OFM 

UCD Library Special Collections holds the Eamon de Valera Book Collection.
The Collection

The Eamon de Valera collections consist of books and pamphlets formerly owned by Eamon de Valera (1882 – 1975). It comprises of two collections of separate provenance. 

  • The first collection was given to the Irish Franciscans by De Valera and transferred to UCD in 2006 under the auspices of the UCD-OFM partnership along with the De Valera papers and the Irish Franciscan early printed book collection.
  • The second collection was donated by Ann Bonar in 2018. Ann Bonar’s father Brendán Mac Cnaimhsí was given the books by De Valera’s former secretary Máire Ní Cheallaigh who had been gifted the collection by De Valera himself.
Collection highlights
  • A small number of books awarded to De Valera as school book prizes.
  • Irish language books, including Irish language lesson books.
  • Irish history books with particular regard to the Irish Revolutionary period, and the leaders of the Easter Rising, including biographies of himself.
  • British and American history books including books presented to De Valera from Jacqueline Kennedy and Edward Kennedy.
  • Reports of the Irish Government, Northern Irish Government and British Government reports concerning Irish and Northern Irish politics.
  • Fianna Fáil pamphlets, and a collection of pamphlets published by Cumann Léighachtaí an Phobail, launched in 1921, under De Valera’s presidency.

A number of items were added to the collection posthumously.

Biographical history

De Valera was born in New York on the 14th of October, 1882, and at the age of two and a half years was brought to Ireland. He studied mathematics at the Royal University, and later became a mathematics teacher. In 1908 he joined the Gaelic League/Conradh na Gaeilge, where he would meet Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin, whom he would marry in 1910. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and during the rebellion of 1916 commanded the 3rd Battalion at Boland's Mill. Though sentenced to death, his sentence was reprieved and commuted to penal servitude for life. De Valera became the only surviving commandant of the 1916 Rebellion. However, he was released on General Amnesty in 1917 and later that year was elected Sinn Féin M.P. for East Clare.

In 1926, De Valera founded Fianna Fáil following his resignation as President of Sinn Féin due to a split regarding the issue of abstentionism. He would remain elected as a parliamentary representative for Clare until his election as President in 1959.

He was President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State and Minister for External Affairs from 1932-37. Following the enactment of the Constitution by the people, Eamon De Valera became Taoiseach and continued his position as Minister for External Affairs from 1937 – 48. He became Taoiseach again from 1951 – 54, and 1957 – 59. On June 25th, 1959, he was inaugurated as the third President of Ireland. He served as President from 1959 to 1973, consisting of two consecutive terms in office.

Eamon de Valera died on August 29th, 1975.

Access and use

UCD Special Collections

James Joyce Library, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 7149 | E: special.collections@ucd.ie