The “Devil’s Era”
The Life and Times of Eamon Devalera

1831 Beginning of National School system in Ireland.
1837 Accession of Victoria to the throne of Great Britain.
1856 Birth of mother, Catherine (“Kate”) Coll, in Bruree, County Limerick.  (Bruree is about 15 miles south of Limerick City and was until 1746 the site of the half- yearly meetings of Ireland’s bards.)
1858 Founding of the “secret” Irish Republican Brotherhood as a “physical-force” alternative to O’Connellite strategies.
1867 FENIAN UPRISINGS & Execution of Manchester Martyrs
1879 Mother emigrates to America to live with her aunt in Brooklyn, finding employment there as a domestic servant to the Giraud family. Meets future husband, Vivion Devalera, a Spaniard employed by the Girauds as a music teacher for their children.


Born, October 14th, in New York city.

Birth of James Joyce in Dublin.


Foundation of Gaelic Athletic Association (by Michael Cusack, in Thurles, Tipperary).

1885 Death of father in Colorado from consumption. Mother forced to return to work, leaving him in care of another Bruree emigrant.

1886 (?)

In the company of his Uncle Ned, emigrates to Ireland to live with grandmother, Uncle Pat and Aunt Hannie on a small farm in Bruree.

Prime Minister Gladstone and the first “Home Rule” Bill defeated.


Mother remarries in America, Aunt Hannie emigrates to America.

1891 DEATH of PARNELL (October 6).
1893 Founding of Gaelic League by Douglas Hyde and Eoin MacNeill.

Gladstone’s second “Home Rule” bill passes the House of Commons but is overwhelmingly defeated in the House of Lords.

1896 Following mother’s denial of request to return to America, begins two years of study in the Christian Brothers’ school at Charleville (now Rathluirc) to which he walked seven miles each way.
1898 Wins scholarship to attend Blackrock College in Dublin, run by the Holy Ghost Fathers. Attends for five years, discovering a talent and passion for mathematics.

Yeats & Lady Gregory found the Irish Literary Theater

Arthur Griffin founds the United Irishman (later renamed Sinn Fein)

1899-02 THE BOER WAR
1900 Maud Gonne founds Inghinidhe na hEireann
1901 Death of Queen Victoria and accession of Edward VII.
1903 Begins a two-year stint as a teacher of mathematics at the Holy Ghost Fathers’ Rockwell College in Cashel (County Tipperary)

Yeats & Lady Gregory open Abbey Theater (December 27).

Joyce writes Dubliners Not published until 1914.

1907 Riots in Abbey Theater greet production of Synge’s Playboy of the Western World.
1908 Joins the Gaelic League. Among the teachers under whom he studies Gaelic is his future wife, Sinead Ni Fhlannigain.
1910 Marries Sinead, with whom he has eight children over the course of their 60-year marriage.

King George V assumes throne of Great Britain.

1912 Receives appointment as lecturer in mathematics and mathematical physics at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, Ireland’s largest and most famous training ground for future priests.



Lockout in Dublin.

Third “Home Rule” Bill defeated by House of Lords.

Enrolls with the Irish Volunteers (the nationalist response to the Ulster Volunteers) and becomes a battalion-commander. Accommodates with the IRB.


OUTBREAK of FIRST WORLD WAR (August 3rd and 4th)

“Home Rule” bill suspended.

Volunteer movement splits into pro-War “National Volunteers” and conscription-resisting, pro-German “Irish Volunteers.”

1915 Hyde resigns as president of the Gaelic League.

David Lloyd George becomes Prime Minister of Great Britain. Retains position until 1922.

THE EASTER REBELLION, April 24-29. (Setting of 0’ Casey’s The Plough and the Stars)

Commands battalion at Boland’s Mill, the last post to surrender. Imprisoned until June 1917.

Execution (May 3rd through 12th) of 16 leaders of the Rebellion. Spared (along with Markievicz)

Publication of Joyce’s Portrait...



Count (George Noble) Plunkett, father of executed Easter-Rebellion leader, Joseph Mary Plunkett, stands and wins in February as a Sinn-Fein candidate for Westminster Parliament and then refuses to take his seat. Strategy duplicated by DeValera in July. Holds seat for 42 years.

With Griffin stepping aside to promote unity, elected President of Sinn Fein and of the “Irish Volunteers.” Retains both posts until 1922.


Lloyd George introduces “Military Service Bill” to conscript Irish into World War I, linked to promise of “Home Rule.”  Virtually all of Ireland (including the Church) unites behind Sinn Fein in opposition.

The “German Plot” arrests (May 17—18) : Sinn Fein leaders (including Devalera, Griffin, Maud Gonne and W.T. Cosgrave) arrested by English for alleged cooperation with German plans in World War I. Collins springs him.



First meeting of Dail Eireann. Election as president repeated/confirmed.

Dail Eirann declared illegal by English government.

Red Sox sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees


ANGLO-IRISH WAR (setting of O’Casey’s The Shadow of a Gunman

Raises millions of dollars in USA with Harry Boland, June 1919 to December of 1920. Quarrels repeatedly with Irish-American leadership.


Death (October 25) of Terrence MacSweeney after 74-day hunger-strike.

Execution (November 1) of Kevin Barry

“Bloody Sunday” (November 21)


Arrested and released to go to London. Signs TRUCE in Anglo-Irish War (July 9th).  Peace Conference begins in London in October



Treaty approved in January by Dail (64 to 57).  Resigns presidency and is succeeded by Griffin. General elections in June approve the Treaty far less narrowly.

First Constitution of Ireland.

Death of Arthur Griffin, August 12th.  Cosgrave succeeds him as President.  W.B. Yeats begins 6-yr. term as Senator.

Beginnings of CIVIL WAR: pro-treaty forces become the “Free State” army (led by Michael Collins) and the “anti-Treaty” forces (led by Liam Lynch) become the “Republicans” or the “Irregulars.” Republicans seize the Four Courts in Dublin on April 14th.  Re-taken by Free-Staters on June 30th.  Collins ambushed on Aug.21.



THE IRISH CIVIL WAR (setting of O’Casey’s Juno and the Paycock.)  Military phase lasts 10 months.

Free State government executes 77 Republican prisoners. (November 17th to May 2nd)

In May, 1923, Devalera orders a dumping of all IRA weapons.

1923 Arrested and held without trial for almost a year.  Cosgrave founds the political party Cumann na nGaedheal which eventually emerges as Fine Gael.
1925 Divorce outlawed in the Free State.

Leaves Sinn Fein party and founds Fianna Fail (the self-described Republican or “slightly constitutional party”)

The Plough and the Stars opens (February 8) at the Abbey Theater. Week-long riots, led by Hanna Sheehy Skeffington, begin on February 10.


Takes seat in Dail.

Death of Countess Markievicz


Censorship Board established.

Wall Street crash.

1930 Protesters in Limerick burn Alfred Hitchcock film-version of Juno and the Paycock.
1932 Statute of Westminster grants legislative autonomy to all dominions in the Commonwealth.

Leads Fianna Fail party to electoral victory with support of the Labor Party.  Cosgrave bows out democratically.  Elected president of the Council of the League of Nations.

Sinn Fein continues its (increasingly unpopular) stance of non-participation in the Dail.



Beginning of 5-yr. “Tariff War” with Great Britain.

Beginnings of 2-yr. anti-Catholic riots in six counties.


Operation in Zurich to save eyesight.

IRA declared an illegal organization in the Free State.


Abdication of England’s King Edward VIII

1937 Second Constitution of Ireland. Becomes Taoiseach and holds that position for next 11 years.
1938 Calls in vain for international Peace conference. Douglas Hyde elected first President of the Republic.

Declares neutrality in WORLD WAR II.

IRA begins bombing-campaign in England and in northern Ireland. Two IRA men executed in 1940. Over 650 persons imprisoned by 1943 in Curragh (County Kildare).

1945 End of WORLD WAR II. Expresses condolences (May 2) at German embassy.  Rebukes (May 16) the arrogance of Winston Churchill’s mockery of Irish neutrality.

Six operations to save detached retinas.

J. A. Costello and coalition-government defeat Fianna Fail.

1949 Ireland declares itself a Republic.
1950 Catholic hierarchy (at height of its influence?), subverts socializing of maternal healthcare.
1951-54 Elected Taoiseach again.
1955 Ireland admitted to the United Nations.  Takes on peace-keeping roles in Belgian Congo and Cyprus.
1957 Creation of Bord Failte. Tourist-income nearly doubles (to 80 million pounds) before eruptions in the North.
1957-59 Elected Taoiseach a third time.
1959 Elected President of Ireland. (Serves in that office for 14 consecutive years.)  On very same day, people reject his proposal to abolish proportional representation.
1962 First broadcast (Dec 31) of Telefis Eireann.
1966 Jack Lynch succeeds Sean Lemass as Taoiseach
1968 Sectarian riots in Derry
1970 Church lifts ban on Catholic students attending Trinity.

Popular referendum removes from the 1937 Constitution the clause honoring the special position of the Catholic Church.

Signs Ratification of the Treaty of Access to the European Union.

Direct-rule imposed by Britain in Northern Ireland. Garrett Fitzgerald publishes Toward a New Ireland, assumes leadership of Fine Gael (1977—87), and serves as Taoiseach for six years in that period.


Term as President of Ireland ends.

Liam Cosgrave (son of W.T.) leads new coalition government

1975 Death in Dublin at age 93.