Eamon De Valera
Something for the weekend. The Clancy Brothers pay tribute to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Dublin which, although completely unsuccessful, started a chain of events which led to Irish independence, the dream of Irish men and women for centuries. The songs featured are Legion of the Rearguard, the Foggy Dew and God Bless England. Ironically, Legion of the Rearguard has nothing to do with the battle for Irish independence. It was written during the Irish Civil War which was fought in 1922-23. The title of the song is from Eamon de Valera, who led the rebels and who, ironically, would end up leading independent Ireland for most of the rest of the Twentieth Century, and who admitted defeat in the Irish Civil War with his usual purple prose:
Soldiers of the Republic! Legion of the Rearguard! The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would be in vain, and continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the National interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.
De Valera of course was referring in his phrase to “those who have destroyed the Republic” to men like Michael Collins, who was killed in the Civil War, who were responsible for the creation of an independent Ireland. De Valera, at the end of the Irish fight for independence, realizing that the only terms that the British would grant which would lead to an independent Ireland would be unacceptable to many hard core Irish Republicans, refused to engage in the negotiations with the British himself, sending Collins instead, over the protests of Collins. When Collins came back with the best treaty terms possible that would be granted by the British, de Valera denounced him and the treaty and the Irish Civil War was the result. De Valera therefore got the benefit of the treaty terms, an Irish Free State, while still able to pose as an uncompromising champion of complete independence, something which benefited him politically to no end, for over half a century after Collins died in the Civil War de Valera started after he rejected the treaty. Very shrewd of de Valera. The morality I will leave for the reader to judge. Continue reading