Papers of Daniel F. Cohalan
John Devoy was born in Kill, County Kildare in 1842. His father was a small farmer in the area. The tragedy of ‘An Gorta Mor’ or the Great Famine would see the family loose its small land holding. At the age of 19 Devoy joined the French Foreign legion. Later he returned to Ireland and became involved with the secretive Irish republican group known as the Fenian Brotherhood. Devoy was jailed in 1866 for what the British Government viewed as ‘seditious activities’. Five years later he was released on the condition of exile to New York. His efforts for Irish republicanism took on a new dynamic and vigor when he reached the United States. Devoy played an influential role in nearly all aspects of Irish America. In 1875 he helped organize the famous Catalpa escape of 5 Fenian prisoners. In the 1880s he worked with Irish political agitators Michel Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell in the ‘New Departure ‘ project. Later, he helped to finance and plan the Easter rebellion of 1916. John Devoy a former member of the AIHS gave a massive contribution to the cause of Irish nationhood and was an ever-present and iconic figure in Irish American political life for nearly 50 years.
Described as ‘the most significant figure in the political history of Modern Ireland’ Eamon DeValera led an exhilarating political career that lasted over 50 years. ‘Dev’ as he would became known was born on the 14th of October 1882 in the Nursery and Childs Hospital on Lexington Avenue in New York City. His mother Catherine Coll was an Irish immigrant from Buree in Co. Limerick. After moving to Brooklyn Coll met Juan Vivion DeValera, a sculptor by trade who had family roots in the Basque country and Cuba. Juan Vivion would die in 1884 and DeValera was taken by his uncle back to Co Limerick to be reared by his grandmother in 1885. Remaining in the United States his mother Catherine later re-married. Young ‘Dev’ was a diligent student attending the local national school at Bruree. Later upon entry to second level he won a scholarship to the prestigious and fee-paying Blackrock college in Dublin where he enrolled as a boarder. After completing second level education DeValera attended University College Dublin.
He was a strong enthusiast for the Irish language and joined the Gaelic League in 1908 an Irish cultural group focused on reviving and promoting the Irish language. In 1913 he joined the Irish Volunteers upon their formation. Active in the1916 Rising he faced a sentence of death for his role as a leader of the rebel offensive. Scheduled for May 8th the death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment leaving DeValera as one of the highest ranking 1916 veterans to survive. Elected in the East Clare by-election of 1917 he led the rise of Sinn Fein as a political force and was recognized for this by being appointed party leader in October 1917, beginning a long trajectory as a political leader. During the anglo-Irish war he spent long periods in the United States fund raising and attempting to gain political support for recognition of an Irish Republic, independent from Britain. Including visits to the American Irish Historical Society during this time. The culmination of the anglo-Irish conflict between 1919 and 1921 resulted in the Anglo Irish treaty. This treaty fell short of the Republicans demands. The British government offered a form of self government for 26 of Ireland’s 32 counties and the formation of such a government was dependent on the participants swearing an oath of allegiance to a British monarch. This agreement was rejected by DeValera and split the republican movement. These circumstances led to the tragedy of the Irish Civil War in 1922. DeValera emerged as the political figurehead of those who militarily opposed the Treaty; namely the anti treaty IRA. The civil war would end in defeat for the anti treaty side. After further jail time on this occasion ordered by the new Irish Free State authorities; DeValera re-entered the political scene with Sinn Fein in 1924. Quickly he became frustrated at what he judged to be the ‘dogmatic tendencies’ of Sinn Fein and the IRA on the issue of entering the parliament earlier installed by the anglo-Irish treaty. Eventually after leaving Sinn Fein DeValera founded Fianna Fail (Soldiers of Destiny) in 1926. This political party would dominate Irish political life for the next century. After some political maneuvering he eventually brought Fianna Fail into power in the Irish Free State in 1932. While in power he used legislative powers to revoke the hated oath of allegiance which had proved such a stumbling block for his political endeavors and an on-going issue of concern for his long time supporters. Dev would make probably his biggest personal impact on Irish society with the drafting of the 1937 constitution. In this document, (which was adopted as the official constitution of the state) it was declared that the national territory of Ireland encompassed all 32 counties of Ireland and not just the 26 under its jurisdiction. Also noted was the ‘special position of the Catholic Church’ cementing the clergies influence on all matters in the state. Later he led Ireland through the second World War adopting a policy of neutrality. Retiring from parliamentary politics in 1959 he took up the largely ceremonial role of the Irish presidency. A position he held for the next 14 years. Eamon DeValera died in August 1975 aged 92, he is buried adjoining the republican plot at Glasnevin cemetery. His impact on a developing Irish society is undeniable and he influenced to a large degree the national conscious-nous throughout his career and beyond.
Harry Boland was born in Dublin City in 1887. Boland became involved in nationalist and republican activities from a young age including the GAA and the Gaelic league. Boland joined the Irish volunteers in 1915, participated in the 1916 Rising, serving a jail sentence in England. Continuing his republican activities in the years after Boland was an active IRA member during the Anglo Irish war between 1919-21. During this time he helped organize De Valeras tour of North America in 1919. Boland was a close confidant of Michael Collins but the signing of the Anglo Irish treaty in 1921 saw the two former comrades take opposing sides in the Irish Civil War. Boland was shot in disputed circumstances at the Grand Hotel in Skerries in Fingal, north county Dublin in August 1922
Hurst, William Randolph
Lodge, Henry Cabot
Joe McGarrity was born in Carrikmore County Tyrone in 1874. Emigrating to the United States as an 18 year old he established himself as a successful businessman. Living in Philadelphia he started out in menial jobs and eventually purchased a public house with help from family. Advancing from this he acquired a wholesale wine and liquor retailer. He was involved in various forms of business throughout his life, including a stint on the stock exchange. McGarrity joined Clann na Gael in 1893 and held a lifelong commitment to the ideal of the establishment of a 32 county Irish Republic. He was instrumental in the raising of 20,000 US dollars for the Irish volunteers purchasing of arms in 1914 which arrived into Howth that summer in the famous gunrunning incident. McGarrity contributed a considerable sum himself for this event and was renowned for his generosity towards Irish causes. He liaised with John Devoy and German authorities and others during the planning of the 1916 Rising. In Philadelphia he established the Irish Press newspaper to promote the Irish Republican viewpoint which came under heightened scrutiny as America entered the war against Germany. McGarrity was also central to the establishment of the Friends of Irish Freedom collective a crucial funnel of financial support for the IRA and Sinn Fein during the Anglo-Irish war between 1919-1921. McGarrity rejected the1921 treaty and sided with his ally and friend Eamon DeValera. The Tyrone native continued to supply finance to the anti treaty forces. until the very end of the Irish Civil War. Disagreeing with Devalera over the establishment of Fianna Fail in 1926 the two men completely departed from any form of relationship when DeValera outlawed the IRA during his first term in government.
McGarrity remained committed to his physical force republican beliefs all of his life and supported the IRA campaign led by Sean Russell which began in 1939. Joe McGarrity died in August 1940 suffering from cancer.