How Dev saved lost pets in 1916
Published 21/02/2016 | 02:30
He's been described as both stern and austere, but Eamon de Valera was an animal lover who insisted abandoned pets and horses caught up in the Rising received care, archives from the Dublin Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) reveal.
Dev insisted that the dogs and cats housed in the DSPCA home next to Boland's Mill on Grand Canal Quay be released when rebels he commanded took over the mill on April 24, 1916.
The DSPCA's 1916 report says: "The home was taken possession of by the insurgents during the Rebellion, the animals being liberated, but no material damage to the structure was done."
In the DSPCA's records it states that he arranged the care of the Boland Mills horses until food ran out and then "turned them loose in the streets rather than see them starve".
He then released the dogs and cats from the DSPCA as he feared "they would starve or suffer as a result of fire or gun shots".
The dogs and cats that Dev helped escape the crossfire had popular pet names of the day - 'Topsy', 'Gypsy', 'Wee Wee' and 'Nell'.
Meanwhile, a charcoal sketch of De Valera by Sean Keating is to go under the hammer at Whyte's auctioneers sale at the RDS on February 29.
The signed portrait is guiding for between €3,500 and €4,500.
The records also reveal parks keeper James Kearney was cited for bravery for insisting he be allowed into St Stephen's Green to feed the ducks every day during the Rising, a request that was granted by both sides through a temporary ceasefire.
"His charges were well looked after and fed by him and were very little perturbed by the bullets flying over their heads," the archive records.