Sunday 26 March 2017

Ladies' man Hyde fell for young nurse in Aras

A new book reveals our first President's rumoured affair with carer almost caused a constitutional crisis, writes Liam Collins

A colourful history: Eamon de Valera with Douglas Hyde and Sean T O Kelly
A colourful history: Eamon de Valera with Douglas Hyde and Sean T O Kelly
Liam Collins

Liam Collins

Until President Patrick Hillery famously called newspaper editors to the Aras to deny he was having an affair, it was always assumed that the head of state's residence in the Phoenix Park was an austere and dull retreat for aged men who did the State some service.

He may have been an unworldly Gaelic scholar and stamp collector, but a new book also reveals that Ireland's first President "had a reputation as a ladies' man" which almost caused a constitutional crisis in the 1940s.

Douglas Hyde, the Protestant leader of the Gaelic League, left his wife in Roscommon when he moved into Aras an Uachtarain in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, to become the first President of Ireland in 1938.

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