Thursday 18 January 2018

Robert Schmuhl: Mystery of how Dev escaped 1916 firing squad has only deepened with time

Eamon de Valera speaking in exile in the United States, circa 1919.
Eamon de Valera speaking in exile in the United States, circa 1919.

Robert Schmuhl

Nearly a century later, the question still persists. How did Eamon de Valera escape a firing squad after the Easter Rising in 1916?

The sole surviving senior commander in the insurrection against British rule cheated death to develop into Ireland's dominant political figure of the 20th century. But why was he treated differently?

In the museum of Kilmainham Gaol, a visitor finds a large photograph of De Valera under arrest with this straightforward caption: "Sentenced to die like the other leaders, De Valera would have been the 15th man executed at Kilmainham had he not been saved by his American citizenship."

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