Sinéad de Valera

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Sinéad de Valera, also known as Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin and Sinéad Bean de Valera[1] (Irish pronunciation: [ɕɪnʲeːdʲ bʲeːn̪ˠ dʲɛ vʲalʲɛrˠa]; 3 June 1878 – 7 January 1975), was the wife of the Irish republican leader and third President of Ireland, Éamon de Valera.

Background[edit]

She was born Jane O'Flanagan in Balbriggan. Her father, Laurence, was a carpenter and was a native of Kildare who moved to Balbriggan and married a local girl, Margaret Byrne. The couple emigrated to New York where their daughter, Mary, was born in 1871.[2] The family had returned to Balbriggan by 1873 and Sinéad was born there in 1878. She trained as a teacher and worked first in Edenderry, before taking up a post at a national school in Dorset Street, Dublin in around 1901.[2] The 1901 census records her as 'Jane Flanagan', living with her parents and three siblings at 6 Richmond Cottages in Dublin. [3]

Marriage and children[edit]

In her spare time, she taught Irish at the Leinster College of the Gaelic League in Parnell Square.[4] One of her Irish students was Éamon de Valera, then a teacher of mathematics. On 8 January 1910, they were married. Together they had five sons, Vivion, Éamon, Brian, Ruairi and Terence (Terry), and two daughters, Máirín and Emer. On 9 February 1936, Brian, then aged twenty, was killed in a riding accident in the Phoenix Park. Not long after they married, she changed her name to the Irish spelling, Sinéad.

Due to a combination of his imprisonment, political activities, and fundraising tours of the United States, the family saw relatively little of Éamon de Valera in the 1916-23 period. He was also away from home frequently during the early years of his political career.[5] Sinéad de Valera played little or no public role during her husband's fifty years in public life.

Literary output[edit]

Sinéad de Valera wrote thirty books for children in both English and Irish. [6][7] Among her works were plays such as Cluichidhe na Gaedhilge (1935) and story collections such as The Emerald Ring and Other Irish Fairy Stories (1951), The Stolen Child and Other Stories (1961), The Four-leafed Shamrock (1964) and The Miser's Gold (1970).[4]

Death[edit]

Sinéad de Valera died on 7 January 1975, at the age of 96, the day before what would have been the de Valeras' sixty-fifth wedding anniversary. Éamon de Valera died nearly eight months later, on 29 August 1975, aged 92. The couple are buried together, along with their son Brian, at Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Sinéad wife of de Valera". This old form of address for married women has now largely, though not entirely, fallen from use.
  2. ^ a b Cullen, Sean (2009-04-17). "Sinead De Valera and her County Kildare Connections". Kildare Nationalist. Seamuscullen.net. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  3. ^ "Census of Ireland, 1901". National Archives of Ireland. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  4. ^ a b "Sinéad de Valera". Ricorso.net. 1910-01-08. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Famous Returns from 1901 and 1911 | Census". Central Staistics Office. Retrieved 2014-02-23. 
  7. ^ Associated Press (1972-06-01). "Wife of De Valera Marks 94th Birthday". Portsmouth Times. p. 20. Retrieved 2014-02-23.