3rd Year: De Valera and Fianna Fáil

A Fianna Fáil election poster from 1932.
From Irish Election Literature.
Main Page: Ireland After Independence

After ten years in government, Cumann na nGaedheal lost the 1932 election, and de Valera and his Fianna Fáil party took charge for the first time. Since the civil war, the Anti-Treaty Sinn Féin had abstained from the Dáil. De Valera argued that if they kept that up, they would end up being irrelevant (unimportant) to the voters. Other people in the party disagreed with him, so de Valera and his supporters left Sinn Féin and founded their own party, called Fianna Fáil in 1926. Although they were still opposed to the Oath, the Fianna Fáil TDs still entered the Dáil, claiming that even though they were taking the Oath, it was an "empty formula" which didn't mean anything.

Once in government, de Valera set about "dismantling" (taking apart) the Anglo-Irish Treaty. He took Ireland further away from Britain by abolishing the Oath, removing the office of the Governor-General (the King's representative in Dublin), and regaining the Treaty ports. He also introduced Bunreacht na hÉireann, a new constitution, which we still use today.

This was all done by the beginning of 1938, but by then events in Europe were pointing to the fact that another great war was coming. Ireland would have suffered greatly if it had been in the war, so when World War II broke out, de Valera declared Ireland neutral. Although people had to endure rationing, censorship and still the occasional bombing, Ireland was spared the devastation that most of the rest of Europe faced during the war. The war ended in 1945, and Fianna Fáil's time in government lasted until 1948, when they finally lost an election. They had been in power for 16 years, and in those 16 years they had changed quite a lot...

Continue to Inter-Party Governments & Lemass




  • Dismantling the Treaty: Abolishing the Oath and the Governor-General, The new Constitution, President of the Executive Council renamed Taoiseach, an elected President.
  • Dealing with Threats: The Blueshirts, the IRA.
  • The Economy: Land Annuities, Economic war with Britain, Protectionism.
  • The Emergency (WWII): Neutrality (measures taken), threats, rationing, black market, emigration.





Click here for exam questions you can be asked about this topic. (Higher and Ordinary)

A person living in Northern or Southern Ireland during the war years, 1939-1945
(2009 HL, 2014 OL)





Éamon de Valera, c.1930s.
The History of Fianna Fáil
The Fianna Fáil website has an informative page on its history. Because it's a party writing about its own history, beware of bias. In the "Related" box, you can see links to a timeline, and de Valera's speech to the first meeting of Fianna Fáil.  

Fianna Fáil: Éamon de Valera
The same website has a biography of de Valera, which also can be biased. Still, there are interesting links to quotes by de Valera and a timeline of his (long) life.

UCC: Éamon de Valera
UCC Multitext biography and photo gallery of de Valera.   

Bunreacht na hÉireann
Have a read through the constitution here if you like. You can also buy copies of it in most book shops for about €2.  

The Economic War and the Second World War
An overview of Irish history in this time.  

Article: General Eoin O'Duffy: Ireland's Answer to Mussolini
This is an internet article (so there will be bias) about Eoin O'Duffy, the leader of the Blueshirts, and how he embraced fascism in the 1930s.  

Irish POW camps in the Emergency
The Curragh website has a piece on the Curragh camp's time as a POW camp for Allied and (mostly) Axis troops who crashed in Ireland during the Emergency.

BBC News: Spitfire Down: The WWII camp where the Allies and the Germans mixed
A BBC News article from 2011 about Irish POW camps. It's an article, so you know what I'm going to tell you to watch out for.   

Ireland During the Second World War
This is an interesting PDF presentation on Ireland in the Emergency. No, I don't know what the hats mean.

DeValera's Response to Churchill's Speech