Eamon de Valera was born in New York but brought up in Limerick. He studied mathematics at the Royal University and, dedicated to the Irish Language, joined the Gaelic League in 1908.
He also joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and during the Easter Rising in 1916 commanded the Third Battalion at a bakery, Boland's Mill.
He was sentenced to death for his involvement but, unlike other commandants, was reprieved. It has been suggested that this was due in part to him being American by birth.
In any case after being released he was elected MP for East Clare in a by-election before being arrested again, along with other Sinn Fein leaders, for alleged complicity in a German plot (Gibney 2017).
This time de Valera escaped from Lincoln jail. Elected first President of the Dail, he made his way to America where between 1919 and 1920 he raised $5 million for Ireland's cause.
Back in Ireland he clashed with Michael Collins over the conduct of the Anglo-Irish War. He also repudiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty which Collins negotiated and resigned as President after it was accepted by the Dail.
However, backing as he did "external association" with (but not membership of) the Commonwealth he found himself side-lined by more trenchant anti-Treaty forces. In 1916, dissatisfied with Sinn Fein, he founded Fianna Fail. He wanted, after the Civil War, an alternative non-militaristic outlet for those with republican sympathies (Gibney 2017).