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Ex-prisoner Eamon de Valera campaigns in Clare
Detail of a picture of returned prisoners outside Dublin's Mansion House in June 1917. De Valera is in the centre. Eoin MacNeill is to his right. Photo: National Library of Ireland, NPA DEV67

Ex-prisoner Eamon de Valera campaigns in Clare

Ennis, 25 June 1917 - Eamon de Valera, who was recently released from prison in England, is campaigning vigorously in the East Clare for the by-election.

Mr de Valera is attempting to win the seat made vacant by the death, in France, of the late MP for the area, Major Willie Redmond. The seat has been held by the Irish Parliamentary Party since 1885 and Major Redmond had been returned unopposed in every election since 1900.

Despite warnings from Cardinal Logue against priests taking part in political campaigns, several clergymen have appeared on stage at de Valera’s meetings.

De Valera’s journey has taken him to Bruree, Ennis, Cratloe, Sixmilebridge, Tulla and elsewhere. In many towns he was welcomed with flying flags and burning barrels.

Addressing a crowd in Ennis Mr de Valera said he stood for the Sinn Féin flag, not for the Union Jack. He denied he was a murderer but if the Irish people said he was a murderer, then he would hang his head. He asked the people of East Clare to say that the men who sacrificed their lives for Ireland were not murderers.

Document from the Chief Secretary's about a request for increased military presence in Clare after shots were fired at Sinn Féin supporters. Click here for full document. (Image: National Archive of Ireland, CSO RP 1917 15904)

Although there is large, and growing, support for his candidacy, there is also significant opposition, which on occasion has become violent. A party of Sinn Féin supporters travelling by car were held up and fired upon at a road blockade near Tomgreany. A total of 15 shots were fired, piercing a petrol tank and some luggage, but no one was injured.

The election will be held on 10 July and will see Mr de Valera compete for the seat with the Irish Parliamentary Party’s candidate, Patrick Lynch, KC.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.