A Memoir by Terry de ValeraTuesday 01 Jun 2004
Currach Press, €24.99
Terry de Valera, the seventh child of Eamon and Sinéad de Valera, here gives an account of his own life and the people and events that affected it. His story, however, is overshadowed by that of his parents. This tale is full of meandering anecdotes with less depth than might be expected from someone so closely connected with his subjects.
Though there have been reams written about Eamon de Valera, a representation of the man by his son was always going to be of interest. It's quite surprising then that this account does little to engage the reader. de Valera sets out to refute allegations made against his father, but his main concerns are in proving that Dev was not illegitimate, that he had a close relationship with his mother and that he had a sense of humour. We are given very little information about the major events of his career or the logic and reasoning behind his actions.
de Valera fares better where he uses his mother's records of her own life. Sinéad de Valera committed her remembrances to paper at his request and her account allows a more personal and deeper insight into history. From these records, de Valera presents an image of a strong, dedicated woman with great loyalty to her family and country.
Being related to your subject doesn't necessarily give you the upper hand when it comes to writing about it. What de Valera does is give a sentimental view, adding little to the historical debate. He provides little solid evidence, relying mainly on other peoples' verification. Ultimately, de Valera cannot detach himself from his subject and his memoir suffers for it.