An interview with Éamon de Valera

I thought I’d share this old film that I came across a few days ago. It dates from 1955, at which time Éamon de Valera was leader of the opposition. It is quite a strange film. Notice how the camera position keeps changing as does the placing of the interviewer (Professor Curtis Baker Bradford), who at one point is standing up near to the sitting interviewee in a way that looks very unnatural. Notices the frequent changes of camera angle too. I’m guessing they had to change reels quite frequently and the camera operator used those opportunities to change the set up. It all looks rather stilted with de Valera not at all relaxed but that might have been typical of him. He seems particularly uncomfortable, though, talking about the Easter Rising of 1916: notice how he skips from the Proclamation of the Republic directly to the surrender. I’ve heard it said that Éamon de Valera was not a particularly effective leader of the battalion at he commanded Boland’s Mill during the uprising (which would not be surprising because he had no real military training). Some even say that he had some sort of breakdown while under fire and couldn’t really function during the fighting. It may just be what his political opponents who spread that around, of course. Nobody who wasn’t there will ever really know.

P.S. Apart from anything else, this film shows what a great job Alan Rickman did at “doing” Éamon de Valera in the film Michael Collins

7 Responses to “An interview with Éamon de Valera”

  1. His voice and accent remind me of those of Wolfgang Rindler. I don’t know where Rindler learned English. He studied at the University of Liverpool. If he also learned English there, perhaps he was influenced by the large Irish population in Liverpool, though neither he nor de Valera has what many think of as a typical Irish accent. Is it a Limerick perhaps?

    • Check out Wolfgang after about 1:32:40:

    • telescoper Says:

      De Valera was born in New York City, but moved to Ireland when he was two. He was brought up in Limerick after that until he moved to Dublin.

      • Right, so I would expect few if any traces of an American accent, because he lived there only two years and in any case his mother was from Ireland and presumably he learned most of his English from her (most children can understand essentially everything they are told by two, even if they don’t speak until later*). So is it a typical Limerick accent?

        The physicist and the prime minister
        de Valera and Wolfgang Rindler
        Moved as children, so because
        They were both born abroad
        Neither was a completely native speaker

        ___
        * My two youngest children have a (relatively mild) form of autism (but not Asperger syndrome), which is probably why neither spoke until three or four. Once after collecting the youngest one from his therapy session, when he was about three, long before he started speaking, the therapist remarked that he completely understood the use of the subjunctive mood. 🙂

      • telescoper Says:

        I didn’t speak until I was past the age of three.

      • True: Einstein was a late speaker (at one point his parents thought that he might be mentally retarded). False: His first sentence was “The soup is too hot” and when asked why he hadn’t spoken before, he said that until then everything had been OK.

        It’s also false that he was a bad pupil at school. The troubles he had were related to his protest against the discipline (which led to the remark from a teacher that nothing would become of him), not because he was a poor pupil academically. Some confusion might also be due to the fact that he later moved from (what is now) Germany to (what had been for a long time and still is) Switzerland; in Germany, the best marks are the lowest numbers, while in Switzerland it is the other way around.

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