Éamon de Valera had presented himself as ‘President of Ireland’ during his trip although he was not recognised in this capacity by the US government. De Valera evoked generous financial, emotional and political good will for Ireland during his eighteen month trip. He spoke at Madison Square Garden and Fenway Park drawing audiences in some cases of more than twenty thousand people. Always a divisive figure, even among Irish-Americans, he created many enemies and many friends. In his book ‘De Valera in America’, author Dave Hannigan repeats Yeats’ oft quoted comment about the New York born De Valera “I was rather disappointed — A living argument rather than a living man, all propaganda, no human life, but not bitter hysterical or unjust.”
Photo: Éamon de Valera prepares to plant the short-lived “Tree of Liberty” at Notre Dame, Oct 1919. A mere week after De Valera planted the tree, a student of the ‘Unionist persuasion’, deracinated the tree and threw it in one of the placid lakes flanking the famous grotto.