The Man Who Made Ireland

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The people of Ireland never fully accepted British rule, andover the centuries each generation say the emergence of those whosought independence or, at the very least, a measure of autonomyfor Ireland. Those demonstrations on the part of the Irish peoplefrequently led to uprisings which ended in defeat at the hands ofthe British government. Such was also the fate of those who raisedthe standard of rebellion in Dublin in 1916. But, from thewreckage of the Easter Rising emerged two exceptionalindividuals—Michael Collins and Eamon de Valera.

It was Collins and de Valera who captured the imagination of theIrish people and the world during the Anglo-Irish War (1918-1921)which led to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1921. Unfortunately, Collins and de Valera took different paths regardingthe peace settlement which ended the war, and the result was civilwar. This internecine conflict ultimately led to Collins’assassination in 1922 and consequent divisions in Irish politicswhich remain to this day.

It is not uncommon for biographers to develop an emotionalattachment, for good or ill, to the object of their attention. This work bespeaks a partisanship which diminishes itseffectiveness, and occasionally calls its credibility intoquestion. While THE MAN WHO MADE IRELAND is a vast improvementover previous hagiographies and polemics, the definitive account ofthe man and his times is yet to come.