De Valera in the Irish Census Records, 1901 & 1911
Niall C.E.J. O’Brien
Éamon de Valera recorded his name into the history of twentieth century Ireland. But how did history record him in the years before 1916. History before 1916 didn’t know anybody called Éamon de Valera. Instead the documents knew him as Edward de Valera from County Limerick. On 1st April 1901 Edward de Valera was a boarder at a school in Williamstown Avenue in Blackrock, Co. Dublin. There were twenty-eight students in the school as recorded by headmaster, John Murphy. Edward de Valera was 18 years old and gave his place of birth as Co. Limerick. He could read and write but didn’t say what languages he could speak.
In 1901 Jane O’Flanagan (aged 22) was a national teacher who could speak Irish and English. Jane’s first teaching position was in Edenderry but by 1901 she was teaching in Dorset Street in Dublin. Her sister Brigid (aged 16) was also a national teacher at moniterse class. Brigid could also speak Irish and English as could their father, Laurence O’Flanagan, (aged 62) a carpenter from Co. Kildare. Laurence’s eldest daughter, Mary (aged 30), was born in New York and was a dress maker. His son, Laurence junior was a tailor. Laurence’s wife was Margaret O’Flanagan, nee Byrne (aged 58), was from County Dublin. In 1901 they lived at number 6 Richmond Cottages in the Mountjoy area of Dublin. Laurence and Margaret moved to New York before 1871 but returned to Ireland and Balbiggin, Co. Dublin in 1873.
By 1911 Jane O’Flanagan had changed her name to the Irish form and thus became known as Sinéad O’Flanagan. On 8th January 1910 she married Edward de Valera of County Limerick and formerly of New York. Edward was then a math professor in Dublin. It would be awhile before Edward de Valera adopted the Irish form of his name and become the Éamon de Valera of fact and legend. On Sunday, 2nd April 1911 Sinéad de Valera filled up the census form and signed her name in the place reserved for the signature of the enumerator. Subsequently Patrick Lynch, the said enumerator, crossed out Sinéad’s name and wrote his own name above hers and filled in Edward de Valera in the place reserved for the signature of the head of the household. In 1911 the de Valera family were living at number 33 Morehampton Terrace, in the West Pembroke area of Dublin. Sinéad said that Edward de Valera was 28 years old, a Catholic, could read and write. Edward de Valera’s occupation was BA Dip in Education, Math Professor. Sinéad said that Edward could speak English and Irish while she wrote that she could speak Irish and English. They were married one year (8th January 1910) and had one son called Vivian de Valera, aged 3 months, who couldn’t read. Sinéad de Valera was 32 years old in 1911 and a Catholic and born in County Dublin. Sinéad said that Edward was born in New York. They had a female general domestic servant named Mary Coffey, aged 25 from County Dublin who couldn’t read. The house had nine rooms and three windows in the front elevation with no outbuildings.
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