A wonderful signing-off from historian Ronan Fanning who passed away in January at the age of 75! Of particular interest here is the analysis of the dynamic between de Valera and the plenipotentiaries (chiefly Griffith and Collins) during the lengthy Treaty negotiations. The author attributes de Valera’s call for a rejection of the terms reached by the delegation to a perceived slight to his authority – implying a combination of petulance and bumbling ineptitude on the part of de Valera. Sidelined in the ensuing conflict, Fanning charts his rise from the political wilderness and his emergence as the formidable statesman who so effectively forged Ireland’s sovereignty. He also presents a robust defence of the much-maligned (and misunderstood) WWII policy of neutrality
Chief amongst curiosities is “totty-twigging” (watching girls go by), a favoured pastime of the young man who would go on to become the most divisive figure of 20th century Irish politics.