The Emergency: Neutral Ireland 1939–45 by Brian Girvin - review by Mary Kenny

Mary Kenny

De Valera In the Dock

The Emergency: Neutral Ireland 1939–45


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There is an anecdote – apocryphal, but illuminating – about three Irish aircrew during the Battle of Britain. The pilot is from Cork, the co-pilot from Tipperary and the navigator from Derry. ‘Say what you like about De Valera,’ shouts the Corkman as the firepower whizzes around him during an aerial battle, ‘but at least he kept us out of the war!’

The story illustrates a significant Irish capacity for ambivalence: on the one hand, the majority of the Irish people were quite solidly behind their leader, Eamon de Valera, in committing to neutrality during the Second World War. On the other, people were – and remain – proud of the number

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