The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Judging Dev: A Reassessment of the Life and Legacy of Eamon De Valera

by  Diarmaid Ferriter
€ 30.00

Book Details

Published by Royal Irish Academy

October 2007


Number of pages: 396

ISBN: 9781904890287


Irish Book Awards - Irish Book of the Year - Ireland, 2007 - Winner


PDF icon Resource Pack

Eamon de Valera is the most controversial figure in modern Irish history and as this book argues, the most misunderstood. ‘Dev’ has been characterised as a stern, un-bending, devious and divisive politician, in scholarship and in popular culture. Here, Diarmaid Ferriter investigates the far more complex personal and public identities of the revolutionary fighter, Fianna Fáil party founder, taoiseach (prime minister) and president who reimagined the state both literally, in its first constitution, and figuratively, offering a much mocked vision of Ireland as a pre-industrial, pastoral island. Ferriter presents an in-depth analysis of De Valera using previously unpublished letters, government documents and photographs to chronicle his long and remarkable career. One such letter contradicts the conventional wisdom that de Valera escaped execution in 1916 because of his American citizenship, offering the leader’s personal account of events. Engagingly written and tactile to hold, Judging Dev won four prestigious Irish book awards and awakened a national conversation through a parallel RTÉ radio series and RIA exhibition. When an Irish taoiseach launched this book in 2007 it was fittingly said it would be ‘equally invaluable in classroom, in college and in the home’.

In 2007 the Royal Irish Academy worked with RTÉ on a new RTÉ Radio 1 radio documentary series called Judging Dev. The series started on 28 October 2007 to coincide with the 125th anniversary of the birth of Eamon de Valera and the 70th anniversary of the Constitution. The aim of the series was to re-examine de Valera’s important and somewhat controversial legacy. The series was presented by Diarmaid Ferriter and was devised to accompany the book. You can listen back to the podcasts at the links below (please note: the podcasts are in mp3 format; you will need a player to listen to them):

Episode 1:  28 October 2007
Episode 2: 4 November 2007
Episode 3: 11 November 2007
Episode 4: 18 November 2007
Episode 5: 25 November 2007
Episode 6: 2 December 2007
Episode 7: 9 December 2007
Episode 8: 16 December 2007
Episode 9: 23 December 2007
Episode 10: 30 December 2007

The Royal Irish Academy, together with RTÉ and in collaboration with the Department of Education and Science’s History In-Service Team, facilitated the use of material included in Judging Dev in teaching history to Junior and Leaving Certificate students. A PDF version of the lesson plans is available for free download on the right hand side of this page.

Solve our book cover jigsaw puzzle here.

About the authors

Diarmaid Ferriter

Diarmaid Ferriter is Full Professor and Chair of Modern Irish History at UCD and author of numerous books, including The Transformation of Ireland 1900-2000 (2004), Occasions of Sin: Sex and Society in Modern Ireland (2009), Ambiguous Republic: Ireland in the 1970s (2012), The Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics (2019) and, most recently, Between Two Hells: The Irish Civil War (2021). He is a regular television and radio broadcaster and a weekly columnist with the Irish Times. In 2019 he was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy.