Eamon de Valera 1919 Revolver donated to the National Museum of Ireland

by Gazette Reporter
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The National Museum of Ireland marked an important donation by Éamon Ó Cuív of a revolver to the NMI.

Eamon de Valera received the revolver in New York, 1919 and deposited it with a family member in Rochester, New York, USA.   According to family oral history, the revolver was gifted to Eamon de Valera, probably for self-protection when he arrived in New York in June 1919 to promote the Irish Republic in his role as President of Dáil Éireann, when he spent 18 months (June 1919 to December 1920) in the USA raising money and political support for the new Irish Republic.

  It is likely that de Valera was given the revolver when he arrived by one of the Irish already there, such as Liam Mellows or Harry Boland, or a member of the Irish American groups such as Clan na Gael – Joseph McGarrity.  De Valera was not a person who would carry a personal protection weapon, and he gave it to his cousin Mary Connolly on a visit to family in Rochester, New York, whom he visited several times during his stay. At the time both his mother (Catherine de Valera, Wheelwright) and her sister and family were living in Rochester. 

  She in turn gave the gun to her grandson Allen Johnson.   In 2019 Éamon Ó Cuív and his wife Áine were invited to the St. Patrick Day parade where Éamon was Grand Marshall in recognition of the connection of Éamon de Valera with Rochester during his campaign in the USA in 1919.  At a family gathering Allen Johnson presented Éamon Ó Cuiv with the revolver, which he then decided to donate to the National Museum.

  Éamon Ó Cuiv commented; “It was both a great surprise and pleasure to be gifted this special memento of the historic visit by Éamon de Valera a hundred years previously and to rekindle the historic connection between Rochester New York and Ireland’s struggle for independence. I will always be deeply indebted to Allen for the generosity he showed in making this gift to me and my wife Áine”   Today the revolver was presented to Lynn Scarff, Director of the National Museum of Ireland, who noted that the NMI was honored to receive this important donation, which will greatly add to the National Collection and be retained securely for future generations at the National Museum of Ireland.    


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