by Dave Hannigan
In June 1919 Eamon de Valera stowed away on a liner bound for New York and walked into the Waldorf-Astoria using the title ‘President of Ireland’. He spent eighteen months billeted in the most expensive hotel in the world. From this luxurious base, de Valera criss-crossed America by plane, boat and train throughout 1919 and 1920, publicising his nation’s plight and raising more than $5 million for the cause of Irish independence.
While the War of Independence raged back home, de Valera was supporting the cause with packed engagements from Madison Square Garden to San Francisco including a total audience of over a million people. Along the way he underwent a harsh and unforgiving political education that better equipped him to dominate Irish politics for decades.