A Constitution is Born

On December 29, 1937, a new Ireland emerged, under a new Constitution. Eamon De Valera drafted a new Constitution that came into its own on this day seventy-eight years ago and the island was known thereafter as Eire or Ireland, as it remains to this day.

The new distinctions in the constitution were largely symbolic, but there were a few important changes. The biggest changes were those that made the previously mandatory pledge to the Crown obsolete, and that stated  Irish (not English) was the official language of the island. The new Constitution asserted the Irish identity and language at every turn and with force. When the British learned of it, they refused to accept the name for the whole of the island, making sure that their territory in the North could not be included. They also basically ignored the grab for independence.

So did many others. For many people in the world (including Ireland) this new constitution didn’t change much at all. Many governments continued to view Eire (Ireland) as a state in the British Commonwealth and did so until all governmental ties between the two countries were severed. This didn’t happen until over a decade later. However, from December 29th, 1937 on, this constitution has been in effect and relatively unchanged, despite questionable clauses about what a traditional family is and what roles or rights women should have. (thanks De Valera)

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4 thoughts on “A Constitution is Born

  1. oglach says:

    Great post. Especially the ending. For a fatherless child whose wife taught him Irish…not much respect for women. (I ‘ll wager it was a different story behind closed doors.)

  2. Despite all its flaws the Bunreacht na hÉireann (Constitution of Ireland) has remained one of the constitutional templates for new democracies around the world, from the anti-colonial push in the 1950s and ’60s to the post-Cold War states of eastern Europe. Which is a good thing to be proud of. 🙂

    • It is an amazing document that deserves pride and respect – I hope it didn’t seem like I was belittling it. I intended to be snarky about De Valera’s dim view of women, not the Constitution itself.

      • Absolutely not, no belittling detected, and you were quite right to be snarky about de Valera and the Catholicisation of an otherwise fine document 😉 He needed the RCC hierarchy onboard in face of fierce opposition from the former Pro-Treaty parties to any change in “their” Free State constitution. However he went too far in that accommodation. Such is politics.

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