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Saturday, April 18, 2015

April 18, 1949: 26 Counties of Ireland Officially became the Republic of Ireland, Despite deValera Objection

Eamon deValera in Boston in March 1948
Éamon de Valera, who served as Ireland’s prime minister from 1933 through 1948, had remained forceful in calling for the unification of Ireland and for breaking away from the British Commonwealth. De Valera toured the US in March 1948, rallying Americans to help Ireland get rid of partition.  In Boston he said, "If people around the world would make it clear that partition cannot be, it would disappear." 

In December 1948  the Irish Parliament passed the Republic of Ireland Act, in tandem with the British Nationality Act, declaring that “People born in Eire in the future will be Eire subjects and not British subjects.”  

On Monday, April 18, 1949, Ireland officially became the Republic of Ireland and severed its ties to the British Commonwealth.  But the six counties known as Northern Ireland opted to remain part of Great Britain. 

In Dublin, 200,000 people jammed onto O'Connell Street to celebrate the new Republic, noted The Boston Globe, writing, "The choice of Easter Monday for Independence Day and the O'Connell Bridge to glorify it were tied up in the little state's colorful past." 

The Globe added that "The celebration was marred only by the opposition of Eamon deValera's Fianna Fail Party, which holds that there can be no republic as long as the partition of north and south Ireland continues." 

In Boston, over 500 Irish people and their families celebrated at Intercolonial Hall in Roxbury, waving the Irish tricolor and dancing.  At the celebration, Thomas Dorgan, clerk of the Suffolk Superior Civil Court, read a statement from US Congressman John W. McCormack of South Boston, which stated: "I shall do everything in my power to see that partition is abolished. I strongly hope that by next year we will be celebrating a real republic of Ireland consisting of all the counties of Ireland into one government." 

Some excerpts from Irish Boston: A Lively Look at Boston's Colorful Irish History, published by Globe Pequot Press.