Ronan Fanning, professor emeritus of modern Irish history at University College Dublin and the author of several books, died 18 January at age 75.
In 2015, Fanning published A Will to Power, a biography of Éamon de Valera, one of the most complicated and controversial figures of Irish revolutionary history. His Introduction included this anecdote:
By a strange coincidence my father died on the same day as Éamon de Valera, 29 August 1975, some hours before him. He was buried in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, again on the same day, less than one hundred yards away from where de Valera was buried an hour later in the republican plot. I was reminded on that morning that de Valera would remain as divisive a figure in death as in life. A family friend, who knew that my father was never an admirer of de Valera … said to me at his graveside as the undertaker was hurrying us out to make way for the state funeral, ‘What’s the first thing your father will say to St. Peter when he sees him? “There’s another Irishman, a long fellow, coming up after me and he’ll cause havoc if you let him in!”
Ronan Fanning is to be cremated at Glasnevin. Below, he speaks about British policy in Ireland after the 1916 Easter Rising.