Later Years

Later Years

With the end of the war, Devoy played a key role in the Friends’ advocacy for not the United States’ recognition of the Irish Republic but, in keeping with President Wilson’s war aims, self-determination for Ireland. The latter did not guarantee recognition of the Republic as declared in 1916 and reaffirmed in popular election in 1918. American-Irish republicans challenged the Friends’ refusal to campaign for American recognition of the Irish Republic.
The lull which followed the abortive ‘rising’ of 1867 was very different from that produced by the failure of any previous insurrection attempt. It was temporary and transient. The strength of the country had not been put forth, and the failure was too plainly traceable to mismanagement, imperfect armament, and the demoralization consequent on bad leadership and divided counsels, to produce a permanently discouraging effect on the people.
No striking event had occurred in connection with the attempt, and only a portion of the organised Nationalist element had taken part in it.

The old rescue of two of the insurrectionary leaders, in the strebets of Manchester, and the disastrous explosion at Clerkenwell, in the attempt to liberate a third, before the close of the same year, gave ample proof that the revolutionary spirit was at work, and that the English Government was still face to face with a disaffected people. Four men gave their lives for Ireland on the scaffold; and the indignation aroused by the incidents of their trial and execution gave a fresh stimulus to the hatred of foreign rule. The Disestablishment of the Irish Protestant Church, and the Land Act of 1870, were, on the authority of Mr Gladstone himself, the result of the ‘intensity of Fenianism’; and Issac Butt’s languid Home Rule movement was an attempt to compromise the national question suggested by a similar experience. Both failed to conciliate the majority of the Irish people, and the influence of Fenianism remained.
John Devoy returned to his homeland of Ireland in 1924. Upon hearing of his return, his childhood sweetheart Eliza wrote to him at his relations address in Fairview. The letter came as a surprise to Devoy as he had heard some years earlier that she had died. He responded by visiting her home in Naas.

During his time spent with Eliza, she brought him to meet the local parish priest Father Norris, as well as visiing the nuns at the convent.A visit was also made to where his house once stood at Greenhills.

Three days previous to his meeting with Eliza Kilmurray he was a guest of honour in Croke Park for the opening of the Tailteann Games and was greeted with a very enthusiastic reception from a full stadium.
President Cosgrave saluted him with a banquet in Dublin’s Dolphin Hotel before his return to New York.
After a memorable six weeks travelling around Ireland Devoy returned to New York on September 6th. Having renewed acquaintance with Eliza, they continued to correspond with each other following his return to America. Devoy now in old age would begin writing his memoirs “Recollections of an Irish Rebel”. At the age of eighty six, his health which had been bad for a number of years, further deteriorated. His friend Harry Cunningham brought him for a short visit to Atlantic City where the sea air often invigorated him.

However his health continued to deteriorate and early in the morning of the 29th of September in a hotel room in Atlantic City, John Devoy died in the presence of his friend Harry Cunningham. His legacy shall always live on.


Peace at last. John Devoy’s headstone at the Patriot’s plot in Glasnevin cemetary in Dublin, Ireland