Erskine Hamilton Childers

Life
1905-1974; son of Erskine Childers (1879-1922); ed. Gresham School, and Trinity College, Cambridge; m. Ruth Dow (d.1950), 1925, a Bostonian with whom 2 sons and 3 dgs.; elected Fianna Fail TD for Athlone, Co. Longford in 1938; Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, 1951, Minister for Lands, 1957; Minister for Transport & Power, 1959-69, and Tanaiste and Minister for Health, 1969-73; m. Margaret (“Rita”) Dubley, 1952, with whom a dg. Ruth and a son Rory; elected 4th President of Ireland, May 1973; died in office; his funeral at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and the inability of the Catholic cabinet to enter the Protestant Cathedral, awaiting outside until it was concluded, is the subject of a bitterly satirical poem by Austin Clarke; there is a memorial in St Patrick’s with a head by Cecil King; Robert B. Childers of the United Nations was a son. DIB FDA

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Works
Contrib. forward to Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde: The Dawn of the Irish Revolution and Renaissance, 1874-1893 (Dublin: Irish University Press 1974), xix, 232pp.

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Criticism
John N. Young, Erskine Childers, President of Ireland (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1985), 224pp.

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Quotations
Gaelic League: ‘[T]he movement which inspired and gave strength to the effort through which Irish nationality survived, Irish industries were founded and Irish independence and statehood grew.’ (Introduction to Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde, 1974, p.vii).

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Commentary
Brian Inglis, Downstarts (London: Chatto & Windus 1990), prints a letter from Childers in response to a request from Raymond Chandler for permission to write on the death of his father in 1922: ‘Dear Brian[,] I have had an astonishing letter from Raymond Chandler, who I presume is the author of the lowest type of detective fiction, in which he wishes to write for the Spectator a detailed account of my father’s execution [..] (p.204-05.)’ Inglis further asks: ‘Has he ever indulged in decent respectable literature, as the Spectator does not seem to me to be his line at all?’ (p.160.)

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Notes
W. B. Yeats, calling to make his condolences to Mrs. Childers, was shocked to hear her son say, ‘The Republic fights on [...].’ (Cited in Peter Costello, The Heart Grown Brutal: the Irish Revolution in Literature from Parnell to the Death of Yeats, 1977, p.279.)

Kith & Kin: Robert (“Bobby”) Childers was a br., settled in Scotland; also a sister Karen who has conducted a 10-year affair with John Kevany; his dg. Ruth had an affair with Brian Inglis [see infra]; while a medical student his son Rory diagnosed Brendan Behan as diabetic from his breath in Davy Byrne’s (ibid., p.184); a gd-dg. Nesta is married to the philosopher Ross Skelton (TCD).

Dedication, S. W. Jackman, Nicholas Cardinal Wiseman: a Victorian prelate and his writings (Dublin: Five Lamps Press [Dolmen] [1977]), ded. to E. H. Childers.

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