Rebel and Army captain: An unlikely friendship
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Irish rebel and Army captain: An unlikely friendship

Éamon de Valera was sentenced to death for his role in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

His sentence was then commuted to life in prison due to his American citizenship.

He went on to become taoiseach (Irish prime minister) and then later President of Ireland.

Unknown to many, he struck up an unlikely friendship with the British Army captain to whom he surrendered in 1916.

In surrendering, Éamon de Valera handed over his field glasses and white flag to the then Lieutenant Hitzen.

Twenty years later, Captain Hitzen got in touch via Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and returned the glasses.

From then, an unlikely friendship continued and Captain Hitzen was accepted as an honorary member of the old IRA - the very men he fought against during the 1916 rebellion.

Bringing history to life, Éamon de Valera's grandson, Éamon Ó Cuív, visited St Killian's College in Ballymena to share his granddad's story with history students.

Video journalist: Christina McSorley

  • 29 Oct 2018