Eamon de Valera became President of Ireland on this day, June 25, in 1959

Nicknamed ‘Dev,’ Eamon de Valera was the third president of Ireland and one of the country’s most dominant political leaders of the 20th century, particularly during Ireland’s fight for independence.

Eamon de Valera, circa 1937 (Getty Images)

Eamon de Valera, circa 1937 (Getty Images)

Read More: De Valera escaped English prison with a key in a cake 100 years ago today

He was active in politics for over half a century. After Ireland gained independence, De Valera founded the Fianna Fail party, oversaw the drafting of the Constitution of Ireland, and led Ireland during the dangerous years of WWII. He served three terms as Taoiseach (Prime minister) before becoming President of Ireland (a largely ceremonial role) in 1959. He held that position for 14 years.

Over the years his political creed evolved from militant republicanism to social and cultural conservatism. While he has many supporters, he also has many detractors who’ve raised an eyebrow at his character, calling him austere, anxious or devious.

Questions have been raised about his behavior during the Easter Rising as well: his supporters claim he showed excellent leadership skills and meticulous planning abilities, and his detractors claim he suffered a nervous breakdown.

February 1922: The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Committee. In the front row are Eamon Duggan, Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera, and Michael Collins (Getty Images)

February 1922: The Sinn Fein Ard Fheis Committee. In the front row are Eamon Duggan, Arthur Griffith, Eamon de Valera, and Michael Collins (Getty Images)

Though he was arrested and put in Kilmainham Gaol with the other leaders of the Rising, he was not executed as were Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and fourteen others, due to the fact that he was born in America.

Author John Turi claims in his book, provocatively named “England’s Greatest Spy: Eamon de Valera,” that de Valera actually became a British informant during the Rising to save his own life.

25th April 1938: First Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland Eamon de Valera (1882 - 1975) leaving 10 Downing Street in London after signing the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement. (Getty Images)

25th April 1938: First Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland Eamon de Valera (1882 - 1975) leaving 10 Downing Street in London after signing the Anglo-Irish Trade Agreement. (Getty Images)

De Valera was born in New York and died in Blackrock, Co Dublin at age 92. He is one of the many famous Irish people, along with Charles Parnell, Daniel O’Connell, and Michael Collins, buried in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.

Read More: How Eamon de Valera got involved with Michael Collins tombstone

His iconic 1947 Dodge, in which he was often seen driving around Clare during his presidency, was completely restored in 2011 and is a tourist attraction in Clare.

De Valera was Ireland's president for fourteen years.National Library of Ireland