Eamon de Valera, President of the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic, in 1919 went on a tour of the United States to encourage support for Ireland's fight for independence and also to raise money to fund it. Dev, as he was known, visited Butte twice in 1919, on July 25th & 26th, and again in November, 1919. Between his July visit and his return visit in November, Butte’s Irish had raised for the Irish Freedom Fund a total of $12,061.75 (which equates to $157,861.99 in 2010 money). By the following May, 1920, the Butte Irish Bond Drive had $51,700 in cash and another $57,000 pledged (a total of $108,700 or $1,422,645.84 in 2010 money).
When Dev arrived in Butte on 25 July, 1919, Montana Lt. Gov. W. W. McDowell met his train and rode with Dev through the streets to where Dev then addressed over 10,000 people who had come out to hear him. The next day, Dev addressed a joint session of the Montana State Legislature.
Earlier in 1919, Dev had escaped from London's Lincoln Prison with a key smuggled in to him in a fruit cake! He then shipped out as as a stowaway and came to the United States where he spent a year and a half raising funds for the Irish cause. On his 1919-1920 tour, he raised 5.5 million dollars (about 72 million dollars in 2010 money) from Irish people in 72 cities across the US, including in Seattle, Portland and Butte.
Mukilteo, WA, resident Seán Ó Sullivan, a Butte native, visited a retired priest friend in Butte, Fr. Sarsfield O Sullivan, and came across the photo hanging in the priest's studio. When they discussed the photo's historic significance and the fact that it may well be the only copy still in existence, Fr. O Sullivan and his sister Veronica, decided to have the photo copied and presented to the Irish nation. Seán made all the arrangements for copies to be made and for the visit of the Vice-Consul of Ireland, Fiona Hunt, to Mukilteo, WA, on July 22, 2003, to accept the gift on behalf of the Irish nation. At a luncheon in Mukilteo, two original-sized copies were presented and one photo currently hangs in the Irish Consulate in San Francisco while the second copy is in the National Museum in Dublin.
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