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Members of the First Seanad: Biographies

Find out more about the Members of the First Seanad Éireann. The Seanad held its first public meeting on 11 December 1922.

Bagwell, John Philip

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

The only son of historian Richard Bagwell and his wife Harriet, of Marlfield, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary, John Philip Bagwell was educated at Harrow and Oxford. He worked for the Midland Railway in England until 1909 before returning to Ireland as superintendent of passenger services and later general manager of the Great Northern Railway. He and his wife were wounded by crossfire during the Easter Rising. He was on the executive of the Irish Unionist Alliance and accepted a nomination to the first Seanad in 1922, serving as an Independent until abolition in 1936. During the Civil War, his family home was burned down. He was also kidnapped by anti-treaty forces but escaped after several days in captivity. He died at a rebuilt Marlfield in 1946.


Barniville, Henry

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

A surgeon and Senator, Barniville was born in Belfast in 1887. Highly educated, Barniville studied in Ireland and Germany. In 1925, he was appointed senior surgeon and secretary of the medical board in the Mater Misericordiae, Dublin, then the largest general hospital in Ireland. He held a wide range of medical roles throughout his career and was ultimately appointed an honorary life member of the International Association of Surgeons. A prolific surgeon, Barniville was known for his humanity, treating patients who could not afford a consultant's fees. During 1919 to 1921 Barniville treated the wounded IRA, concealing their identities from British forces. Barniville was an elected member of the first Seanad and held that seat through to 1936. He went on to be an elected member for NUI in the reconstituted Seanad from March 1938 to his death in 1960.


Barrington, William

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

The son of a solicitor, Barrington was born in Limerick in 1857. He trained in London as a civil engineer and went on to work for the Surveying Service of the British Admiralty. He was responsible for the construction of several light railways in Ireland built by the British Government. He was elected to the Seanad by Dáil members in 1922, spoke regularly across many topics, but had a keen interest in debates on hydro-eleectric schemes. He was re-elected in 1925 and 1928, but lost his seat at the 1931 election. He died in 1937.


Bennett, Thomas Westropp

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

A farmer and politician, Bennett was born in Limerick and was the son of Captain Thomas Westropp Bennett. Although their father was a member of the Church of Ireland, the children were brought up in the Roman Catholic faith of their mother. After completing his education in St John's College, Kilkenny, and the Queen's Service Academy, Dublin, Bennett returned to the family's extensive landholding where he concentrated on dairy farming and joined many farming organisations. Bennett was elected to the first Seanad, a seat he held until 1936. During his term, he served as a Leas-Chathaoirleach (vice-chairman) (1925–8) and Cathaoirleach (chairman) (1928–36). His prime concerns were broadening the availability of education and stemming the tide of emigration. Following the abolition of the Seanad in 1936, he did not hold public office again, but remained a prominent figure in farming and agricultural circles. His brother George Cecil Bennett (1877–1963) was Fine Gael TD for Limerick (1927–48) and a Senator (1948–51). 


Bourke, Dermot (Earl of Mayo)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Bourke became the 7th Earl of Mayo on the death of his father, the former Chief Secretary of Ireland, who was assassinated in 1872 while serving as Governor-General of Calcutta. He was educated in Eton and spent time in the army. He later travelled widely, studying political, social, and economic conditions in the countries he visited. He owned large tracts of land in Kildare, Meath and Mayo, and was active in the House of Lords on Irish issues. Bourke was a patron of the arts and became a promoter of Irish craft industries. He joined the Unionist Anti-Partition League in 1918, was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 and was active in its proceedings until his death in 1927.


Brown, Samuel Lombard

Independent | Elected in a by-election on 12 December 1923, replacing Sir Horace Plunkett

Born in 1856, Brown was educated in Queens College, Cork and King’s Inns, Dublin. He was called to the Irish bar in 1881, became a King's Counsel in 1899 and was appointed the Regius Professor of Laws in TCD in 1934. Despite having no political affiliations he was elected to the Seanad at a by-election on 12 December 1923, replacing Sir Horace Plunkett. Although he lost the seat at the 1925 election, he was re-elected at a by-election in February 1926 to replace Lord Dunraven. In 1934, he was elected again and served until the Seanad was abolished in 1936. His knowledge of law was fully utilised by the Government, which appointed him to serve on various joint committees including those to which the Liffey Electricity Bills were referred. He was often instrumental in introducing amendments to legislation which were afterwards confirmed by the Dáil. He died in 1939.


Burgess, Henry Givens

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born near Borrisokane in Co. Tipperary, Burgess's Protestant parents farmed in an area so troubled by sectarianism and faction fighting that they preserved strict neutrality for the family by rendering first aid to all the combatants irrespective of their religious beliefs. It was an attitude that characterised much of his own dealings with his fellow countrymen. Leaving school at 14, Burgess worked administratively on the Irish and the UK railways. Commuting regularly between London and Dún Laoghaire, Burgess facilitated contact between the Irish labour leaders and the home secretary to negotiate a peace settlement in 1921 and made his home in Dún Laoghaire available for the meetings. In 1924 he supervised the formation of the Midland and Scottish railway and became close to the Royal family. King George V was known to enjoy Burgesses Tipperary accent. Burgess died in Co. Wexford in 1937 of a heart attack while engaging in his favourite pastime – salmon fishing.


Butler, Richard A.

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Dublin, Richard Andrew Butler was a prominent local farmer based in Skerries. A past President of the Irish Farmers' Union, he was elected by Dáil members to the first Seanad in 1922 but lost his seat at the 1925 Seanad election. He successfully sought re-election in a by-election in 1929. He was defeated once again at the 1931 Seanad election. 


Campbell, James (Lord Glenavy)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

A lawyer and politician, Campbell was born in Dublin in 1851. It was believed by his descendants that his paternal grandfather had been a police constable in Glenavy, Co. Antrim and his humble origins, though seen as socially embarrassing, inspired his later choice of title. Campbell studied at Trinity College Dublin and the King's Inns, qualifying for the bar in 1878. A talented and ambitious advocate, Campbell threw himself into the service of the Unionist Party, campaigning in England and Ireland against home rule. In 1898 he was elected MP for the St Stephen's Green division of Dublin. From 1901 to 1905 Campbell served as solicitor general for Ireland and in 1903 was returned to Westminster as an MP for TCD, a seat he retained until 1916. A unionist spokesperson, Campbell became a hate-figure for many nationalists and was dubbed ‘Jim Crow’ – the image of the crow applied to unionists who dredged up every discreditable story about Irish affairs to relay to British audiences. With the establishment of the Irish Free State, Lord Glenavy accepted a nomination to the Seanad, serving until 1928. He died in 1931.


Costello, Eileen

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

An Irish language enthusiast, folksong collector and political activist, Eileen Costello was born Edith Drury in London. She trained as a teacher and became Head of St. Michael's Church of England school in central London. She joined the London branch of the Gaelic League at its inaugural meeting in 1896 where she learned Irish and played an active role in the organisation. She travelled to the Conradh Ard Fheis in Dublin in 1902, remaining in Ireland for a period afterwards. It is around this time she converted to Roman Catholicism, changed her name to Eibhlín, married Dr Thomas Bodkin Costello and moved to Tuam, Co. Galway. She published a compilation of traditional folk songs of Galway and Mayo, titled Amhráin Muighe Seola, in 1923. It is one of the first publications of Irish songs that included the text and the music as well as translations and notes. An active campaigner on social issues, particularly women's rights, she was elected as a Cumann na nGaedheal member to the first Seanad in 1922, remaining a Senator until her defeat in the 1934 election. 


Counihan, John

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Kerry in 1879 Counihan was a farmer and livestock dealer. He moved to Co. Kildare in 1900 where he ran a large tillage farm and was well known in the cattle business. He was a member, and sometime chairman, of the Ireland Cattle Traders' and Stockowners' Association. He was elected to the Seanad in 1922 and retained his seat through to 1936. He was re-elected in 1938 on the Agricultural Panel and remained a Senator until 1951. His party affiliations changed throughout his long tenure in the Seanad--he was an Independent, Cumann na nGaedheal member and Fine Gael member. He was a member of many Government Commissions set up to examine aspects of agriculture.


Cuffe, Ellen (Countess of Desart)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born into a Jewish family in London, Ellen Bischoffsheim was the eldest daughter of a millionaire banker and was educated privately. She married novelist William Ulick O'Connor Cuffe, 4th Earl of Desart, and settled at Desart Court, Kilkenny. She supported the Gaelic League and financed schemes including the founding of the Kilkenny theatre, Kilkenny Woollen Mills Ltd and Kilkenny Woodworkers Ltd, which sold its wares from a shop in Dublin’s Nassau Street. A generous subscriber to charitable causes in Kilkenny, she built and equipped the city library, founded a recreation centre, Desart Hall, as well as Aut Even Hospital. Countess Desart was honoured with the Freedom of Kilkenny in 1910. She was Ireland’s first Jewish senator and served until her death in 1933. 


Cummins, William

Labour | Elected in a by-election on 21 February 1923, replacing Eamonn Mansfield

Cummins spent 33 years as a school principal in Newbridge, Co. Kildare. He held many public roles in the county, including chairman of Newbridge Town Commissioners, vice-chairman of Kildare Co. Council and vice-chairman of Kildare Vocational Committee. He was also a member of the National Executive of the Irish Labour Party and had been the Financial Secretary. A fluent Irish speaker, Cummins was prominent in the activities of the Gaelic League. He was first elected to the Seanad at a by-election in February 1923 to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Edward (Eamonn) Mansfield. He was re-elected for a 12-year term at the 1925 Seanad election and served until 1936. He was successful in the 1938 Seanad Éireann election on the Labour Panel. He died in 1943.


de Loughry, Peter

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in 1883, de Loughry was an iron moulder by trade and ran a small foundry business in Kilkenny. A committed nationalist, he was a founding member of the local Sinn Féin club in 1907. He was arrested and imprisoned on several occasions, including for his role in the 1916 Rising and during the 'German plot' in 1918. In 1919 de Loughry played an integral part in the escape of Eamon de Valera from Lincoln prison; he used his metalwork skills to master a key to allow his fellow prisoners to escape. De Valera returned the key to him many years later in Dáil Éireann. He was the Mayor of Kilkenny from 1919-1925 and was elected to the Seanad in 1922. He lost his seat at the 1925 election. He was subsequently elected to Dáil Éireann in 1927 for the Carlow–Kilkenny constituency. He died in 1931.


Douglas, James G.

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Brighton Square, Dublin, Douglas was the eldest of eight children of John Douglas and his wife Emily. He was educated at a local Quaker school and then boarded at Friends School in Lisburn. From 1902 he worked at his father’s drapers in Dublin, which he later ran for 30 years. He became fascinated by politics, was influenced by Arthur Griffith and joined the Dublin Liberal Association. After the 1916 Rising he promoted full Dominion status for Ireland. In 1921 set up the Irish White Cross. At the request of Michael Collins, Douglas served on the committee that drew up the Free State constitution. He was elected as an independent to the First Seanad in 1922, served until 1936 and was vice-chairman from 1922-25. 


Dowdall, James Charles

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Kent, James Dowdall was educated at Presentation College in Cork. Upon finishing school, he and his brother, Thomas, studied butter manufacture in Denmark and then joined their uncle’s creamery business. In 1905, James, Thomas and their cousin JB O’Mahoney formed Dowdall, O’Mahoney & Co, a Cork creamery and manufacturing business with branches in Manchester, London and Cardiff. He was a founder and president of the Cork Industrial Development Association and was a director of the Munster and Leinster Bank, the Irish Press Company and other businesses. He supported the Treaty and accepted a nomination to the First Seanad in 1922. He joined Fianna Fáil in 1927 and was re-elected to the Seanad in 1934, serving until its abolition in 1936.  


Duffy, Michael

Labour | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Dunshaughlin, Co. Meath, Duffy was a roads foreman and trade union official. He was a member of Meath County Council and served as the president of the Irish Trades Union Congress in 1934. A Labour Party member, he was their representative at the International Labour Conference at Geneva in 1933. He was elected to the Seanad for a term of 9 years at the 1922 election and was re-elected at the 1931 election. He served until 1936, when the Seanad was abolished.


Esmonde, Sir Thomas Henry Grattan

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

A landowner and politician, Esmonde was born in France, the eldest of seven children. After attending Oscott College in Birmingham, Esmonde, a staunch nationalist, became an MP for Dublin County South in 1885; the seat had been expected to be won by a unionist candidate. A big-game hunter, Esmonde contributed several specimens to the Natural History Museum in Dublin. A Roman Catholic, Esmonde was appointed chamberlain of the Vatican household and held this position under four popes. Esmonde's interest in Sinn Féin was signalled by his role as co-founder and financial backer of the Enniscorthy Echo, the first local paper to unequivocally endorse Sinn Féin. Esmonde's principal contribution to the Sinn Féin movement was the fundraising device of selling postage stamps which Sinn Féin supporters bought and attached to their letters in addition to those required by law. In December 1922 he was nominated to the first Seanad and remained a member until 1934 (though his attendance was infrequent because of ill health). 


Everard, Sir Nugent

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born and educated in England, Everard was the eldest son of a British Army officer. He inherited the family's Irish estate in Randlestown, Co. Meath in 1863 and moved there around 1870 whereupon he took a keen interest in agriculture and farming. An early foray into politics saw him stand as a unionist candidate in the 1892 general election but he was defeated. He was a strong supporter of the co-operative movement, becoming president of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS) in 1905. In recognition of his involvement in public life he was created a baronet in 1911. He took part in the Irish Convention of 1917/18 and in the peace negotiations in 1920. In 1921 his efforts for the benefit of the public cause were recognised again when he was appointed by the lord lieutenant as a member of the newly-created senate of Southern Ireland. In December 1922 he was nominated to the first Seanad by WT Cosgrave and re-elected at a by-election in April 1929. He died 3 months later in July 1929.


Eyre, Edmund W

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Galway, the son of a solicitor, Eyre moved to Dublin and took up a clerical position in Dublin Corporation at the age of 17. In 1893 he was appointed City Treasurer, a role he ably performed for 28 years. Considered one of the 'ablest public officials in Ireland' he retired from the role in 1921 after 46 years' service and was subsequently nominated to the Seanad by the President of the Executive Council in 1922 for 6 years. Ill health prevented him from taking an active role in Seanad debates and he did not seek re-election in 1928. He died at his home in Dublin in 1929. 


Farren, Thomas

Labour | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in 1879, the son of a stone mason, Farren followed his father into the trade. He developed an interest in trade unionism as a young man and joined the Stonecutters Union of Ireland. By 1912 he was appointed its general secretary and a member of Dublin Corporation. He played a prominent role in administering the strike fund of the 1913 Lockout and, in 1915, he became the first Irish Labour Party parliamentary candidate in the by-election that year. He adopted a strong line on women's right to vote, stressed Labour's stance on neutrality, and maintained his objections to any partition of Ireland. He was defeated. He was elected to the first Seanad in 1922 by Dáil members and retained his seat until its abolition in 1936. An active speaker in the House, he campaigned for better living conditions and social welfare for the Dublin working class.


Fitzgerald, Martin

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Mayo in 1865, Fitzgerald moved to Dublin at an early age and made a considerable fortune as a merchant. He became the last owner of The Freeman’s Journal, the newspaper founded in 1763 that was an ally to the Irish party at Westminster. In his attempts to revive an ailing nationalist-sympathising newspaper, Fitzgerald lost a huge sum of his fortune. The difficulties he encountered were extraordinary: it was suppressed by the British military authorities for seven weeks and Fitzgerald was imprisoned in Mountjoy jail for a month in 1920 after publishing a story about army brutality. He played a significant role in the process leading to the 1921 Treaty. Once the government decided to explore settlement possibilities, Fitzgerald was able to use his standing as a newspaper proprietor to act as an intermediary between Sinn Féin and Dublin Castle. He was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 and served until his death in 1927.


Foran, Thomas

Labour | Elected in a by-election on 28 November 1923 replacing Thomas MacPartlin

Born in 1883 in Dublin, Foran began working at a young age on Dublin's quays. He took an immediate interest in trade unions and when Jim Larkin arrived in Dublin to set up an Irish union for dock workers, Foran fully supported him. He became the first general president of the ITGWU in 1909, a position he held until his retirement in 1939. He was prominent in the 1913 lockout and was arrested and imprisoned with other union leaders. He was first elected to the Seanad at a by-election in November 1923 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Thomas MacPartlin. He was re-elected for a 12-year term in 1925 and served until the Seanad was abolished in 1936. At the 1938 and 1943 elections, he was elected on the Labour Panel. In 1944 he was nominated by the Taoiseach. He did not contest the 1948 Seanad election. He died in March 1951 and on the day of his funeral, dock workers lined the route to the church in recognition of his work.


Forbes, Bernard (Earl of Granard)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Forbes, the 8th Earl of Granard, held many prominent administrative and military roles. He was appointed a Lord-in-waiting to Edward VII, Government Whip in the House of Lords and Assistant Postmaster-General. In 1907 he was admitted to the Privy Council and appointed Master of the Horse and the following year was appointed Lieutenant-Colonel in the Post Office Rifles. He later served as Vice-Admiral of Connaught, Lord Lieutenant of Longford and was made a Knight of the Order of St Patrick. In 1922 he was nominated to the senate of the new Irish Free State by the President of the Executive Council until 1932.


Gogarty, Oliver St John

Cumann na nGaedheal | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Dublin in 1878, Gogarty studied medicine at Trinity College Dublin. While there he won the vice-chancellor's prize for English poetry in 1902, 1903 and 1905. Less publicly, he found relief from the stresses of medicine in composing humorous verses, many of which circulated orally for decades. From 1907–8 he undertook further study in Vienna to qualify as an ENT surgeon. He worked in private practice in Ely Place and, from 1912, as a surgeon in the Meath Hospital. He continued his literary pursuits alongside his professional activities, writing several satirical plays for the Abbey Theatre between 1917-19. He was nominated to the first Seanad by WT Cosgrave and remained a Senator until 1936. He spoke frequently in the Chamber, a fierce supporter of the Cosgrave government. He campaigned repeatedly for slum clearance and improved preventive medicine. Over the years he became increasingly dissatisfied with de Valera's Ireland and in 1939 he settled permanently in the USA.


Goodbody, James Perry

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in 1877 in Co. Offaly to a prominent Quaker family with extensive milling businesses in Mountmellick, Clara, Tullamore and Limerick, 'Jim' Goodbody managed the Limerick milling operations. His father, also James Perry Goodbody, was president of the Irish Flour Millers Association in 1904 and a director of the Great Southern and Western Railway Company. Goodbody was one of three Quakers nominated to the Seanad in 1922 by WT Cosgrave. He served a 6-year term. He died in 1952.

See the Senator's Oireachtas membership history


Green, Alice Stopford

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Kells, Co Meath, the seventh of nine children, Alice Stopford was mostly educated at home. After moving to England in 1874 she married John Richard Green, a pioneer of social history, in 1877 and they collaborated on work until his death in 1883. A prolific historian and writer, she became a staunch Irish nationalist, moving to Dublin in 1918. Her home on St Stephen’s Green was a meeting place for leading nationalists during the War of Independence and was frequently raided by Crown forces. She supported the Treaty, joined Cumann na Saoirse and became a member of the First Seanad in 1922. As a senator, she argued for the retention of divorce and was a member of Seanad committees on Irish manuscripts and on the Garda Síochána bill. She died in 1929.


Greer, Henry

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

From a military family in Moy, Co Tyrone, Greer was educated at Wellington and the Royal Military College. During army service in India, he developed an interest in horses and when not horseracing, he played polo. In 1888 he set up a stud farm, Brownstown in Co Kildare, which he later sold to the Aga Khan. Following a successful career as a horse breeder, Greer was director of the National Stud from 1915 to 1933. Greer was nominated as an Independent to the First Seanad in 1922 and served until 1928. He was knighted in 1925 for services to bloodstock breeding and died in 1934.


Griffith, Sir John Purser

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

A civil engineer, Griffith was born in Holyhead in 1848, the son of a minister in the Moravian church. Griffith’s mother, Alice, came from a leading Welsh Moravian family and Griffith himself became a brother advocate in the Moravian church. After school in England, he studied civil engineering in Trinity College Dublin. He married his father’s lifelong friend’s daughter, Anna Benigna Purser, and the couple inherited Rathmines Castle from Anna’s brother. Griffith was appointed engineer-in-chief on the Dublin Port and Docks Board in 1899. He was knighted in 1911 primarily for his work as the Irish representative on a Royal Commission reporting on the state of the canals of the UK. He retired early in 1912 and set up an engineering consultancy firm with his two sons. He was an ardent advocate for the development of the country's water-power and peat resources for power. Known as ‘the grand old man of Irish engineering’ he became a member of Seanad Éireann in 1922 and served until 1936, He died in 1938. A portrait by his niece, Sarah Purser, RHA, hangs in the Museum Building of Trinity College Dublin.


Guinness, Henry

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

A sheriff and director of Arthur Guinness and Bank of Ireland, Guinness was the eldest of twelve siblings. Although not a politician by profession, and despite his natural unionist leanings, he accepted the inevitability of Irish independence. He believed the Irish Free State needed the support of the business community to avoid chaos and anarchy. His views of the new state and his prominent role within the unionist-dominated business and banking establishment led to his appointment to the Seanad in 1922. After Michael Collins requested support from Bank of Ireland, Guinness supported the financing of the new Irish government as it attempted to maintain law and order - essential to the bank’s interests. Guinness married Marry Middleton Bainbridge. They had four daughters and lived in Stillorgan, Co. Dublin before he died in England in 1945.


Haughton, Benjamin

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born into a Quaker family in Cork in 1855, Haughton was an active local businessman and became chairman of the Cork Timber & Iron company. During the Irish War of Independence he was one of several liberal Southern unionists who sought conciliation with Sinn Féin in the lead-up to the 1921 truce. In 1922, he was nominated to the Seanad by the President of the Executive Council for a 6-year term.


Howard, Ralph (Earl of Wicklow)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born and educated in England, Ralph Francis Howard was the son of Cecil Howard, 6th Earl of Wicklow. He succeeded his father as Earl of Wicklow in 1891. He was admitted to Sandhurst Military College c. 1896 and saw service in South Africa during the Boer War. The family seat was in Shelton Abbey, Arklow. He was nominated to the Seanad by WT Cosgrave and served for six years until his defeat at the 1928 Seanad election. He died in 1946.


Hyde, Douglas

Independent | Elected in a by-election on 4 February 1925 replacing Sir Hutcheson Poë

The son of a Church of Ireland rector, Douglas Hyde learned Irish by speaking to country people in Roscommon where he grew up. Hyde was a Gaelic scholar who founded the Gaelic League and became the first professor of Irish at UCD. He published original poetry in Irish under his pen name ‘An Craoibhín Aoibhinn’ (‘the pleasant little branch’). Hyde was coopted to the Seanad in 1925, three years after sittings commenced, but was defeated in the nationwide Seanad election later that year, partly because of a smear campaign against Protestant Senators who had voted for a procedural motion allowing a debate on divorce. In 1937 Hyde served briefly in the reconstituted Seanad but vacated his seat on becoming first President of Ireland under the 1937 constitution.


Irwin, Cornelius

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Galway, Irwin moved to Enniscorthy in the 1890s. He was a shipowner and newspaper executive, and was one of the founders of the Enniscorthy Echo. He was associated with the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin, and was interned in both Stafford Prison and Frongoch Internment Camp after the 1916 Rising. He was elected to the first Seanad from 1922 to 1925 but was defeated at the 1925 Seanad election. 


Jackson, Arthur

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Co. Armagh in 1853, Jackson moved to Co. Sligo following his marriage to the daughter of a local merchant family, the Pollexfens. He became a prominent businessman in his own right as the managing director of the Sligo Steam Navigation Company, a director of both the Sligo Gas Company and the Great Southern Railways Company, and as a member of Sligo Harbour Board. In 1922 he was nominated to the first Seanad by the President of the Executive Council for a 6-year term. He did not seek re-election in 1928.


Jameson, Andrew

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

A distiller, banker and politician, Jameson was born in Scotland. His father, Andrew Jameson senior, was a partner in the distillery of John Jameson & Son. After completing his education in Cambridge, Jameson moved to Dublin and worked in the Jameson brewery on North Anne Street and became a director of Bank of Ireland in 1887. An influential figure, Jameson founded the Irish Unionist Anti-Partition League and during the Anglo–Irish war worked to create a peace settlement. In June 1921, he met Éamon de Valera and helped to negotiate the terms of the truce with the British government. Jameson was consulted widely by both the provisional government and the British government and often acted as an intermediary between the two. He retired from public life when the Seanad was abolished in 1936. Married twice, Jameson died in Dublin in 1941.


Keane, Sir John

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born to a landowning family at Belmont, Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Keane was educated at Clifton College in Bristol and the Royal Military Academy. He entered the army in 1893 and saw action in the Boer War of 1899-1902. He later became a barrister and studied accountancy. Keane served on Waterford county council and aligned with the All-for-Ireland League. He saw further military service in the First World War. He was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 and served until 1934. His family seat was burnt in the Civil War during the campaign against Senators. Taoiseach Eamon De Valera nominated him to the reconstituted Seanad in 1938 and again in 1943. He was a formidable debater and also served as a director and governor of the Bank of Ireland.


Kenny, Patrick W.

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Waterford in 1863, Kenny was a Justice of the Peace for Co. Waterford and chairman of Waterford County Council for several years. First elected to the Seanad in 1922 for a term of 9 years, he served until his death in 1931.


Linehan, Thomas

Farmers' Party | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Whitechurch, Co. Cork, Linehan was a farmer and local politician before his election to the Seanad by Dáil members in 1922. He was the secretary of the Cork Land League, a member of Cork County Council and trustee of the Irish Farmers' Union. Although originally elected as a Farmers' Party representative, he was re-elected as an independent in later elections until 1936.


Love, Joseph Clayton

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Co. Cork in 1872, Love was a fishmonger and fruit merchant in Cobh. He was elected to the Seanad in 1922 for a term of 3 years but did not retain his seat at the 1925 election.


MacEvoy, Edward

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Laois, MacEvoy was a wholesale merchant. He was elected to the first Seanad from 1922 to 1925 for Cumann na nGaedheal but was defeated at the 1925 Seanad election.


MacKean, James J.

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, MacKean was elected to the Seanad by Dáil members in 1922 for a term of 9 years. He represented Cumann na nGaedheal from 1928 onwards, though he made occasional gestures of independence. He was re-elected in 1931 and served until it was abolished in 1936. He was a brother of John McKean, MP for South Monaghan from 1902-1918.


MacLoughlin, John

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Buncrana, Co. Donegal in the 1860s to a nationalist, middle-class business family, MacLoughlin was educated in St Columb's College, Derry and UCD. Elected at the 1922 Seanad election as an independent Senator, he represented Cumann na nGaedheal from 1931 until the Seanad was abolished in 1936. He was re-elected to the Seanad in 1938 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel as a Fine Gael member and served until he lost his seat in the 1943 election. His business interests included media publishing; he was a member of a consortium of businessmen who purchased The Sligo Champion and People's Press newspapers in 1932. He died in 1943.

See the Senator's Oireachtas membership history


MacLysaght, Edward

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Edward (Ned) MacLysaght was born into a prominent steel-making family in Bristol in 1887. He moved to Co. Clare and took up farming on his father's estate after a brief spell at Oxford. The events of Easter week 1916, and their aftermath of executions and internment, radicalised MacLysaght's political convictions. He changed his name to MacLysaght to emphasise its Gaelic origin. Although openly sympathetic to Sinn Féin, MacLysaght took no part in the armed hostilities between 1919 and 1921. He backed the 1921 treaty and in 1922 was elected as an independent to the senate of the new Irish Free State by members of the Dáil. He served one term only as he was defeated in the 1925 election.


MacPartlin, Thomas

Labour | Elected by Dáil Éireann | Died on 20 October 1923

Born in Sligo in 1879, MacPartlin grew up in Dublin and worked as a carpenter. An active trade union member he was elected to the parliamentary committee of the Irish Trade Union Congress in 1912 (reconstituted in 1914 as the national executive) and was re-elected annually for 10 years, generally with the highest vote. Throughout this decade MacPartlin was one of the most prominent and influential leaders of the Irish trade union movement. He was a signatory of the 1914 ITUC manifesto opposing inclusion of a partition option in the draft home rule bill and asserting workers' right to arm and fight for ‘economic freedom.’ Elected to the first Seanad in 1922 by Dáil members for a 9-year term, he died prematurely, aged 44, while on a visit to Geneva in October 1923.


Mahon, Sir Bryan

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born into a land-owning family from Belleville, Co Galway, Mahon was commissioned into the British Army in 1883. He served in Sudan, Egypt, South Africa and India, rising through the ranks. Knighted in 1902 and promoted to Major-General in 1906, he commanded the 10th (Irish) Division at Gallipoli in 1915. Following the Easter Rising, General Mahon served as Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in Ireland until 1918 and retired in 1921. He was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 by President WT Cosgrave. He was elected to the 1928 Seanad and served until his death in 1930.


Mansfield, Eamonn

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann | Resigned on 12 December 1922

Born in Co. Tipperary, Mansfield was a primary teacher. He was president of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) from 1910–11 and later its first full-time general secretary. With Labour Party support, Mansfield was elected to the 1922 Seanad for a 3-year term. Five days later, following the shooting of two pro-Treaty TDs, he resigned from the Seanad "on account of Friday's reprisal" and stated that "peace is Ireland's only hope".


Molloy, William

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Co. Mayo in 1884, Molloy was a farmer and businessman. As a young man he emigrated to America, where he became active in Friends of Ireland, before returning to Ireland around 1920. He was elected to the first Seanad in 1922 by members of the Dáil but lost his seat in 1931. He died in 1964.


Moore, Maurice George

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Soldier and politician, Moore was born in Co. Mayo in 1854 and was the second son of George Henry Moore, MP for Mayo and leader of the tenant rights movement in the 1860s. His elder brother was the novelist, George Moore. Maurice served as a lieutenant in the Connaught Rangers during the South African Kaffir and Zulu wars, rising to the rank of major by 1883. During the second Boer war he was appalled by the military treatment of Boer civilians and published anonymous articles in The Freeman's Journal and elsewhere condemning the use of concentration camps. He retired from the army in 1906. A supporter of the Gaelic League, he taught himself Irish and supported the introduction of Irish as a compulsory subject for the National University of Ireland. In 1921 he went to South Africa on behalf of Dáil Éireann to seek Jan Christiaan Smuts's support for Irish independence. He was a member of the Seanad from its establishment in 1922 until its abolition in 1936, and again from 1937 till his death in 1939. 


Moran, James

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Moran was a prominent Dublin businessman, proprietor of the well-known Moran's Hotel on Gardiner St, and sometime chairman of the Dublin Port and Docks Board and the British & Irish Steamship Company. Born in Aughrim, Co. Wicklow in 1857, he was nominated to the Seanad in 1922 by WT Cosgrave for 12 years. He died in 1938.


Nesbitt, George

Independent | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Dublin around 1870/71, Nesbitt was educated in CBS Synge St and University College Dublin. He was a manager in Kernan & Co, a mineral waters manufacturer, for many years and a director of several Irish companies during his business career. He was one of the 50 people who attended the inaugural meeting of Sinn Féin, ultimately taking up roles as treasurer of the party and director of finance for the general election in 1918. He was one of several prominent Sinn Féin members who were arrested in May 1918 for his part in the 'German Plot'. In 1920 he was arrested again and interned at Ballykinlar, the first mass internment camp established by the British authorities to put down the war of independence. He was elected by Dáil members to the first Seanad in 1922 and served until 1925. He died in 1954, aged 80.


O'Dea, Michael

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

A successful bedding and furniture manufacturer, O'Dea was an active member of the Council of Dublin Industrial Development Association and the Council of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Railway and Canal Commission. O’Dea was elected to the Seanad in 1922 for a term of 3 years but he was not successful in retaining his seat in the 1925 election. He died in 1932.


O'Farrell, J.T.

Labour | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Churchborough, Co. Roscommon in 1887, and educated in Rathmines School of Commerce, O'Farrell was a trade union official. He was a member of the Railway Clerks' Association and served as the president of the Irish Trades Union Congress in 1927. O'Farrell was elected to the First Seanad for a 3-year term. He was re-elected at the 1925 Seanad election until the Free State Seanad was abolished in 1936. He was elected to the reconstituted Seanad in 1948 on the Labour Panel.


O'Neill, John

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected in a by-election on 5 March 1925 replacing George Sigerson

John O’Neill was living in Delgany, Co. Wicklow when he became a Senator. He founded the Lucania Cycle Company and was also involved in the motor trade and other businesses. O'Neill was chair of the First Dáil's Commission of Inquiry into the Resources and Industries of Ireland. He also and served on the Economic Relations Committee established in 1921 by the Dáil's Minister for Economic Affairs, Robert Barton, to advise on the economic aspects of the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. O’Neill was elected to the Seanad in a by-election in March 1925 but was defeated later that year in the December Seanad election. He stood for election to the Seanad once more in the 1927 by-election but was unsuccessful. O’Neill was active on several industry and commerce committees. 


O'Rourke, Brian (Bernard)

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Inniskeen and educated in the local national school, O'Rourke went into his father’s milling business. O'Rourke went on to buy Belleek Potteries and co-founded Arklow potteries. He was elected to Carrickmacross District Council in 1899, and was later elected to the County Council and made a justice of the peace in 1906. For endorsing the 1916 Rising, O'Rourke was dismissed as a justice of the peace. He was imprisoned in 1916 and again in 1920. O'Rourke was a Memberof the Seanad from 1922 until it was abolished in 1936. He was then elected to the new Seanad in 1937 on the Industrial and Commercial Panel.


O'Sullivan, William

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

Born in Kerry in 1873, William (Bill) O’Sullivan was educated at St. Brendan’s College, Killarney, Queens College, Cork and Surgeons Hall, Edinburgh. A practising GP, he was the Medical Officer for Kerry for 60 years and a county coroner for East Kerry. Strongly pro-Treaty, he was first elected by members of the Dáil to the Seanad in 1922 for 9 years and was re-elected in 1931 for 6 years. He served until the abolition of the Seanad in 1936. He died in 1953.


Parkinson, James

Cumann na nGaedheal | Elected by Dáil Éireann

From Tramore in Co. Waterford, Parkinson trained in London as a veterinary surgeon, qualifying with first class honours. He returned to Ireland and took an apprenticeship with a leading horse trainer at the Curragh in Kildare. He later established himself as a trainer at Maddenstown Lodge and went on to become the most successful trainer and owner of his era. His record of wins (as lead trainer) for 21 years remains unbeaten. He also became the foremost breeder and exporter of horses in Ireland. Parkinson was elected to the first Seanad and served until it was dissolved into 1936. He was subsequently elected to the Seanad established by the 1937 Constitution and served until he retired due to ill health in 1947, the year before his death. 


Petty-Fitzmaurice, Henry (Marquess of Lansdowne, Earl of Kerry)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in 1872, Petty-Fitzmaurice was the 6th Marquess of Lansdowne and Earl of Kerry. The family's Irish estate, Luggacurran, was in Co. Laois and comprised more than 122,000 acres. He was commissioned into the British Army rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel by the end of the First World War. He was nominated by the President to the first Seanad in 1922 and continued to hold a seat until 1931. He also sat in the British House of Lords from 1927, when he succeeded his father as Marquess of Lansdowne.


Plunkett, Sir Horace

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach) | Resigned on 28 November 1923

Knighted in 1903 and celebrated internationally for his work in rural reform, Plunkett was a son of the 16th Baron Dunsany. Born in Gloucestershire, Plunkett was educated at Eton and Oxford where he read history. He opened a cooperative store for his father’s tenants in Ireland in 1878 and established his first cooperative creamery at Ballyhahill, Co. Limerick, in 1891. Elected as a unionist MP for Dublin South, he became the president of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society in 1894. He worked with unionists and nationalists to demand the Irish government establish a department focused on agricultural interests, ultimately becoming the first vice–president of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction for Ireland in 1899. Although he exited politics in the 1900s, Plunkett accepted a nomination for the Seanad in 1922. After his Dublin home was bombed in 1923 he returned to England where he died in 1932. 


Poë, Sir Hutcheson

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach) | Resigned on 9 December 1924

Born in Co. Down, Poë joined the Royal Marines in 1867 and saw active service in the Sudan and Egypt. He was promoted to lieutenant colonel and received the Companion of the Order of the Bath in recognition of his military services before retiring in 1888. In 1891 he became High Sheriff for Queen's County, and in 1893 for County Tyrone. He was a member of the Land Conference in 1902 and in 1904 was appointed a Governor of the National Gallery. He was created a baronet in 1912. He was the Lord Lieutenant of Queen's County from 1920 to 1922 and, although a Unionist, he accepted nomination to the Seanad by the President of the Executive Council in 1922 for 12 years. He resigned in December 1924 on health grounds. He died in Sussex in 1934.


Power, Jennie Wyse

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born into a nationalist family in Wicklow, Jane (Jennie) O’Toole became politically active when she joined the Ladies’ Land League in 1881. Two years later she married fellow Parnellite and journalist, John Wyse Power. As well as raising a family, she also ran a small business, the Irish Farm Produce Company, on Dublin’s Henry St. She was a member of the Dublin Women’s Suffrage Association and Inghinidhe na hÉireann. She served on the executive of Sinn Féin and was a founder of Cumann na mBan. During the 1916 Rising she supplied meals to the rebels in the GPO. She supported the Treaty and was appointed to the executive of Cumann na nGaedheal. Nominated to the Seanad in 1922, she resigned from Cumann na nGaedheal in 1925 and continued as an Independent in the House. She was re-elected to the Seanad in 1934 for Fianna Fáil. She retired in 1936 and died in Dublin in 1941. 


Sigerson, George

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach) | Died on 17 February 1925

Born in Strabane, Co Tyrone, in 1836 Sigerson was educated at Letterkenny Academy and St Joseph's College, Montrouge, France. He excelled at many subjects in school and went on to study medicine in Galway, Cork and Dublin where he also learned Irish and developed a lifelong interest in poetry and literature. Sigerson lectured in botany and was professor of biology at UCD. He was also president of the National Literary Society. He was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 and briefly served as the first chairman before the election of Lord Glenavy. Following his death in February 1925, the Seanad paid tribute to him. The GAA’s college’s football trophy, the Sigerson Cup, is named in his honour.


Taylour, Geoffrey (Marquess of Headfort)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born Geoffrey Thomas Taylour in 1878, the only son of the 3rd Marquess of Headfort by his second marriage. He was predeceased by his elder half-brother, Thomas, and succeeded the marquessate in 1894. The family seats were Virgina Park, Co. Cavan and Headfort House in Co. Meath. As well as a career in the British Army, he was a Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Co. Meath. In 1922 he was nominated to the Seanad for a six-year term, but never spoke in the Chamber. He was an avid horticulturalist and was appointed a Fellow of the Linnean Society in 1929 and a Fellow of the Zoological Society in 1937. He died in 1943.


Wyndham-Quin, Windham (Earl of Dunraven and Mount-Earl)

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born at Adare, Co. Limerick, son of the 3rd Earl of Dunraven, Wyndham-Quin was educated by tutor in Rome and Paris before attending university at Oxford. Following a short spell in the army, he became a war correspondent for The Daily Telegraph and covered the Franco-Prussian War of 1871, the year he inherited his father’s titles and lands. Dunraven was a keen hunter and explorer who chronicled his travels in America and Canada. In Ireland, he encouraged local industries, sought to improve Irish fisheries, ran a racehorse stud at Adare, and founded Adare Manor golf club. He believed negotiation could solve the Irish question through devolution within the Empire. He seconded ratification of the Anglo–Irish Treaty in the House of Lords and was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922, though he was inactive due to age and ill health. He died in London in 1926. 


Yeats, W. B.

Independent | Nominated by the President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach)

Born in Sandymount, Dublin, one of six children of the painter and critic John Butler Yeats and his wife Susan, William was educated in London and Dublin. He began writing poetry and drama in 1884 and his first published works served notice of a remarkable literary talent. Yeats spent his time between London, Dublin and Sligo, and became influenced by Irish nationalism which was reflected in his poetry and drama. He was nominated to the First Seanad in 1922 for a six-year term and contributed to debates on social and cultural matters; his 1925 speech on divorce was a robust defence of personal liberty that generated considerable controversy. The first Irish writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923, he died in France in 1938 and his body was later returned for burial at Drumcliffe, Sligo. His son Michael also served as a Senator from 1961-1980. 


Many of the biographies on this page have been adapted from entries in the Dictionary of Irish Biography under CC 4.0.

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