Richard Mulcahy

From Academic Kids

Richard Mulcahy (1886-1971) was an Irish Fine Gael politician. He fought in the 1916 Easter Rising and served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence. He was leader also leader of Fine Gael and a Cabinet Minister.

Born in Manor Street, Waterford, Richard Mulcahy was educated at Mount Sion Christian Brothers School and later at Thurles, where his father was postmaster. He joined the Post Office as an engineer in 1902 and worked in Thurles, Bantry and Dublin. Mulcahy joined the Irish Volunteers soon after their formation in 1913 and he was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League. He was second-in-command to Thomas Ashe in an encounter with armed constabulary at Ashbourne in Easter Week 1916. Arrested after the rising he was interned at Knutsford and Frongoch until his release in November 1916. Upon his release he immediately rejoined the movement and became deputy chief of staff of the Volunteers, working closely with Michael Collins. Elected to the First Dáil in 1918, he was named Minister of Defence. In March 1919 he became IRA chief of staff, a position he held until January 1922.

He and Michael Collins were largely responsible for directing the military campaign against the British during the War of Independence. In 1919 he married Josephine Ryan, sister of Dr. James Ryan and sister of Phyllis Ryan, wife of Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh. He supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and became commander of the military forces of the Provisional Government during the subsequent Civil War. Mulcahy served as Defence Minister from 1923-1924, but was forced to resign after criticism by the Executive Council of his handling of the Army Mutiny.

His electoral record fluctuated during his career. He was elected as TD for Dublin North-West in 1922. The following year he moved constituency to Dublin City North. Mulcahy was defeated in the 1937 General Election, but was re-elected for Dublin North-East in 1938. Defeated again in the election of 1943, he secured election to Seanad Éireann. Mulcahy was returned to Dáil Éireann for Tipperary in 1944.

After the resignation of W.T. Cosgrave in June 1944 Mulcahy became leader of Fine Gael. In 1948 the first Inter-Party Government in the history of the Irish state came to power. Fine Gael, Labour, Clann na Poblachta and Clann na Talmhan joined forces to oust Fianna Fáil from power. Since Fine Gael was the largest party they would provide the candidate for Taoiseach, however, Mulcahy was seen as an unacceptable candidate to the Republican leader of Clann na Poblachta, Seán MacBride. Instead Mulcahy unselfishly stepped aside in favour of John A. Costello. Mulcahy went on to serve as Minister for Education from 1948 until 1951 and again from 1954 until. He resigned the leadership of Fine Gael in October 1959 and in October 1960 told his Tipperary constituents that he did not intend to contest the next election.

His son, also named Richard Mulcahy, was a prominent heart surgeon for many years.

Richard Mulcahy died in Dublin on December 16, 1971.

Preceded by:
Newly Created Office
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by:
Cathal Brugha
Preceded by:
Cathal Brugha
Minister for Defence
Succeeded by:
William T. Cosgrave
Preceded by:
Ernest Blythe
Minister for Local Government & Public Health
Succeeded by:
Seán T. Ó Ceallaigh
Preceded by:
William T. Cosgrave
Leader of the Fine Gael Party
Succeeded by:
James Dillon
Preceded by:
Tomás Ó Deirg
Minister for Education
Succeeded by:
Seán Moylon
Preceded by:
Seán Moylon
Minister for Education
Succeeded by:
Jack Lynch
Preceded by:
Newly Created Office
Minister for the Gaeltacht
Succeeded by:
Patrick J. Lindsay

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