Biography of Lemass, Seán Francis (Seán Ó Leimeas) - Archontology
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Lemass, Seán Francis (Seán Ó Leimeas)

Seán Ó Leimeas = Seán Francis Lemass

b. 15 Jul 1899, Ballybrack, Co. Dublin
d. 11 May 1971, Dublin

Title: Taoiseach
Term: 23 Jun 1959 - 11 Oct 1961
Chronology: 23 Jun 1959, nominated by the 16th Dáil Éireann; appointed by the President of Ireland [1]
11 Oct 1961, re-appointed
Term: 11 Oct 1961 - 21 Apr 1965
Chronology: 11 Oct 1961, nominated by the 17th Dáil Éireann; appointed by the President of Ireland [1]
21 Apr 1965, re-appointed
Term: 21 Apr 1965 - 10 Nov 1966
Chronology: 21 Apr 1965, nominated by the 18th Dáil Éireann; appointed by the President of Ireland [1]
10 Nov 1966, resignation submitted to the President of Ireland; successor appointed [1]

Seán Lemass was educated at O'Connell Christian Brothers' School, Dublin. At fifteen and a half he joined the Irish Volunteers, serving first in Eamon de Valera's company. He fought in the 1916 Rising but escaped deportation and went back to school. In 1917, Lemass went to work in his father's drapery shop, but was soon back in the Volunteers as a full-time officer. He was arrested in December 1920 and interned for a year in Ballykinler. After the Treaty of 1921 he took the Republican side, fought in the Four Courts during the Civil War, and was captured and interned in the Curragh Camp and Mountjoy Jail from December 1922 to December 1923. Elected to the Dáil Éireann in 1925, he represented his constituency in Dublin without a break until his retirement in 1969. A founder-member of Fianna Fáil, Lemass served as Minister for Industry and Commerce in de Valera's first government. He held that portfolio, combining it with that of Supplies (1941-1945), in subsequent Fianna Fáil Governments. De Valera nominated Lemass Tánaiste in 1945. After the resignation of de Valera in June 1959, Lemass was appointed Taoiseach. Although Fianna Fáil could not attain an absolute majority in the General Elections of 1961 and 1965, Lemass formed two minority governments. He built up the country's industry behind a tariff wall and promoted state boards to develop turf resources (Bord na Móna) and to provide Ireland with a national airline (Aer Lingus) and shipping company (Irish Shipping). In 1965 he reestablished free trade with UK, seeing this as a prelude to a joint entry into the Common Market. Lemass resigned as Taoiseach for health reasons on 10 Nov 1966 and was replaced by Jack Lynch. Biography source: [2]

Date Candidate Yes No
23 Jun 1959 Seán Lemass 75 51
11 Oct 1961 Seán Lemass 72 68
21 Apr 1965 Seán Lemass 72 67

[1] Dáil Éireann Debates
[2] "A Dictionary of Irish Biography", ed. by Henry Boylan (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan, 1998).
Image: photograph, 1942.