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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Members of the First Dáil - Frank Fahy

Francis Patrick (Frank) Fahy (12 January 1880 – 14 July 1953) was an Irish teacher, barrister, and politician. He served for nearly 35 years as a Teachta Dála (TD), first for Sinn Féin and later as a member of Fianna Fáil, before becoming Ceann Comhairle (chairman) for over 19 years.

Fahy was born in Kilchreest, County Galway, a son of John Fahy who taught at the local National School. He was the eldest of 6 children, 5 boys and a girl. After early education at his father's school in Kilchreest he attended Mungret College in Limerick and later studied at University College Galway. He gained a Bachelor of Arts and a H.Dip. in Education, and a Diploma in Science.

From 1906 to 1921, he taught Latin, Irish and Science at Castleknock College (St Vincent's College), Dublin. Fahy qualified as a barrister in 1927 at King's Inns, Dublin and also taught at the Christian Brothers school in Tralee. He was at one time General Secretary of the Gaelic League. He married Anna Barton of Tralee, a metal artist and member of the Cumann na mBan in 1908. They had no children.

Fahy was first elected at the 1918 general election as a Sinn Féin Member of Parliament (MP) for South Galway, but as the party was pledged to abstentionism he did not take his seat in the British House of Commons and joined the revolutionary 1st Dáil Éireann. He was re-elected as TD for Galway in 1921 general election and having sided with the anti-treaty forces following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, he did not take his seat in either the 3rd Dáil or the 4th Dáil. He joined Fianna Fáil when the party was founded in 1926, and along with the 42 other Fianna Fáil TDs he took his seat in the 5th Dáil on 12 August 1927, three days before the Dáil tied 71 votes to 71 on a motion of no confidence which persuaded W. T. Cosgrave's Cumann na nGaedhael government to call a general election in search of a majority.

After the September 1927 election, Cosgrave was able to form a minority government with the support of the Farmers' Party (Ireland) and some independent TDs. However, in the 1932 general election, Fianna Fáil won just under half of the seats and formed a government with the support of the Labour Party. The first business was of the 7th Dáil was the election of the Ceann Comhairle, and on 9 March 1932 Fahy was nominated for the position by Seán T. O'Kelly, winning the vote by a margin of 74 to 71.

He held the post until Fianna Fáil lost the 1951 election, and at the start of the 14th Dáil he did not offer himself for re-election as Ceann Comhairle. He was replaced by the Labour TD Patrick Hogan. His 19 years in the chair remains the longest of any Ceann Comhairle, and the only other person to exceed 10 years as Ceann Comhairle was his succesor, Patrick Hogan.

The 1932 election was the last which Fahy contested; as Ceann Comhairle, he was automatically re-elected at the next seven elections. When his Galway constituency was divided for the 1937 general election, he was returned unopposed for the new Galway East, and similarly in 1948 for the new Galway South constituency.

Fahy died in 1953 and was buried in Dublin at Deans Grange Cemetery. The Galway South by-election held after his death was won by the Fianna Fáil candidate Robert Lahiffe.

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