The Irish presidential election of 1974 resulted from the sudden death in office of President Erskine H. Childers. Initially all parties secretly agreed to nominate the late president's widow, Rita Childers. Before it was announced, or indeed before she was even informed of the plan, a mix-up led to the collapse of the arrangement.
A partially deafFine Gael minister, Tom O'Donnell, misheard a journalist's question asking about the decision of a local council to propose that Mrs. Childers be elected president. Thinking that the journalist already knew of Mrs. Childers' proposed nomination, O'Donnell confirmed that Rita Childers would indeed be the fifth president of Ireland. However the opposition Fianna Fáil withdrew from the agreement, thinking that it was being set up by the Government. It feared that the Government was seeking to gain political credit for her selection.
Instead Fianna Fáil proposed Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, a former Chief Justice and an Attorney-General under Éamon de Valera. All parties agreed to the nomination. With no other candidates nominated, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh was declared elected without a poll as the fifth president of Ireland.
Fianna Fáil leader Jack Lynch only discovered that the Fine Gael minister's confirmation of the planned nomination of Mrs. Childers had been an accident, and not a political set up, while chatting to ministers at President Ó Dálaigh's inauguration.