J. J. Walsh

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J. J. Walsh
J. J. Walsh.jpg
Walsh circa. 1916
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
In office
2 June 1924 – 12 October 1927
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byErnest Blythe
Postmaster General
In office
1 April 1922 – 2 June 1924
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byOffice abolished
Teachta Dála
In office
May 1921 – September 1927
ConstituencyCork Borough
In office
December 1918 – May 1921
ConstituencyCork City
Personal details
Born(1880-02-20)20 February 1880
Bandon, County Cork, Ireland
Died30 November 1948(1948-11-30) (aged 68)
County Cork, Ireland
Political party
Spouse(s)Jenny Turner
Military service
Years of service1913–1916
Battles/warsEaster Rising

James Joseph Walsh (20 February 1880 – 30 November 1948), generally referred to as J. J. Walsh, was Postmaster General, (later Minister for Posts and Telegraphs) of the Irish Free State from 1923 to 1927.[1] He was also a senior Gaelic Athletic Association organiser and Cumann na nGaedheal politician. Later, he was closely associated with Irish-based pro-Nazi initiatives during World War II, frequently expressing his views with anti-semitic rhetoric.[2][3]

Early years[edit]

J. J. Walsh was born in the townland of Rathroon, near Bandon, County Cork.[4] His family came from a farming background, "working a substantial holding of medium but well-cultivated land".[5] Until the age of fifteen, Walsh attended a local school in Bandon, but by his own account "as far as learning went, I may as well have been at home".[5] Together with his school-friend P. S. O'Hegarty, he passed the Civil Service exams for the Postal service. He later worked locally as a clerk in the Post Office. Like O'Hegarty, he spent three years in London at King's College, studying for the Secretary's Office "a syllabus (which) differed little from the Indian Civil Service". While O'Hegarty succeeded in his studies, Walsh did not, and returned to Cork where a friend, Sir Edward Fitzgerald, arranged work for him on the Entertainments Committee of the Cork International Exhibition.[6]


Walsh was active in the Gaelic Athletic Association, promoting Gaelic games in many areas, but particularly in Cork city and county. His interest in organised sports had a strong political dimension.

I happened to be one of those who realised the potentialities of the G.A.A. as a training ground for Physical Force. Contamination with the alien and all his works was taboo. I gathered around me a force of youthful enthusiasts from the University, Civil Service and Business. With this intensely organised instrument, war was declared on foreign games which were made to feel the shock so heavily that one by one, Soccer and Rugby Clubs began to disappear.[7]

He was also instrumental in establishing the 'revived' Tailteann Games.

He was Chairman of the Cork County Council GAA.[8]


He was involved of the founding of the Cork City Irish Volunteers.[8]

He participated in the Easter Rising in 1916 in the GPO.[9] He claims he was responsible for mobilising 20 members of the Hibernian Rifles and took them to the GPO.[8] However Rifles commandant John J. Scollan contradicts this account.[10] He was promoted from Rifleman to Vice-Commandant of the Hibernian Rifles in 1915.[11]

He was arrested following the general surrender and sentenced to death after a court-martial at Richmond Barracks. This was almost immediately commuted to life imprisonment, but he was released the following year under a general amnesty.

In autumn 1919 he was involved in a failed assassination attempt on Lord French.[12]

Walsh was elected as a Sinn Féin Member of Parliament (MP) in the 1918 general election for the Cork City constituency.[13] As a member of the 1st Dáil he was arrested for partaking in an illegal government. He was released in 1921 and supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty and went on to become a founding member of the new political party, Cumann na nGaedheal. Walsh served as Postmaster General from 1922 until 1924 and joined the cabinet of W. T. Cosgrave between 1924 and 1927, after the office was reconstituted as the Department of Posts and Telegraphs. He was elected at every election for the Cork Borough constituency until 1927 when he retired from government.

In August 1922 he was part of a government committee which was intended to consider what the "Irish free state"'s policy towards North-east Ulster would be.[14]

During World War II, known at the time in Ireland as "the Emergency", Walsh's connections with fascism, including his association with Ailtirí na hAiséirghe,[15] brought him to the attention of the Directorate of Intelligence (G2), the Intelligence branch of the Irish Army. Their request to the Minister for Justice, Gerald Boland, to place a tap on Walsh's phone was, however, refused.[16]

On Sunday 24 April 2016 a plaque commemorating J.J. Walsh was unveiled in Kilbrittain.[17]


  • Walsh, J.J. : Recollections of a Rebel : The Kerryman Ltd., Tralee : 1944[dead link]
  • O'Mahony, S : Frongoch – University of Revolution: FDR Teoranta, Dublin : 1987
  • O'Halpin, Eunan Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies Since 1922 : 2000 : ISBN 978-0-19-924269-6


  1. ^ "James Joseph Walsh". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  2. ^ Walsh pp12-13,44
  3. ^ O'Halpin, Eunan (13 June 2000). Defending Ireland: The Irish State and Its Enemies Since 1922. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-924269-6 – via Google Books.
  4. ^ "Walsh, James Joseph". Dictionary of Irish Biography. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  5. ^ a b Walsh p9
  6. ^ Walsh p10
  7. ^ Walsh p16
  8. ^ a b c "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  9. ^ O'Mahony P65 par. 13
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ The Twelve apostles by Tim Pat Coogan page 141
  13. ^ "James Walsh". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 12 February 2012.
  14. ^ Michael Collins by Tim Pat Coogan page 384
  15. ^ Ryle Dwyer, T. (1988). Strained relations: Ireland at peace and the USA at war, 1941–45. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 40. ISBN 978-0-7171-1580-8.
  16. ^ O'Halpin Defending Ireland p223
  17. ^ "Kilbrittain 1916 Commemorations".

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by Member of Parliament for Cork City
With: Liam de Róiste
Constituency abolished
New constituency Teachta Dála for Cork City
Constituency abolished
Political offices
New office Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
Succeeded by