James Walsh (Irish politician)

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J. J. Walsh
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
Postmaster General
Personal details
Born 1880
Rathroom, County Cork, Ireland
Political party Cumann na nGaedheal)
Military service
Allegiance
Years of service 1913–16
Rank Vice-Commandant
Battles/wars

James Joseph Walsh, generally referred to as J. J. Walsh, (20 February 1880 – 30 November 1948) 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 the Second World War, 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. His family came from a farming background, "working a substantial holding of medium but well-cultivated land".[4] 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".[4] 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.[5]

Sport[edit]

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.[6]

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

He was Chairman of the Cork County Council GAA.[7]

Politics[edit]

He was involved of the founding of the Cork City Irish Volunteers.[7]

He participated in the Easter Rising in 1916 in the G.P.O..[8] He claims he was responsible for mobilizing 20 members of the Hibernian Rifles and took them to the GPO[7] However Commandant Scollan contradicts this account.[9] He was promoted from Rifleman to Vice-Commandant of the Hibernian Rifles in 1915.[10]

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.[11]

Walsh was elected as a Sinn Féin MP in the 1918 general election for the Cork City constituency.[12] 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.[13]

During the Second World War, known at the time in Ireland as "The Emergency", Walsh's connections with fascism, including his association with Ailtirí na hAiséirghe,[14] 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.[15]

On Sunday 24 April 2016 a plaque commemorating J.J. Walsh was unveiled in Kilbrittain[16]

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Mr. James Joseph Walsh". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  2. ^ Walsh pp12-13,44
  3. ^ p146 O'Halpín E
  4. ^ a b Walsh p9
  5. ^ Walsh p10
  6. ^ Walsh p16
  7. ^ a b c http://bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0091.pdf#page=2
  8. ^ O'Mahony P65 par. 13
  9. ^ http://bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0318.pdf#page=1
  10. ^ http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS0341.pdf#page=1
  11. ^ The Twelve apostles by Tim Pat Coogan page 141
  12. ^ "James Walsh". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Michael Collins by Tim Pat Coogan page 384
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ O'Halpin Defending Ireland p223
  16. ^ http://www.kilbrittaingaa.com/latest-news/kilbrittain-1916-commemorations

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
William O'Brien
Maurice Healy
Member of Parliament for Cork City
1918–1922
With: Liam de Róiste
Constituency abolished
Oireachtas
New constituency Teachta Dála for Cork City
1918–1921
Constituency abolished
Political offices
New office Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
1922–1927
Succeeded by
Ernest Blythe