Patrick McCartan

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McCartan in 1917

Patrick McCartan (13 March 1878 – 28 March 1963) was an Irish republican and politician.[1] He was born in Eskerbuoy, near Carrickmore, County Tyrone, one of five children, to Bernard McCartan, a farmer, and the former Bridget Rafferty (d. 1918). He emigrated to the USA as a young man and became a member of Clan na Gael in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and edited the journal Irish Freedom. He returned to Ireland some years later and qualified as a doctor. He also continued working with nationalist politics and worked closely with Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough with the Dungannon Clubs and the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

McCartan was to take part in the 1916 Easter Rising with the Tyrone volunteers but did not, owing to Eoin MacNeill's countermanding order. He was arrested after the Rising and interned in an open prison in England.


In 1917 he took "French leave" to return to Ireland and assist Sinn Féin in the by-elections being held throughout Ireland that year.

McCartan contested the by-election in South Armagh for Sinn Féin but lost out to the Irish Parliamentary Party candidate.[2] He was later elected in a by-election in King's County Tullamore in 1918. He was re-elected in the 1918 general election.[3]

He was re-elected for Leix–Offaly at the 1921 elections. He gave the Anglo-Irish Treaty his support, albeit reluctantly, in the Dáil debates, saying he would not "vote for chaos." He blamed the whole cabinet for the situation and said that "The Republic of which Mr. de Valera was President is dead." Disillusioned, he quit politics for the next twenty years.

Diplomatic missions 1919-21[edit]

At the meeting of the First Dáil in January 1919 McCartan was appointed Sinn Féin's representative in the USA where he would remain until 1921. One of his tasks was to secure American recognition before the Paris Peace Conference, 1919, but this proved impossible. While in the USA he renewed his acquaintance with his fellow Carrickmore native Joseph McGarrity. They persuaded Éamon de Valera to support the Philadelphia branch of Clan na Gael against the New York branch led by John Devoy and Judge Daniel Cohalan in their struggle to focus the resources of the Friends of Irish Freedom on Irish independence rather than domestic American politics. McCartan also assisted with the development of the "American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic".

McCartan then negotiated with the Soviet Union in 1920-21 in an attempt to have it recognise the Irish Republic, at a time when both were pariah states.[4][5] Although Soviet Russia was atheist, he hoped that Ireland could act as "accredited representative of the Republic of Ireland in Russia the interests of the Roman Catholic Church within the territory of the Russian Socialist Federal Soviet Republic."[6]

Later political career[edit]

He contested the 1945 presidential election as an independent candidate and secured 20% of the vote. He became a founder member of Clann na Poblachta and contested the 1948 general election without success though was nominated to Seanad Éireann that same year and remained a Senator until 1951.[citation needed]

In 1932 he published a book, With De Valera in America.

McCartan's daughter, Deirdre, was married to Irish folk musician Ronnie Drew.

McCartan was a supporter of the pro-Axis organisation, Irish Friends of Germany.[7]


  1. ^ "Dr. Patrick McCartan". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  2. ^ Doherty, Gabriel; Keogh, Dermot (2006). Michael Collins and the Making of the Irish State. Mercier Press. p. 94. ISBN 9781856355124. Retrieved 4 November 2014.
  3. ^ "Patrick McCartan". Retrieved 5 March 2012.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Proposals about Russia, May 1920
  6. ^ Para 5, Draft Treaty with Russia, May 1920
  7. ^ Ailtiri na hAiseirghe and the Fascist 'new order' in Ireland (page 253)


  • Cronin, Sean, McGarrity Papers (Dublin 1971)
  • Gaughan, J.A., Memoirs of Senator Joseph Connolly: A Founder of Modern Ireland (1996)
  • The O'Brien Press, Kathleen Clarke: Revolutionary Woman (Cork 1991)