Identity Statement for John Hearne

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P291
  • Title: Papers of John Hearne (1893-1969)
  • Dates: 1918-2000
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 1 box
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use
  • Allied Materials

Biographical History

Born in Waterford, Ireland, Hearne studied at University College Dublin where he was awarded a Bachelor of Arts in 1915 and his LLB (Bachelor of Laws) in 1919. Called to the Bar in 1919, Hearne began his legal career practicing on the Leinster Circuit, which included his home county.

After the end of the Irish Civil War in 1923 he entered the Attorney General’s office as Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman, working there until he joined the Department of External Affairs as its first legal advisor in 1929. For the next decade Hearne was a participating member of many delegations to international conferences on law and a regular member of Ireland’s delegation to the League of Nations’ annual assembly. Hearne’s lasting contribution to modern Ireland is his participation in the drafting of the Irish Constitution of 1937.

His career as diplomat continued in 1939 with his appointment to Canada as Ireland’s first High Commissioner to Ottawa. There he defended Ireland’s neutral position in World War II through his high-level contacts with Canadian politicians, including the Prime Minister, William MacKenzie King.

In March 1950 Hearne was appointed Ireland’s first Ambassador to the United States of America, a post he held until his retirement in November of 1960. As a critic of the partition of Ireland, Hearne used his tenures in the United States and Canada to inform and educate audiences on Ireland’s domestic and international affairs.

Hearne’s final international role was in Nigeria and Ghana, serving as a parliamentary draftsman and legal consultant to the governments of both states from 1960-1969.

John Hearne married Monica Mary Martin (1908–1979) in 1930.

John Hearne died in Dublin, Ireland on 29 March 1969.

Archival History

These papers were received in October 2007 by Michael Kennedy, Executive Editor of the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy Series, from Bernadette Kilduff (who married John Hearne’s son Maurice). They were initially catalogued by Paula Little before being deposited by Ms Kilduff in UCD Archives in 2016.

Scope and Content

Textual documentation spanning four periods: Hearne’s legal and diplomatic tenures in Ireland (1919–39), Canada (1939–50), the United States of America (1950–60), and Nigeria (1960–69). The majority of this series is comprised of lectures delivered by Hearne to various organisations and audiences while High Commissioner in Ottawa and as Ambassador to the United States of America. The lectures include manuscript and printed versions, with corrections and annotations being evident on a majority.

Photographs of subjects related to both Hearne’s career (such as official functions in Ireland, Canada, and the United States) and personal life (including personal family portraits).

Also includes a certificate of Ambassadorship, newspaper cuttings, and biographical research notes on Hearne.

  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in digital format.
  • Language: English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue

Allied collections in UCDA

P150 Papers of Eamon de Valera

Publication Note

Eugene Broderick, John Hearne: Architect of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland (Dublin: Irish Academic Press, 2017)

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