Identity Statement for Seán Lemass

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P161
  • Title: Unpublished biography of Seán Lemass (1899–1971)
  • Dates: c.1960
  • Level of description: Item
  • Extent: 200pp
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Seán Lemass

Seán Lemass was born in Dublin in 1899 to a draper whose business was conducted in Capel Street. After serving as a young Volunteer in the 1916 Rising, and escaping deportation, he worked in the drapery shop for some time, before rejoining the Volunteers as a full-time officer. Following his arrest in 1920, he was interned in Ballykinlar for a year. He opposed the Treaty, fought in the Four Courts during the Civil War, and subsequently interned in the Curragh Camp and Mountjoy Jail. Upon release, he turned to the political side of the republican movement and was elected TD for Dublin South in 1924 but abstained from taking his seat. Influential in founding the Fianna Fáil Party in 1926, he was appointed Minster for Industry and Commerce, when the party entered government in 1932. During the Emergency (1941–5), his portfolio expanded to cover the Ministry of Supplies. In 1945, de Valera nominated him as Tánaiste, and he succeeded de Valera as Taoiseach in 1959. He is remembered for building up Ireland's industry and infrastructure and founded many state bodies to achieve this such as Bord na Móna, Aer Lingus and Irish Shipping. 


Scope and Content

Draft unpublished biography of Seán Lemass by Liam Skinner [author of Politicians by Accident]. Describes Lemass's achievements to June 1959 when he became Taoiseach, with particular reference to 'how the neutral Irish State came through World War II…He [Lemass] planned the establishment of the Irish air services and construction of the international airports, revival of the mercantile marine, reorganisation of road and rail transport, founding of the turf industry, expansion of the tourist trade, reformation of the insurance business, extension of the electricity and sugar enterprises, and the entire campaign to give the Irish economy an efficient industrial arm'.


  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only.  
  • Language: English