Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Athy Candidates in past Dail Elections

Richard Mothill is recorded as representing the borough of Athy as its Member of Parliament in 1559. His is the earliest name I have discovered to have been associated with the borough of Athy from the time of its incorporation under King Henry VIII’s Charter of 1515. That Charter entitled the south Kildare borough was to return two Members of Parliament and it continued to do so until the passing of the Act of Union. During the 285 years of the borough’s right to be represented in parliament, the representative role was exercised by individuals favoured by the Earls of Kildare and later the Duke of Leinster. Perhaps the most noteworthy of the Athy Members of Parliament was the Duke of Leinster’s brother, Lord Edward Fitzgerald who was nominated as M.P. for Athy in 1783. The majority of the those representing Athy borough were non residents of the town and many had little or no connections with the south Kildare town. A very different story was to emerge when elections to Dáil Éireann were held following the Treaty. Looking through the returns for Dáil Éireann elections I found many Athy locals who stood for election, not all of whom however were successful. J.J. Bergin was the first local man to enter the electoral fray after the departure of another local man, Matthew Minch, from the political scene after several years as our MP in the House of Commons. John James Bergin, representing the Farmers Union, stood for election to the 3rd Dáil in June 1922. Five deputies were elected for the Kildare Wicklow constituency, but Bergin came in 6th of ten candidates. Fifteen months later the election to the 4th Dáil saw three deputies returned for the Kildare constituency. J.J. Bergin was not then a candidate, but he stood in the General Election of June 1927, this time as an independent farmer with his party colleague and another Athy man, George Henderson. The next Athy persons to stand for the Dáil were national schoolteacher and Leinster Street resident Bridget Darby and Sydney Minch of Woodstock Street who were candidates in the General Election of January 1933. Darby was a candidate for Fianna Fáil, while Minch stood for Cumann na nGaedheal (later Fine Gael). Kildare was a three-seater and Tom Harris, Sydney Minch and Bill Norton were returned as the constituency TDs. Four years later Bridget Darby again contested the General Election, this time receiving 4,021 votes in what was then the four-seat constituency of Carlow Kildare. Minch retained his seat, although his vote decreased. In the General Election held a year later Sydney Minch lost his Dáil seat. Athy had to wait another ten years before there were local candidates contesting a General Election. This time Michael Nolan, known locally as MG, stood for Fianna Fáil, while Michael Cunningham stood for Fine Gael. Neither succeeded in gaining a Dáil seat, the electorate choosing outgoing TDs Bill Norton, Gerry Sweetman and Tom Harris. Three years later MG Nolan again stood for Fianna Fáil, but while substantially increasing his vote he failed to dislodge any of the three sitting TDs. It was national school-teacher Paddy Dooley of St. Michael’s Terrace, Athy who next took up the challenge in the 1954 election as one of only four candidates in the three-seat constituency. The result was a repeat of the 1951 election, with Norton, Sweetman and Harris retaining their seats. The same four candidates contested the 1957 election, but this time the Athy man, Paddy Dooley, replaced his Fianna Fáil colleague and veteran TD, Tom Harris to join Bill Norton and Gerry Sweetman in the Dáil. The 1961 election saw Paddy Dooley retain his seat, while another local man, Charles Chambers, a Fine Gael candidate failed in his attempt to be elected. Five years later both Paddy Dooley and Charles Chambers were unsuccessful candidates, as was Joe Bermingham of Castlemitchell when he was the only Athy candidate in the election of 1969. Joe succeeded in obtaining a Dáil seat in 1973 in a General Election which saw Jim McEvoy of Leinster Street and Paddy Dooley amongst the unsuccessful candidates. Four years later, to the list of unsuccessful candidates was added Martin Miley who was also unsuccessful in the 1981 General Election. The General Election of 1982 saw Lenore O’Rourke Glynn standing unsuccessfully, while Joe Bermingham retained his seat yet again. A bare nine months later Joe again successfully held his Dáil seat and remained a TD until 1987. Paddy Wright of Clonmullin joined the list of Athy locals who put their name before the public when he stood in the 1987 election. He was unsuccessful and no Athy candidate offered themselves in the election of 1989 until a later election returned Jack Wall of Castlemitchell as a member of Dáil Éireann.

No comments: