A brief look at the Presidency of Seán T O'Kelly.

Seán T O’Kelly was Ireland’s second president, serving two terms from 1945 – 1959.  Born in Dublin in 1882, he was educated by the Christian Brothers, going on to work in the National Library.  He joined the Gaelic League, an organisation which promoted the use of the Irish language in Ireland, and in 1915 became its General Secretary. 

One of the founding members of the political party Sinn Féin in 1905, he was elected to Dublin Corporation.

Ó Ceallaigh was active in the Irish Volunteers and served as Staff Captain to Padraig Pearse during the 1916 Easter Rising.  Imprisoned in England in the period following the Rising, he escaped and returned to Ireland. 

Replacing the gun with politics, the 1918 general election saw him elected to Dáil Éireann for Sinn Féin. 

From 1918 to 1945 he held the portfolios of Ceann Comhairle, Minister for Irish, Minister for Local Goverment and Public Health, Minister for Finance, and lastly Tánaiste. 

In June 1945 he was elected as Ireland’s second president, and served two terms in Áras an Uachtaráin, stepping down in June 1959. 

A popular president, and of a convivial nature, he brought a different energy to the presidency, visiting many European nations.  He was first President of Ireland to visit the United States of America, and addressed the United States Congress.  A devout Catholic, he visited the Vatican City in 1950,

Bhí níos mó fuinneamh ann nuair a bhí sa Chraoibhín, agus bhí cúrsaí taistil aige cosúil nuair a thug sé cuairt ar an Róimh le linn na bliana naofa, 1950.

In 1948 he signed the Republic of Ireland Act, ending Ireland’s membership of the British Commonwealth,   

Ach caithfidh gurbh é an dualgas oifigiúl thar cheann ar bith eile a thug sásamh dó Acht na Poblachta a shiniú i 1948, agus dul i gceannas na searmanais ag casadh na bliana sin a thaispeán don saol mór nach raibh ceangail ar bith polaitiúil idir Éire agus an Ríocht Aontaithe. 

Following the end of his second term, he retired from public life. 

Seán T. O’Kelly died on 23 November 1966. 

This episode of ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 30 September 1983.  The reporter is Mícheál Ó hUanacháin.