A 1916 veteran with local government experience - W. T. Cosgrave's road to the Dáil

Unlike most of his colleagues in cabinet, thirty-eight-year-old William Thomas Cosgrave had already enjoyed success in electoral politics and had experience of managing public affairs at the municipal level. He also had experience of the realities of social deprivation, having worked in the family's licensed premises in one of the city’s poorest areas. He was an early member of the Sinn Féin party and elected as a Sinn Féin councillor on Dublin City Corporation in 1909.

A member of the Irish Volunteers, Cosgrave served with Cathal Brugha at the South Dublin Union during the 1916 Rising. After his court-martial, his sentence of death was commuted to penal servitude for life. Not long after his release from prison, Cosgrave was elected as Sinn Féin MP for Kilkenny City in the August 1917 by-election. In the general election of the following year, he was returned for Kilkenny North and appointed Minister for local government in the government of Dáil Éireann in April 1919, a post to which he brought his extensive experience of municipal administration.