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Friday, August 13, 2010

Members of the First Dáil - James O'Mara

James O'Mara

from Humphrys Family Tree

James O'Mara (possibly spelt O'Meara) (6 August 1873 – 21 November 1948) was an Irish bacon merchant and politician who became a nationalist leader and key member of the revolutionary First Dáil. As an MP in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, he introduced the bill which made Saint Patrick's Day a national holiday in Ireland in 1903. He was one of the few politicians to have served both as member in the House of Commons and in Dáil Éireann.

Born in Limerick, O'Mara was educated by the Christian Brothers in Limerick, and at Clongowes Wood College in Dublin. His studies at the Royal University of Ireland were postponed after the death of his Uncle Jim in 1893, when James was sent to London to take over his Uncle's business functions. After his marriage in 1895 to Agnes Cashel, he moved to Epsom in Surrey, and then to Sydenham in London. He finally got his B.A. degree from the Royal University in 1898.

At the 1918 general election, he was Sinn Féin's Director of Finance and the party's fourth Director of Elections (his three predecessors having been imprisoned). He was elected as a Sinn Féin MP for Kilkenny South, one of 73 constituencies returning Sinn Féin MPs pledged not to take their seats at Westminster. In the First Dáil Éireann, he became Trustee of Dáil Éireann funds, and travelled to the United States with Éamon de Valera to pursue a fund-raising drive. He resigned his trusteeship and his Dáil seat in 1921 after a disagreement with de Valera.

A supporter of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, he was appointed as the first Irish Ambassador to the United States, but served only briefly.

After the death in 1923 of Philip Cosgrave, the Cumann na nGaedhael TD for Dublin South and brother of W. T. Cosgrave, O'Mara stood as the Cumann na nGaedhael candidate in the resulting by-election. Polling took place on 12 March 1924, and O'Mara was returned to the 4th Dáil, which sat until 1927. He did not contest the June 1927 general election, and retired from politics.

He died on 21 November 1948 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, near the grave of Éamon de Valera. His wife Agnes died on 2 June 1958.

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