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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Members of the Eleventh Dáil - Michael Donnellan

Michael Donnellan (January 1900 – 27 September 1964) was an Irish Clann na Talmhan politician.

Michael Donnellan was born in Dunmore, County Galway in 1900. He joined Sinn Féin after the Easter Rising in 1916 and was elected as a councillor on Glenamaddy District council in 1917. Donnellan served as a member of Galway County Council from 1927 until 1945, originally as a member of Fianna Fáil.

Donnellan became disenchanted with the party in the mid 1930s, as did many supporters in the Connacht province. He became involved in talks with a number of farmers in order to create a new Farmers' Party. The original group was known as the Irish Farmers Federation, however it split shortly afterwards between the larger more conservative farmers and poorer more radical farmers from the West over the issue of de-rating. Donnellan lead the latter faction and this group founded Clann na Talmhan in 1939. In 1940 a by-election was called in the constituency of Galway West and his supporters persuaded him to stand. Fine Gael stood aside hoping to inflict damage on Fianna Fáil who won though Donnellan secured almost 30% of the votes cast. He was elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD for Galway West in the 1943 general election.

Donnellan, however, proved too radical for the party members from the province of Leinster due to his more left-wing leanings and support for land agitation during the mid 40's. He was soon replaced as party leader by Joseph Blowick. His decision to abstain on Éamon de Valera's nomination for Taoiseach in 1943 led some to suspect he had done so out of loyalty to his old party leader. Donnellan served as a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance on two occasions with responsibility for the Office of Public Works.

Donnellan was also a talented footballer and won All-Ireland medals with the Galway Senior football team in the 1920s and 1930s. He died in Croke Park at the 1964 All-Ireland final, shortly before his son, John Donnellan, as victorious Galway captain, received the Sam Maguire Cup.Another son,Patrick (Pateen) was on the team. The subsequent by-election was won by John, standing as a Fine Gael representative.

His grandson, Michael also won All-Ireland medals with Galway in 1998 and 2001.

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