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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Members of the Seventeenth Dáil - John Donnellan

John F. Donnellan (born 27 March 1937) is a former Irish politician and sportsperson. He served as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for twenty-five years. He played Gaelic football with his local club Dunmore McHales and with the Galway senior inter-county team in the 1960s.

John Donnellan was born in Dunmore, County Galway in 1937. He was born into a family that had strong interests in both Gaelic games and Irish politics. His father, Michael Donnellan, had won an All-Ireland medal with Galway in 1925 before later becoming a Teachta Dála for the Clann na Talmhan political party. In later years John Donnellan would follow in his father's footsteps in both of these pursuits. John's son, Michael, would also go on to play football for Galway, winning All-Ireland medals in 1998 and 2001.

Donnellan played his club football with the Dunmore McHales club in the north of County Galway. He enjoyed much success with the club, beginning in 1961 when he won a senior county championship for the first time. In 1962 Donnellan won a county league medal before claiming a second county championship title in 1963. This last win was later converted into a Connacht club football championship. In 1966 Donnellan's club completed the double of county league and county championship victories. He completed a great run of success by capturing back-to-back county championship and Connacht club titles in 1968 and 1969.

Donnellan's career as an inter-county footballer began in the late 1950s. He won an All-Ireland title with the Galway junior team in 1958 and he quickly joined the senior side. Two years later in 1960 Donnellan won his first Connacht title, however, Galway were later defeated in the All-Ireland semi-final. Three years later in 1963 he captured a second provincial title, however, on this occasion Dublin defeated the men from the west in the All-Ireland final. In 1964 Donnellan was appointed captain of the Galway team. That year he won a third Connacht title before leading his team out in the All-Ireland final against Kerry. Galway were victorious on that day by five points and Donnellan captured his first All-Ireland medal. His moment of triumph was short-lived as, shortly after hoisting the Sam Maguire Cup, he learnt that his father, Michael Donnellan, had died in the Hogan Stand shortly before the start of the second-half.

In 1965 Donnellan added a fourth provincial medal to his collection. In the subsequent All-Ireland final against Kerry he was sent off but Galway were still victorious giving Donnellan a second consecutive All-Ireland medal. The following year he won a fifth Connacht Championship title before qualifying for a fourth All-Ireland final appearance in-a-row. Galway had a six-point win over Meath giving Donnellan a third All-Ireland medal in-a-row and cementing that Galway team as one of the greatest of all-time. In 1967 he won a Railway Cup medal with Connacht before winning a sixth and final provincial medal in 1968. Donnellan retired from inter-county football shortly after.

Donnellan's father, Michael, died suddenly in September 1964, and at the resulting by-election in December John was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael TD for the Galway East constituency.

From 1982 to 1987 Donellan was served as a Minister of State, first at the Departments of Transport and Posts and Telegraphs, and then at the Department of Health. He retired from politics at the 1989 general election, after contesting eight general elections for various constituencies in County Galway.

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