Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh

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Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh (12 February 1911 – 21 March 1978; Irish pronunciation: [ˈcaɾˠwaɫ̪ oː ˈdˠaːɫ̪i]) served as the fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.


Early life

Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, was born on 12 February 1911,[1] in Bray, County Wicklow.[2] His father was a shopkeeper with little interest in politics.

Cearbhall had an older brother; Aonghus, and two younger sisters; Úna and Nuala. He went to St. Cronan's Boys National School.[3]. While attending University College Dublin, he became auditor of the Literary and Historical Society.[4]


A graduate of University College Dublin, Ó Dálaigh was a committed Fianna Fáil supporter who served on the party's National Executive in the 1930s, he became Ireland's youngest Attorney General in 1946 under Taoiseach Éamon de Valera, serving until 1948. Unsuccessful in Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann elections in 1948 and 1951, he was re-appointed as Attorney General in 1951 and in 1953 he was appointed as the youngest member of the Supreme Court by his mentor, de Valera. Less than a decade later, he became Ireland's youngest Chief Justice, when selected by then Taoiseach, Seán Lemass. He was a keen actor in his early years and became a close friend of actor Cyril Cusack. During the launch of Disney's Darby O'Gill and the Little People he picketed with Cusack, for what they felt was its ridiculous stereotyping of Irish people[5]

In 1972, Taoiseach Jack Lynch suggested to the opposition parties that they agree to nominate Ó Dálaigh to become President of Ireland when President de Valera's last term ended in June of the following year. However Fine Gael, which was confident that its prospective candidate, Tom O'Higgins, would win the 1973 presidential election (he had almost defeated de Valera in 1966) turned down the offer. However, Fianna Fáil's Erskine H. Childers went on to win the presidential election.

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