Governor-General of the Irish Free State

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The Governor-General (Irish: Seanascal) was the representative of the King in the 1922–1937 Irish Free State. Until 1927 he was also the agent of the British government in the Irish state.[citation needed] By convention the office of Governor-General was largely ceremonial. Nonetheless it was controversial, as many nationalists saw it as offensive to republican principles and a symbol of Irish subservience to the United Kingdom. For this reason the office had its role increasingly diminished until it was abolished entirely in 1937 retroactively applied to 1936.

The first two Governors-General lived in an official residence, the Viceregal Lodge, now known as Áras an Uachtaráin and the residence of the President of Ireland. The last Governor-General resided in a specially hired private residence in Booterstown, County Dublin.


Governors-General of the Irish Free State, 1922–1936


The Governor-General was formally appointed by the King, but in practice chosen by politicians. Until 1927 he was selected by the British Government, but after that date the Irish Government assumed the right to choose the office-holder. This change arose from the Royal and Parliamentary Titles Act 1927, enacted at Westminster after an agreement reached between Britain and her dominions at an Imperial conference. Under this, the King now reigned in the Irish Free State as 'King of Ireland' rather than 'King of the United Kingdom'. This meant that the King ceased to accept formal advice from the British Government in relation to his role in the Irish Free State, and henceforth accepted only the advice of the Irish Executive Council (cabinet). The change meant that while Tim Healy, the first Governor-General, was chosen with the agreement of the British Government, the British Government had no role in the selection of his two successors. The Free State constitution did not provide that the Governor-General would serve a fixed term of office, but in 1927 the Irish Government decided that no Governor-General would serve a term of longer than five years.

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