Pipe Personalities - Sean Lemass
John Francis Lemass; (15 July 1899 – 11 May 1971), often called the father of modern Ireland, was often pictured with pipe clenched firmly in his prominent teeth. Mr. Lemass was a week-end golfer and horse racing enthusiast who liked a game of cards but loved to smoke his pipe. He had been a heavy pipe smoker all his life, smoking almost a pound of tobacco a week in later life.
Born in Dublin in 1899 Lemass was a veteran of the Easter Rising in 1916. He fought in the War of Independence and was imprisoned in Ballykinlar in County Down for a year. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought against the Michael Collins Free State in the subsequent Civil War. He was among the rebels who occupied the Four Courts which were famously bombed by the Free State forces. He was again interned in Mountjoy and the Curragh.
Following the Easter Rising, Lemass remained active in the Irish Volunteers, carrying out raids for arms.
Until November 1920, Lemass remained a part-time member of the Volunteers. In that month, during the height of the Irish War of Independence, twelve members of the Dublin Brigade of the IRA took part in an attack on British agents living in Dublin, whose names and addresses had been leaked to Collins by his network of spies.
The group was under the leadership of Michael Collins. The names[note 1] of those who carried out Collins' orders on the morning of 21 November 1920 were not disclosed until author Tim Pat Coogan mentioned them in his book on the history of the IRA, published in 1970. Coogan identified Lemass as taking part in the killing of a British agent as a member of "Apostles" entourage that killed fourteen and wounded five British agents of the Cairo Gang. That day, 21 November 1920, became known as Bloody Sunday.
Lemass was arrested in December 1920 and interned at Ballykinlar Camp, County Down.
He was first elected to the Irish parliament in 1924 as member of Sinn Fein and was re-elected from his Dublin South constituency at every election that followed, up until his retirement in 1969. With DeValera he was a founder member of the new Fianna Fail party in 1926 which had abandoned armed struggle in favour of using political means to achieve its goals. He served as Minister for Commerce, Minister for Supplies and finally as Tanaiste (Deputy-Taoiseach) before being elected leader in 1959. His dealings in economic matters on behalf of the State were to serve him well.
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