Lemass Held Many Government Portfolios
Seán Lemass’s life was only spared because he was considered a mere young boy of seventeen who became embroiled in the 1916 Easter Rising. He accepted his liberty but he still went back into military action the following day as a member of the Irish Volunteers, Third Battalion.
Born in Dublin in 1899, Sean Lemass was educated at the renowned O’Connell Schools by the Christian Brothers. In his fifteenth year of boyhood he enrolled with the Volunteers, took part in the Rising, was captured, released and then moved on to the Second Battalion, aged just seventeen.
He was interned at Ballykinlar, Co. Down, in 1917 and was not released until the 1921 truce. He chose to oppose the Irish Treaty as signed by the Collins delegation sent to London and took up arms in the Irish Civil War that arose as a consequence of the Treaty.
He defended the Four Courts as Barrack Adjutant when it was seized by his former comrades.
After the surrender he was arrested but then escaped to continue the fight against the Free
State troops. He again made headlines when captured following an Enniscorthy raid that
resulted in his internment until 1923. Sean Lemass was now a prominent Sinn Féin member and in 1924, aged twenty five, he was elected for the party in Dublin City South.
When Eamon de Valera formed theFianna Fáil party, Lemass was one of the first members to enrol and later became a TD for the party. Seán Lemass then maintained his seat for Fianna Fail until his retirement from politics in 1969.
His belief was that the new Ireland should be a land full of employment and economic development.
He was also instrumental in the formation of the new Fianna Fail party with Eamon de Valera and became its first ever secretary.
In 1932 Fianna Fail made its maiden voyage into government and Sean Lemass was given the Industry and Commerce portfolio. He lost no time in implementing the industrial policies of Sinn Fein that meant so much to him and Ireland, as a new nation, began to make great strides.
Lemass was primarily responsible for the commercial development of Ireland’s turf bogs to provide alternative fuel during the second World War. He ensured that industry had a constant source of
raw materials to maintain employment and he also introduced a rationing system for food supplies.
His political rise in 1945 as Tanaiste was impeded when Fianna Fail lost office between 1948 and 1951 and in this interval he took over as Managing Director of the The Irish Press newspapers.
In 1959 he was elected Taoiseach in succession to de Valera.
He died in 1971 aged seventy two.