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Honouring Alfie, 'The Shaking Hand of Dublin'

Dublin's best-known Lord Mayor of the 20th century, Alfie Byrne, is finally being celebrated with a permanent exhibition in his home city.

Mementos of the legendary independent politician's life went on display at the Little Museum of Dublin in St Stephen's Green yesterday.

Byrne was elected Lord Mayor an unequalled 10 times, first serving in 1930 with his final term ending in 1955.

Lord Mayor Christy Burke welcomed Mr Byrne's relatives to the exhibition.


Alfie was renowned as a well-dressed, dapper politician with a knack of remembering names, said the Lord Mayor. He added that his warm handshakes, and his "eternal canvassing" earned him the nickname 'The Shaking Hand of Dublin'.

A native of the north inner city, Mr Byrne left school at 13. He went on to become an MP and later a TD and Senator.

His son, Patrick (90), who succeeded his father in the Dail after his death in 1956, said his father's constant work as a public representative meant he did not have the time to be a good family man.

"Politicians have always had a very tough time," he said.

Mr Byrne warmly welcomed guest of honour, Liam Cosgrave (95), who was Taoiseach from 1973 to 1977.

Mr Cosgrave - who was first elected to the Dail 72 years ago - told the Herald that his Fine Gael party was grateful to Alfie Byrne's support in the Dail.

"He worked for people who needed housing and who were unemployed. He was very dedicated," said Mr Cosgrave.