Exhibition honours Kerry's first Dáil TDs

Simon Brouder

The first TDs to represent Kerry in the Dáil are to be recognised at a new exhibition.

The exhibition - organised to mark the centenary of the 1918 general election and the First Dáil - will be officially opened by the Mayor of Kerry County Council on Saturday, December 8, at the county Library in Tralee.

It will feature information on the four Kerry men - Austin Stack, James Crowley, Fionán Lynch and Piaras Béaslaí - who were elected MPs in the December 1918 election and subsequently took their seats in the newly established Dáil Éireann.

Descendants of three of the TDs - Eddie Barrett, a grandnephew of Austin Stack; John Beazley, a cousin of Piaras Béaslaí; and Clementine O'Keeffe, a granddaughter of James Crowley - were on hand for the launch of the exhibition.

Stack ( in West Kerry), Crowley (in North Kerry), Lynch (in South Kerry) and Béaslaí ( in East Kerry) were each elected, unopposed, to the House of Commons on December 14, 1918, but declined to take their seats, choosing instead to sit as members of the First Dáil.

Béaslaí was the only Kerry TD present when the Dáil met at the Mansion House on January 21, 1919 - the others were in jail - and he read the Democratic Programme of the Dáil to those present.

The exhibition will include information panels featuring details of the four TDs as well as the foundation of the First Dáil.

It will be unveiled at Tralee Library on Saturday, December 8, at 10.30am and will be open to the public over the coming months, with the potential to have the display moved to other locations around the county.

"As we approach the centenary of the seminal 1918 general election and the foundation of Dáil Éireann, it is important that we acknowledge the role played by the four Kerry men who were part of the First Dáil and who made their contribution to the foundation of an independent parliamentary democracy,' said the Mayor of Kerry Cllr Norma Foley.

"I hope that people will engage with this bilingual exhibition which will be of interest to anyone wanting to learn more about the events of a century ago and the four Kerry men who were the county's first representatives in Dáil Éireann,' said Mayor Foley.