#OTD in 1971 – Death of Richard Mulcahy.

Richard James Mulcahy was born on the 10th May 1886 and died on 16th December 1971.

An iconic figure in Irish History, he was an Irish politician, army general and commander in chief, leader of Fine Gael and Cabinet Minister. He fought in the 1916 Easter Rising, served as Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence and was commander of the pro-treaty forces in the Irish civil war.

Richard was born in Manor Street, Waterford in 1886. He was educated at Mount Sion Christian Brothers School and later in Thurles, Co Tipperary, where his father was the postmaster. One of his grandmothers was a Quaker who was disowned by her wealthy family for marrying a Roman Catholic. He joined the Post Office (engineering dept) in 1902 and worked in Thurles, Bantry, Wexford and Dublin. Mulcahy joined the Irish Volunteers at the time of their formation in 1913 and was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Gaelic League.

He was second-in-command to Thomas Ashe (who would later die on hunger strike) in an encounter with the armed Royal Irish Constabulary at Ashbourne, County Meath during the Easter Rising in 1916. Arrested after the rising he was interned at Knutsford and at the Frongoch internment camp in Wales until his release on the 24 December 1916.

Upon his release he immediately rejoined the republican movement and became commandant of The Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. Elected to the First Dáil in the 1918 general election for Dublin Clontarf, he was named Minister for Defence in the new (alternative) government and later Assistant Minister for Defence. In March 1919 he became IRA chief of staff, a position he held until January 1922.

In many ways, this was only the beginning of his career – he went on into politics proper, led Fine Gael and was a member of Dáil Éireann until his retirement in 1960.

Richard Mulcahy married Min Ryan, former fiancée of Seán Mac Diarmada, in 1920, and lived in a flat in Oakley House, Ranelagh. Min, a member of the Cumann na mBan Executive, had herself been involved in nationalist activity at the time of the Rising. One of his sons, Risteárd Mulcahy, was for many years a cardiologist in Dublin. His daughter Neillí Mulcahy (1925–2012) was one of Ireland’s leading fashion designers. She designed the uniforms for Aer Lingus in 1962. Another son is the structural engineer and visual artist Seán Mulcahy. Richard Mulcahy died in Dublin on 16 December 1971, at the age of 85 from natural causes.


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