Bermingham, Francis (d. 1677), 12th Baron Athenry, politician, was second son of Edward Bermingham, heir to the title, and Mary, daughter of Feagh Burke of Dunamon, Co. Galway. Edward died sometime before 3 May 1641, at which date the eldest son, Edmond, a Dominican friar, transferred the inheritance to his younger brother Francis. The Bermingham family had close links with the royalist Ulick Burke (qv), 5th earl of Clanricarde, so when news of the Ulster rebellion in October 1641 reached Connacht, Francis pledged his loyalty to Clanricarde and agreed to raise troops to suppress any disorders. In April 1643, however, the city of Galway openly declared for the confederate association, and the following month Francis attended the general assembly in Kilkenny. Later in 1643 he was appointed a commissioner for Connacht in the cessation agreement between the confederates and the royalist leader, James Butler (qv), 12th earl of Ormond. Francis succeeded to the title in 1645, after the death of his grandfather Richard, and began to adopt an increasingly prominent role in confederate politics.
The 1646 peace treaty (between Ormond and the confederates) recommended Athenry's appointment to the Irish privy council, but this agreement was overthrown by the clerical faction, led by the papal nuncio, GianBattista Rinuccini (qv). The subsequent general assembly in March 1647 elected Athenry to the executive supreme council, where he sided with the peace faction opposed to the nuncio. A second assembly, held at the end of 1647, reappointed Athenry to the council despite attempts by Rinuccini to veto his selection. In May 1648 civil war erupted in the confederate association as a result of a truce, strongly supported by Athenry, with the royalist commander in Munster, Murrough O'Brien (qv), Lord Inchiquin. Athenry emerged as a leading member of the Kilkenny administration, which was determined to negotiate a new peace settlement with Ormond. Clerical propagandists later singled out Athenry and a handful of others as the principal culprits in the ultimate defeat of catholic interests in Ireland. The second peace treaty (January 1649) named him as one of the twelve commissioners of trust to govern the country in association with Ormond. He exercised martial law in Connacht and was actively involved in the subsequent military campaigns against the Cromwellian forces. Athenry helped negotiate a temporary compromise with the catholic bishops in August 1650, following their decision to excommunicate Ormond for his incompetent handling of the war. In 1651, after Ormond's departure to France, he supported efforts to seek assistance from Charles, duke of Lorraine.
Athenry was among those exempted from pardon by the Cromwellians in August 1652, but he subsequently received new lands in the transplantation process. The restoration of Charles II brought about the prospect of recovery, and his name appears in the royal declaration of 30 November 1660 among those meriting special favour. Athenry was one of the few catholic lords to attend parliament in 1661, while his friend Geoffrey Browne (qv) was the only catholic elected to the house of commons. In 1664 he drew up for Ormond (now lord lieutenant) the list of those landholders in Connacht, including himself, still waiting to be restored. Despite his inclusion in the subsequent act of explanation, it appears as if Athenry failed to recover the entire family estate before his death on 12 April 1677. He married Bridget, daughter of Sir Lucas Dillon (qv) of Lough Glyn, Co. Roscommon, and was succeeded by his eldest son Edward, who went on to serve as a captain in the Jacobite forces.