Carty, Francis Joseph (‘Frank’) (1897–1942), revolutionary and politician, was born 3 April 1897 in Clooncunny, Co. Sligo, the only son of John Carty, farmer, of Clooncunny, Ballymote, Co. Sligo, and Ellen Carty (née Rice). Educated locally, he became commandant of the Tubbercurry battalion of the IRA (1918) and later became OC South Sligo Brigade, leading a flying column during the war of independence. He was elected to Tubbercurry rural district council (1920–21), became chairman in 1921, and also became a member (1920–34) of Sligo county council. Imprisoned three times during 1920–21, he escaped from Sligo jail (26 May 1920) and from Derry jail early in 1921. From Derry he fled to Glasgow under the assumed name ‘Somers’, aboard one of the colliers of C. J. McGuinness (qv). In Glasgow he trained IRA recruits before being rearrested. On this occasion an escape attempt failed and a Glasgow police inspector was killed.
In May 1921 Carty was sentenced by court-martial to ten years penal servitude. However, having been returned unopposed as the Sligo–Mayo East member to the southern parliament established under the Government of Ireland Act (1920), he was released only months later. He attended the first meeting of the second dáil, of which he was the youngest member. Although he did not speak in the debates on the treaty, Carty was the first member of the Sligo IRA to oppose the agreement publicly when he denounced it during a speech at Tubbercurry on 23 February 1922. He was reelected to the dáil as an anti-treaty candidate for Sligo–Mayo East in 1922 and for Leitrim–Sligo in 1923.
Carty was vociferous in his rejection of the treaty and the provisional government, and on hearing of the occupation of the Four Courts by anti-treaty forces he advocated an immediate offensive against government posts in the area covered by his No. 4 Brigade of the 3rd Western Division of the IRA. However, there was little agreement amongst the IRA leaders in Sligo, and after a meeting with the OC of the North Mayo Brigade Carty decided to take independent action. A number of local Free State leaders were captured and at the beginning of July 1922 he led raids that attacked posts at Gurteen and Riverstown and secured a position at Colloney, as well as capturing fourteen Free State soldiers.
Notwithstanding this activity there was no attempt to link up with anti-treaty forces in Sligo town or Boyle, Co. Roscommon, and Carty lost the initiative by waiting to be confronted by superior forces rather than continuing the offensive. Despite this he remained the foremost anti-treaty leader in Sligo, and his attempted ambush of provisional government forces at Rockwood attracted the attention of Seán Mac Eoin (qv), who retook Colloney on 13 July with more than 300 men. This response by the provisional government led to an abandonment of the posts taken in early July, and Carty and his men retreated to the Ox Mountains, from where they continued to carry out raids between August and September.
In September Carty led an attack on Tubbercurry with the help of the Ballinalee, an armoured car that had been captured from the provisional government. The offensive failed and resulted in a sweep through the Ox Mountains by provisional government forces in an attempt to flush out Carty and his men. Despite this he remained active in the final months of 1922. On 5 November, after a government ‘round-up’ of anti-treaty forces in Sligo, Carty had two men shot as spies. This was in direct contravention of general order no. 6, issued by Liam Lynch (qv), which provided that those accused of spying were to be tried in military courts. On hearing of the shootings, Lynch ordered that the officers responsible be suspended, but this never happened. Carty was still based in the Ox Mountains in April 1923 but by late summer it was reported that his organisation had all but disappeared.
Despite Carty's actions he was never arrested by the Free State government and went on to play a part in public life. He first took his seat in the dáil of the Irish Free State as a Fianna Fáil TD on 12 August 1927. Continuously reelected, he represented Leitrim–Sligo until 1937, and Sligo 1937–42. Virtually self-educated, he was called to the bar in Trinity term 1936. A strong farmer, he was chairman of the Achonry co-operative creamery and a member of the IAOS committee. Over six feet tall (1.83 m) and weighing over fifteen stone (95.25 kg), he was an imposing figure. He died suddenly 10 September 1942 at his home at Clooncunny, Ballinacarrow, Ballymote, Co. Sligo, leaving an estate valued at £941.
He married (1938) Kathleen McGowan (d. 1998) of Templeboy; they had no children. There is a photo of him on his call to the bar in Milestones and memories (82). Some of his papers are in the possession of the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway.