Dolan, James Nicholas (1884–1955), politician, was born 16 October 1884 in Manorhamilton, Co. Leitrim, third of four sons of John Dolan, general merchant, and Bridget Dolan (née Fitzpatrick); he had at least one half-brother and one half-sister by his widowed father's second marriage. Educated locally, he entered the family business. His lengthy involvement with Sinn Féin began during the 1908 Leitrim North by-election campaign of his eldest brother, Charles J. Dolan (qv), the first Sinn Féin candidate to contest a parliamentary seat. He became manager of the family business on Charles's emigration to America (1909). A prominent Sinn Féin activist, and probably a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he was interned in Frongoch camp after the 1916 rising. Again imprisoned at the time of the December 1918 general election, as Sinn Féin candidate in Leitrim North he polled 17,711 votes to his nationalist opponent's 3,096, and sat in the first Dáil Éireann (1919–21); his majority was the largest in the country for a contested seat, and one of the largest percentage majorities ever in a UK parliamentary election. Returned in May 1921 to the second dáil for the new Leitrim–Roscommon North constituency (1921–3), he was reelected as a pro-treaty coalition candidate in the pact election (June 1922).
A close ally of executive council president William Cosgrave (qv), he was prominent in the formation (September 1922–April 1923) of the new pro-treaty political party Cumann na nGaedheal, serving on the subcommittee that drafted the party constitution. Secretary of the ten-member standing committee that forged the party's national organisation, he eased tensions between the organisers and members of government wary of sharing policy formation with an extra-parliamentary party machinery. Elected TD for the new Leitrim–Sligo constituency (1923–32, 1933–7), during the fourth dáil he was general secretary of Cumann na nGaedheal (1923–4), and party chief whip and parliamentary secretary to the president of the executive council (1924–7). He was briefly the party's director of elections (November 1924); after shock defeats in two by-elections, his proposals for radical overhaul of the party organisation were implemented in spirit if not in precise detail by the transfer of effective power to a new organising committee. After service as leas-cheann comhairle in the brief fifth dáil (June–September 1927), he was parliamentary secretary to Patrick McGilligan (qv), minister for industry and commerce (1927–32). He was one of five directors of the official Cumann na nGaedheal organ, The Star, which competed unfavourably with Fianna Fáil's Irish Press in the early 1930s. Defeated in the 1932 general election, after regaining his seat in 1933 he served again as party chief whip till the formation of Fine Gael (September 1933). During the 1920s he moved residence to Dublin, where he lived in Rathmines and worked as a commercial agent; the resultant lessening of contact with his constituents contributed to his political demise. Opposed by activists from the southern region of the county, he failed to secure a Fine Gael nomination in the new three-seat Leitrim constituency, and was defeated as an independent candidate in the 1937 general election. After living in retirement at 28 Palmerston Gardens, Rathmines, he died on 13 July 1955, survived by his wife Loreto (her maiden name and the date of their marriage are unknown), four sons, and two daughters.