Egan, Patrick (1841–1919), nationalist, was born 13 August 1841 in Ballymahon, Co. Longford, son of Francis Egan, a tenant-farmer who later became a civil engineer. Educated locally, at the age of 17 he moved to Glasnevin, Dublin, and began working as a clerk at the headquarters of Murtagh Bros Ltd., one of the largest milling companies in the country. A hard-working and ambitious man of sober habits, he had a small build, ginger hair, and (when provoked) a fiery temper. In 1860 he married a Miss Magee, daughter of an army pensioner, by whom he (reputedly) had as many as a dozen children. During 1862, after attending meetings of the National Brotherhood of St Patrick, he was sworn into the IRB and began attending evening classes at the Dublin Mechanics Institute on Abbey St. By the end of the decade, he was the chief accountant for his employers, a Dublin IRB leader, and a treasurer of the Amnesty Association (est. 28 June 1869). Through his involvement with the amnesty cause, he became supportive of greater cooperation between republicans and home rulers, and soon became a prominent member of the Home Government Association (est. May 1870) headed by Isaac Butt (qv), as well as becoming the IRB treasurer (c.1872). In the latter capacity he attempted, in vain, to buy out the Irishman newspaper owing to republicans' great distrust of Richard Pigott (qv).
By the time he was appointed assistant treasurer of the Home Rule League in November 1873, he was already a confidant of C. S. Parnell (qv), whom he persuaded to reenter politics and stand for Meath on the death of John Martin (qv) in 1875. Identifying with both the radical Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain and the ‘82 Clubs (a breakaway group from the conservative Home Rule League), Egan sought to radicalise the struggling home rule movement and make it more conducive to the interests of republicans and radical democrats by limiting the influence of moderates like Butt. He was still committed to this policy when, in August 1876, he was expelled from the IRB after its supreme council decided that the Home Rule League was no longer worth supporting. Although he resented this action, he still continued to associate with republicans. In January 1878, after organising a large celebration in Dublin to mark his release from prison, Egan befriended Michael Davitt (qv). Shortly thereafter, together with the republican James Rourke (1845–1921) and his nephew Thomas Brennan (qv), he purchased Murtagh Bros Ltd., renamed it the North City Milling Company, and established a very successful bakery in Store St., Dublin.
After being appointed chief treasurer of the Irish National Land League in October 1879, over the next eighteen months Egan, together with Davitt and Brennan, effectively controlled the Land League executive. Although he never spoke on league platforms and rarely gave press interviews, in January 1881 he was one of fourteen Land League officials who were put on trial in Dublin for opposing rent collection and encouraging sedition. Fearing that the Land League was about to be suppressed, on 3 February 1881 (a week after the Dublin trials had ended inconclusively) he moved to Paris, conferred with John O'Leary (qv) and James Stephens (qv), and began managing the Land League's funds from the French capital. In August 1881 he arranged the buying out of Pigott's three newspapers, establishing the ‘Irish National Newspaper Company’ and a new Parnellite newspaper, United Ireland, in their place. That winter, after the suppression of the Land League and United Ireland, he gave extensive funding to the Ladies' Land League (est. January 1881) and arranged the underground publication of United Ireland in London, Liverpool, and ultimately Paris. In February 1882 he accepted an invitation from the catholic hierarchy to stand as an Irish party candidate for Meath to protest against the suppression of the league, but soon withdrew his nomination, allegedly in deference to republicans' wishes. A strong supporter of the ‘no-rent manifesto’, he was very disappointed with the Kilmainham treaty (4 May 1882); rejected bitterly the catholic hierarchy's demand that he offer Land League funds as a reward to anyone who would assist the police in bringing the Phoenix Park murderers to justice; conceded to the demand of the Land League of America to return its past subscriptions to New York; and, after handing over the Land League's account books to Parnell, declined to act as treasurer of the Irish National League (est. 17 October 1882). Such actions led Dublin Castle to suspect (mistakenly) that he had financed the ‘Invincible’ conspiracy. On learning this from John Mallon (qv), he fled to France via Belfast and Liverpool once the Invincibles were put on trial (January 1883), before settling permanently in the USA.
After a short time in New York, he settled in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he became wealthy through dealing in grain, woollen mills, and particularly real estate. A close associate of Patrick Ford (qv) and Alexander Sullivan (1847–1913), in August 1884 he replaced the latter as president of the Irish National League of America, a position he held for two years. He also joined Clan na Gael but was never a prominent member, though for very many years he engaged in bitter personal quarrels and factional feuds with John Devoy (qv). Through Sullivan's influence, he also became a very active member of the US Republican party and was rewarded for his services in early 1889 when he was appointed American minister to Chile by the new Republican administration. Immediately prior to his departure for Chile, he played the leading role in helping Davitt identify Pigott as the forger of the letters used against Parnell during the special commission.
In October 1891, when a couple of American sailors were killed during the Chilean civil war, Egan threatened American military intervention. This made him a very unpopular figure among the victorious insurgents and caused him to be criticised by the Democratic party in congress. American historians have generally judged, however, that his ministry played an important part in the development of a more vigorous US foreign policy in South America. As his Nebraskan businesses had suffered badly during his absence, in 1893 Egan relocated to New York, where he remained active in Republican and Irish-American politics, identifying with the Irish National Alliance, a new Irish-American pressure group that had effectively replaced the Irish National Federation of America. Although a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, by the early 1900s he had ceased to be active in American politics, not least due to financial difficulties arising from failed property investments in New York. During 1901–2, together with J. F. Finerty (qv), he played a significant role in rallying sections of Clan na Gael behind the proposed United Irish League of America, of which he became vice-president when it was formally established in October 1902. Thereafter, although he often identified himself as an Irish republican, he encouraged Irish-Americans to support the Irish party as Irish nationalists' only credible political alternative, much to the chagrin of his old enemy Devoy. Effectively retired by 1910, after a brief visit to Ireland in 1914 he expressed support for the decision of John Redmond (qv) to send the National Volunteers into the first world war, and later condemned the 1916 rising, blaming Devoy entirely for the event and stating that he deserved to be shot. Patrick Egan died in New York city on 30 September 1919 and was survived by several of his children.