Fahy, Francis Patrick (‘Frank’) (1879–1953), politician and Irish-language activist, was born 23 May 1879 at Glenatallan, Kilconickny, Loughrea, Co. Galway, eldest among five sons and two daughters of John Fahy, teacher, and Maria Fahy (née Jones). After receiving initial education at his father's national school at Kilchreest, Co. Galway, he boarded at Mungret College, Limerick, and subsequently graduated from UCG with a BA and an H.Dip. in education and double diploma in science; he was also called to the bar in 1927 at King's Inns, Dublin. On leaving UCG he began teaching at the Christian Brothers' school in Tralee, and afterwards taught Latin, Irish, and science at St Vincent's College, Castleknock, Dublin (1906–21). Closely associated with Patrick Pearse (qv), Thomas MacDonagh (qv), and Arthur Griffith (qv), Fahy became a Gaelic League activist (and, later, general secretary of the league), and treasurer of the Kerry county board of the GAA. During school holidays he assisted Liam Mellows (qv) in organising units of the Irish Volunteers, of which he was a founding member, in his native area of east Galway. As captain of C Company, 1st Bn, Dublin Bde, under Edward Daly (qv), he commanded the contingent that occupied the Four Courts during the 1916 rising. Sentenced to ten years in prison, he spent terms in several British jails. Released in the general amnesty of June 1917, he was active in the reorganisation of the Volunteer movement, addressing public meetings throughout the country. Again arrested during the ‘German plot’ round-up of May 1918, he was deported without trial to Reading jail. Sinn Féin candidate in Galway South, he captured 85% of the vote in the December 1918 general election, trouncing the incumbent nationalist MP William John Duffy, who had held the seat for eighteen years, and commenced a thirty-five-year tenure representing several Galway constituencies that would conclude only in his death (Galway South,1918–21; Galway, 1921–37; Galway East, 1937–48; Galway South, 1948–53). A member of the first Dáil Éireann, he toured the Aran islands and Connemara on behalf of a committee examining options for revitalisation of the Irish fishing industry (a prominent feature of Sinn Féin's economic programme), and was appointed assistant minister for the national language under J. J. O'Kelly (qv). Continuing the while in his teaching post, and seeing active IRA service during the Anglo-Irish war, he is reputed to have appeared in his classroom with eyebrows singed on the day after the burning of the Custom House (25 May 1921). Although opposed to the Anglo-Irish treaty, Fahy took a more judicious and balanced approach to the issue than some of his republican colleagues, denouncing in dáil debate the intimidation of TDs by elements of the anti-treaty IRA. While asserting that, had the treaty been submitted unsigned to the dáil, it would have been rejected by an overwhelming majority, he refused to impugn the honour or integrity of the plenipotentiaries, and acknowledged their unenviable position in the London negotiations. Describing the agreement as a fait accompli on which further argument and decision must be based, he nonetheless asked: ‘Is not the declaration of the republic also a fait accompli, or have we been playing at republicanism?’ (Treaty debs., 195). He clung to the last of seven Galway seats as anti-treaty candidate in the June 1922 election. His approach, on behalf of a Gaelic League peace committee, to Austin Stack (qv) in the hope of arranging a truce during the civil war (December 1922) met with a guardedly favourable response from Éamon de Valera (qv), but was frustrated by the persisting expectations of military victory of the anti-treaty chief of staff, Liam Lynch (qv). Re-entering the dáil chamber with the new Fianna Fáil party in 1927, after the party's victory in the 1932 general election – in which he topped the poll in his constituency – he was elected ceann comhairle, a position he held till 1951, returned automatically to his dáil seat through seven general elections. He also became chairman of both the local appointments and the civil service commissions. Regarded as judicious and impartial in the speaker's chair, he retained the office even after Fianna Fáil's 1948 electoral defeat, perhaps also in recognition of the moderate position he had adopted on the treaty. In 1949 he led the Irish delegation to the meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at Stockholm, where he spoke of ‘unequal treaties’ and made a forthright statement opposing the partition of Ireland. He presided at the Inter-Parliamentary conference when it met in Dublin in 1950. The following year he resigned as ceann comhairle on health grounds. Fahy married (1908) Anna Barton from Tralee, a metal artist and active member of Cumann na mBan; they had no children. Resident at the time of the Easter rising at Islandbridge, during his lengthy dáil tenure they lived at addresses in Howth, Whitehall, and Dundrum. Still a sitting TD, he died on 12 July 1953 as a result of heart disease at his home in Ranelagh, Dublin.
GRO, Dublin; Dáil private sessions (1921–2); Dáil treaty debs. (1921–2); Flynn (1928–45); Ir. Times, Ir. Independent, 13 July 1953; Ir. Press, 15 July 1953; Piaras Béaslaí, ‘The North King Street area’, in Dublin's fighting story (1956?), 52; WWW; Breandán MacGiolla Choille (ed.), Intelligence notes 1913–16 (1966); Earl of Longford and T. P. O'Neill, Eamon de Valera (1970); C. Desmond Greaves, Liam Mellows and the Irish revolution (1971); Walker; James H. Murphy (ed.), Nos autem: Castleknock College and its contribution ; Arthur Mitchell, Revolutionary government in Ireland: Dáil Éireann, 1919–22 (1995); 1916 rebellion handbook (1988 ed.); Timothy McMahon (ed.), Pádraig Ó Fathaigh's war of independence: recollections of a Galway Gaelic Leaguer (2000)