Farrell, James Patrick (‘J. P.’) (1865–1921), politician and journalist, was born 13 May 1865 in Longford, eldest of five children of Patrick Farrell of Longford and Ann Farrell (née Lynam) of Strokestown, Co. Roscommon. Educated at St Mel's College in Longford, he became involved in the campaigns for Irish home rule and land reform in the 1880s, serving two prison terms for land agitation activities in 1889 and 1902. Before entering politics, Farrell worked as a journalist; his first job was as Longford correspondent for the Roscommon Herald during the 1880s. He wrote two books on Longford, Historical notes and stories of the County Longford (1886) and The history of County Longford (1891). After being defeated as an anti-Parnellite parliamentary candidate for Kilkenny city in the 1895 general election, he was returned for Cavan West in a by-election later that year. In 1897 he fulfilled his ambition of starting a local newspaper by establishing the Longford Leader, of which he was also the editor.
As MP for Longford North (1900–18), he was the leading figure in home rule politics in Longford, serving as president of the North Longford executive of the United Irish League. He was also active in nationalist associations such as the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Irish National Foresters, and sat on numerous municipal bodies including Longford county council and Longford rural and urban councils. A leading figure in the campaign for the breakup of large grassland farms in the ‘ranch war’ of 1905–8, he was tried in 1907 at the Wicklow assizes for his involvement in the campaign, but the case was dismissed when the jury failed to agree a verdict. Retried and convicted, he was imprisoned for six months in 1908, but released early on health grounds.
Farrell always supported the Irish parliamentary party leader, John Redmond (qv). Initially opposed to the formation of the Irish Volunteers, he joined in 1914 when Redmond gained control of them. After the Volunteer split he organised the National Volunteers in Longford and supported Redmond's decision to join the war effort by encouraging recruitment in Longford. Sinn Féin's victory in the Longford South by-election in 1917 resulted in its emergence as the dominant political force in Longford. In the 1918 general election Farrell was defeated by a substantial margin in the Longford constituency by Sinn Féin's Joe McGuinness (qv). He suffered a stroke during the campaign and was in poor health for the remainder of his life. He died 11 December 1921.
Farrell married (1888) Bridget Mary, daughter of Matthew Fitzgerald of Farneyhoogan, Co. Longford; they had five sons and three daughters. Throughout his life he lived in Longford town. He left no papers except a personal diary from the 1880s, which is in the Longford Museum.