Hogan, Patrick J. (‘Paddy’) (1891–1936), politician, farmer, and solicitor, was born 30 May 1891 at Cloonmain, Kilrickle, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway, one of four sons and five daughters of Michael J. Hogan (d. 1913), extensive farmer and chief inspector with the estates commission, and Bridget Hogan (née Glennon). Michael Hogan was a member of a large farming family from Clare and married into the Glennons' 270-acre farm in Kilrickle, while Bridget had been educated in Belgium and France. The family had a second home in Dublin. Patrick attended St Joseph's College, Garbally, Ballinasloe, and then UCD, where he was a prize-winning student and a noted speaker at the Literary and Historical Society. His contemporaries included Arthur Cox (qv), George O'Brien (qv), Patrick McGilligan (qv), Kevin O'Higgins (qv), John Costello (qv), and Conor Maguire (qv). John Marcus O'Sullivan (qv) was among his lecturers. He graduated in 1912 and was immediately apprenticed at Lynch's solicitors, Ennis, Co. Clare. In 1915 he qualified and went into practice in Co. Galway: in Loughrea with Vincent Sheils and in Gort with James A. Murphy. He lived on, and farmed, the family farm at Kilrickle.
The timing of, and motivation behind, his entry into Sinn Féin is unclear. Unlike many of his contemporaries he was not especially inspired by cultural nationalism. He may have joined in 1917 and was probably active to some extent during 1918, but his real engagement with the movement had a more practical basis. He was interned in Ballykinlar, Co. Down, because he helped Conor Maguire to organise a sitting of the Sinn Féin land settlement commission in Loughrea in 1920. During his internment his commitment to politics increased. He also spent his time studying literature published by the Department of Agriculture and Technical Instruction. He was elected vice-president of the Irish Farmers' Union, an extremely conservative body, in 1921. In May he became a TD for Galway (the constituency was not contested). He supported the treaty and was appointed minister for agriculture in the provisional government in February 1922 and continued in that department after the establishment of the Irish Free State. Initially he was not a member of the executive council, but an extern minister. He became a full cabinet member when the position of extern minister was effectively abolished in June 1927.
Hogan's closest friend among his ministerial colleagues was Kevin O'Higgins. When in Dublin, Hogan lived with the O'Higgins family at Cross Avenue. Both were critical of Richard Mulcahy (qv), feeling that he did not prosecute the civil war in a sufficiently vigorous manner. They believed that much anti-treaty activity was motivated by a desire for social anarchy rather than any idealistic republicanism. Harsh repression, he argued, should be combined with further land reform. He introduced the latter in the form of the Land Act, 1923. Both believed that the new state's future lay within the framework of the commonwealth, and both were sceptical about a Catholic culture preoccupied with sexual morality and censorship. He strongly supported O'Higgins and Desmond FitzGerald (qv) in resisting the so-called army mutiny of 1924. They were disparagingly called the ‘Donnybrook set’ by Mulcahy and elements within the party, such as J. J. Walsh (qv), who favoured economic protectionism.
Hogan was the minister with whom Cumann na nGaedheal's economic policies were most closely associated; he was one of the few members of the Cumann na nGaedheal government of 1922–32 who had any coherent economic outlook. The basic assumption underpinning Hogan's vision was that agriculture was the most important sector of the Irish economy and it was likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. If farmers were prosperous, then the economy as a whole would be; therefore, policy should strive to maximise farmer income. This was to be done by encouraging farmers to produce, for export, those goods at which they had a competitive advantage: cattle, bacon, and dairy products.
He firmly opposed those who felt that the priority in agricultural production should be to make the nation self-sufficient and that the introduction of protective tariffs was the best way to encourage infant industry. Instead policy should avoid anything that lessened agriculture's competitive advantage. Tariffs, he believed, would lessen it in two ways. They would increase the costs of those goods that farmers needed to import (farm machinery and feedstuffs, for example). In addition, they would most likely incite retaliatory tariffs on Irish exports, making them more expensive for the foreign (especially British) consumer. The affluent farming class which, he believed, this low-cost export policy would create would then have surplus income, which they would invest in Ireland or spend on consumer goods, thus encouraging Irish industry. In 1922 Hogan's policy mirrored international trends and was supported by most professional economists and civil servants, but he was forced to modify it when the Wall St. crash led to depression and a worldwide move towards protectionism. In 1932 Fianna Fáil abandoned his policy entirely. George O'Brien's obituary of Hogan in Studies is the most coherent and interesting defence of these policies.
Hogan's disposition was that of a laissez-faire liberal. He described efforts to increase state intervention as the work of an ‘inevitable small minority of disgruntled individuals who are making pitiable attempts to make Ireland as far as possible a paradise for wasters’ (Milroy, Tariff commission, 44). He did, nevertheless, introduce an important series of laws which improved and regulated production standards. The reputation of Irish food (butter and eggs in particular) had suffered badly in Britain during, and in the wake of, the first world war. Irish producers, knowing they had a needy and captive market, willing to pay inflated prices, became careless and exported a lot of sub-standard products. Hogan's reforms went some way towards remedying this problem. He instigated regulations to improve the standards of animal breeding, and the Agricultural Credit Corporation, the Sugar Company, and the Dairy Disposal Company were established during his time in office. Walter Elliot (British minister for agriculture 1932–6) called Patrick Hogan the greatest minister for agriculture in the world. This is a dubious claim, but in the history of independent Ireland Hogan is the minister for agriculture with the greatest impact on his government's economic policy.
He was an impressive public performer, topping the poll in Galway in every election till 1932. At elections he relied on personal charisma and a network of school friends as the party machine was poor. Phrases such as ‘pungent wit’ and ‘vigorous invective’ have been used to describe his speaking style. He was effective and, sometimes, abusive in debate; in 1928 he was successfully sued for defamation by Malachi Muldoon for an election speech made in Ballaghaderreen in 1924. His manner, however, was affable, humorous, and approachable. This ensured he did not become a focus of hate, unlike O'Higgins. After Cumann na nGaedheal's fall from power he became somewhat disillusioned. He was reelected in 1933, but concentrated on his legal practice. He was a leading figure in the integration of the Farmers' Party, the Centre Party, and Cumann na nGaedheal into Fine Gael. He was the favoured candidate of Frank MacDermot (qv) and James Dillon (qv) to become the first leader of Fine Gael. He and his brother, James (qv), were among the first publicly to criticise Eoin O'Duffy's (qv) leadership of the party.
He had married (1930) Mrs Mena Davitt, widow of Dr Michael Davitt and daughter-in-law of Michael Davitt (qv). She had a son from her first marriage, and they had four daughters, among them Brigid Hogan-O'Higgins. When he died 14 July 1936 in a car crash at Monaghan Bridge, Aughrim, Co. Galway, W. T. Cosgrave (qv) said: ‘Our best man is gone.’ He left £12,253.