Robinson, Séamus (1890–1961), republican, was born James Robinson on 6 January 1890 at 22 Sevastapol St., Belfast, son of James Robinson, insurance agent, and Sarah Jane Robinson (née Black). His grandfather had been a Fenian and spent some time in exile in France, where his father was born. Educated at the Dominican convent, Falls Rd, St Mary's CBS, Divis St., and De La Salle Brothers, Clonard, he played hurling with the Oscars club, one of the Fianna Éireann hurling clubs established in Belfast by Bulmer Hobson (qv). When his family emigrated to Glasgow in 1903 he continued his education at Marist Brothers and St Michael's College, Dumfries, but had to leave school early because of eye strain, and took up a post with the engineering firm Montcalm & Moncouers in Edinburgh.
In Glasgow he was involved in sectarian fights and joined the Gaelic League, the Irish Volunteers, and (in February 1916) the IRB. In 1916 he joined the Glasgow Volunteers who travelled to Dublin to take part in the Easter rising, in which he was in charge of the garrison in Hopkins & Hopkins, O'Connell St. Arrested and interned in Stafford, Frongoch, and Reading, after his release on Christmas eve 1916 he was invited to assist in reorganising the Volunteers in Tipperary. In May 1918 he was imprisoned for six months in Belfast for illegal drilling and, after his release in October, was appointed OC South Tipperary Brigade. One of the ‘big four’ in the Tipperary IRA during the war of independence, along with Dan Breen (qv), Seán Treacy (qv), and Seán Hogan (qv), in 1919 he took part in the Soloheadbeg ambush and the rescue of Hogan from police custody at Knocklong station, both incidents resulting in the deaths of RIC constables. In 1920 he led raids on a number of RIC stations throughout Tipperary. During the war of independence he also spent periods in Dublin, assisting Michael Collins (qv) and his ‘Squad’ in unsuccessful assassination attempts on the viceroy, Lord French (qv), and the chief secretary, Sir Ian MacPherson (qv).
At the 1921 general election he was unanimously elected as Sinn Féin TD for Waterford–Tipperary East, but was defeated as an anti-treaty candidate in the 1922 general election. An opponent of the Anglo–Irish treaty, he was involved in some of the most acrimonious exchanges when it was debated in the dáil (December 1921–January 1922), during which he put particular emphasis on the importance of the independence of the military from political control. Elected to the anti-treaty IRA executive in 1922, he was part of the force that occupied the Four Courts, but left it on 27 June in protest at the policy of Liam Mellows (qv) and Rory O'Connor (qv) of concentrating most of the principal anti-treatyite leaders there. He escaped from Dublin and returned to Tipperary, where he became OC 2nd Southern Division. However, the division was paralysed by internal disagreements and he was unable to exert much control over his men, some, such as Dinny Lacey (qv), refusing to take orders from him.
He joined Fianna Fáil in 1926 and was elected to the Irish Free State Senate (1928–35). Subsequently, he was appointed to the military service pension board (1935), the Bureau of Military History (1948), and the military registration board (1953). Married with three sons and five daughters, he lived at 60 Highfield Rd, Rathgar, Dublin. He died 8 December 1961 in Mount Carmel nursing home, leaving an estate of £1,352.