Ruttledge, Patrick Joseph (‘Paddy’, ‘P. J.’) (1892–1952), lawyer, politician, and racehorse owner, was born in Ballina, Co. Mayo. Educated at St Muredach's College, Ballina, and St Enda's school, run by Patrick Pearse (qv). he studied law at TCD and qualified as a solicitor in 1918, after which he returned to Ballina and became a partner in the legal firm of Ruttledge & Corr. As a student in Dublin he shared lodgings with Seán Mac Diarmada (qv). IRB centre for north Mayo and intelligence officer of the North Mayo Brigade and 4th Western Division, IRA, he was elected as Sinn Féin member of Ballina urban district council and Mayo county council in 1920, serving as chairman of both bodies. Arrested in November 1920 and imprisoned in Galway gaol, he was elected unopposed to the second dáil for Mayo North and West in 1921, and was released with the other TDs following the truce in July 1921. He voted in the dáil against the Anglo–Irish treaty, was elected to the anti-treaty IRA army executive in April 1922, and was a member of the ten-person committee (five anti- and five pro-treaty) appointed by the dáil in May 1922, which unsuccessfully sought to avoid a civil war. He was reelected unopposed to Dáil Éireann as an anti-treaty pact candidate for Mayo North and West in the 1922 general election, and in October 1922 he was made minister for home affairs in the unofficial republican administration of Éamon de Valera (qv). Serving in the anti-treaty IRA in the west during the civil war, he was involved in the recapture of Ballina from government forces (September 1922) and served as IRA adjutant-general in 1923, during which he sought to persuade Liam Lynch (qv) of the impossibility of continuing armed resistance. During the civil war he was shot and badly wounded, which affected his health for the remainder of his life.
As a member of Sinn Féin in the early 1920s, he was ‘acting president of the republic’ during de Valera's imprisonment, edited Sinn Féin's newspaper An Phoblacht, and was reelected to the dáil for Mayo North in 1923 but refused to take his seat. A member of Fianna Fáil since its foundation, and later a vice-president of the party, he was returned as TD for North Mayo at every general election until his death, usually topping the poll. He was minister for lands and fisheries during the first Fianna Fáil government (March 1932–February 1933); as minister for justice (February 1933–September 1939) he took a strong stance against the Blueshirts and associated organisations, which he believed were fascist and armed; he removed Eoin O'Duffy (qv) as garda commissioner and introduced the 1934 Wearing of Uniforms (Restriction) Bill, aimed at preventing the Blueshirts from wearing their uniform in public. He was not very active during his last government position as minister for local government and public health (September 1939–August 1941), and after his resignation in 1941 on health grounds, he was made solicitor general for wards of court. One of de Valera's closest allies, he was considered the third most important member of the government after de Valera and Seán T. O'Kelly (qv).
Interested in horseracing and coursing, he served in 1929 on a government-appointed betting commission which made a number of recommendations to regulate gambling, in particular the reform of betting tax. His election to the turf club on 19 April 1938, along with W. E. Wylie (qv), Gerald Martin and Daniel Twomey (qv), possibly resulting from the machinations of Joe McGrath (qv), was seen as a major change in that institution. In 1939 he was the leading racehorse owner in Ireland when his horse Mondragon won the Ulster and Irish Derbys. During the second world war, along with McGrath and Wylie, he was the principal figure in the central racing advisory committee established to devise a curtailed racing programme during the war. He married Helena Roddy and had three daughters; they lived in Ballina and later at Ardagh Park, Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, where he died 8 May 1952, leaving an estate valued at £5,000. After his death his wife served as a member of the Fianna Fáil national executive for fifteen years.