Smiddy, Timothy Aloysius (1875–1962), economist, academic, and diplomat, was born 30 April 1875 in Cork, son of William Smiddy, a businessman and victualler, of Kilbarry House, Cork, and Norah Smiddy (née Mahony). He was educated at St Finbarr's College, Cork, at QCC, at Saint-Sulpice, Paris, and at the Handelshochschule, Cologne, where he was awarded his MA degree. In 1909 he was appointed professor of economics at UCC; he held this position until 1923, and was by all accounts a popular professor among the student body. By 1923 he was dean of the faculty of commerce at UCC and warden of the Honan hostel, and had unsuccessfully stood for the presidency and registrarship of the college in 1919.
A close friend of Arthur Griffith (qv) and Michael Collins (qv), Smiddy was an economic adviser to the treaty delegation in London in 1921. In March 1922 he was sent by Collins as the envoy and fiscal agent of Dáil Éireann to the US, and remained in Washington until 11 January 1929. In the turbulent years of the Irish civil war Smiddy often had to confront and overcome those in Irish-America who did not support the Irish Free State. On 7 October 1924 he was appointed Ireland's envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the US. He was the first diplomatic agent officially appointed by the Irish Free State, and the appointment was important in raising the profile of the Irish Free State in the US as an independent state. The Irish Free State now had direct and unimpeded access to the US government and did not have to rely on the British embassy in Washington. Smiddy also undertook many speaking engagements among the Irish community in America, stressing the continuing economic development of the Irish Free State in the 1920s and the political stability in the country following the end of the civil war.
As Irish minister he had to incur repeated hostility from some quarters of Irish-America, who attempted to bring into the public domain aspects of his private life. However, his eight years in the US did much to improve the Irish Free State's standing among the Irish-American community. During the 1920s Irish issues often attracted attention in the US; for example, the 1928 visit by the president of the executive council, W. T. Cosgrave (qv). Smiddy played a significant role in publicising such events to ensure the maximum publicity for Ireland.
He was appointed Irish high commissioner in London on 5 February 1929, and held the post to 14 December 1930, on the basis that the appointment was always going to be temporary. While in London he represented Ireland at the 1930 London naval conference. Smiddy served on the tariff commission from his return to Ireland (December 1930) to 30 April 1933. On 1 May 1933 he was appointed as the head of the combined purchasing section of the Department of Local Government and Public Health, a post he held to 30 April 1945. During these twelve years he was also assigned to special duties by the Department of the President of the Executive Council/Taoiseach. He was chairman of the commission on agriculture (1939–45) and chairman of the summertime committee (1940–56).
He served on the boards of various companies: he was chairman of the Trade Loans Committee (1933–57), director of the Central Bank of Ireland (1943–55), chairman of the committee of inquiry into post-emergency agricultural policy (1947–57), member of the Institute for Industrial Research and Standards (1946–55), and chairman and managing director of Arklow Pottery (1946–59). A stocky figure with a ruddy complexion, Smiddy was mild-mannered and cultured, a noted conversationalist, an able pianist, and a keen golfer and horseman. In Washington he used to take an early morning ride in Rock Creek Park. In addition, he was a gifted linguist. In the academic world, he published on many economic and educational topics. As a diplomat he was cautious, often non-committal, and like many of his generation in the Irish diplomatic service, was a man of great reserve. Timothy Smiddy died 9 February 1962 in a Dublin nursing home and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery. He left an estate of £2,850.
He married (1900) Lillian, daughter of Cornelius O'Connell, of Cork; they had five daughters and one son.