Spring, Daniel (1910–88), politician, trade unionist, and sportsman, was born 22 July 1910 in Spa Rd, Tralee, Co. Kerry, fifth eldest among five sons and nine daughters of Arthur Spring, butcher, and Catherine Spring (née Commane). Educated at Strand St. national school, he worked in the Tralee mills of Latchfords and Kellihers. He joined the Irish Transport and General Workers' Union (ITGWU) in 1934, soon becoming a union official based in Tralee and organising throughout Munster; largely through his efforts, by the early 1940s the union's Tralee branch (of which he became secretary in 1940) trebled in membership to 1,500. A prominent Gaelic footballer, he won two Kerry senior club championship medals with O'Rahillys, Strand Rd (1933, 1939), and played on four Kerry sides that won Munster championships (1936–7, 1939–40). An astute full forward, particularly adept at ball distribution, he won three senior all-Ireland championship medals: on the substitute panel in 1937, he scored both Kerry goals in the 1939 final against Meath, then captained the 1940 side. Springboarding into a political career on the strength of his athletic fame, he won election to both Tralee Urban District Council (topping the poll) and Kerry County Council, representing the Labour Party (1942). The following year – the fact that Labour had only three branches in the Kerry North constituency notwithstanding – he won election to Dáil Éireann, commencing a remarkable thirty-eight-year tenure (1943–81). The first Kerry Labour TD, he held his seat, sometimes by the slimmest of margins, regardless of the party's variable fortunes at national level. While trade unionists formed the backbone of his active support, his persistent success was founded on a loyal personal following that drew transferred votes from all quarters. His colourful election-eve rallies were marshalled by pony-men from the mountains wielding burning sods of turf. Diligent and shrewd in his constituency work and commanding a tight organisation, he engineered infrastructural improvements and industrial development in Tralee and environs. He urged the de Valera (qv) government to reprieve the death sentence on the IRA chief-of-staff Charlie Kerins (qv), a Tralee native convicted for the 1942 murder of a garda detective sergeant; personally opposed to capital punishment and arguing that the recent absence of IRA activity warranted clemency, Spring was one of three TDs suspended for their protests on the eve of the execution (1 December 1944). Loyal to the ITGWU when it disaffiliated from the Labour Party in 1944 in the controversy following readmission of James Larkin (qv), he joined the breakaway National Labour Party, contesting two general elections under its banner (1944, 1948). Pragmatic and ideologically non-dogmatic, he often mediated between the two wings of Labour until reunification in 1950. During the second inter-party government he briefly held office as parliamentary secretary to the minister for local government (1956–7). He survived efforts by Fianna Fáil to dislodge him by reducing his constituency from four seats to three, manipulating the new electoral alignment to Fianna Fáil's disadvantage. Attuned to the conservative sensibilities of his rural constituency, he distanced himself from his party's move to the left before the 1969 general election; waging a highly personal campaign, he clung to his seat despite Labour's rout in the rest of Munster. Cautious in policy matters and gentlemanly in demeanour, he rarely contributed to dáil debates, quipping that he had seen too many men talk their way into the dáil then quickly talk their way out of it. A member of numerous local public bodies, he sat on the governing body of UCC (1967–72) and was president in 1968 of the Municipal Authorities of Ireland. Chairman of Kerry County Council in 1968–9, he retired from the body in 1979 to make way for his son, Richard ‘Dick’ Spring, who also succeeded to his dáil seat (1981). He died at his home on Strand Rd, Tralee, on 6 September 1988.
Spring married (1944) Anne Laide, a psychiatric nurse from Garrynagore, Lixnaw, Co. Kerry; they had three sons and three daughters. Their son Dónal Spring won eight rugby caps for Ireland, and played on the Munster team that beat the New Zealand All Blacks (1978). Dick Spring played Gaelic football and hurling for Kerry and won three rugby caps; following his father into politics, he was Labour TD for Kerry North (1981–2002), Labour Party leader (1982–97), tánaiste (1982–7, 1993–7), and minister for the environment (1982–3), for energy (1983–7), and for foreign affairs (1993–7).