Allan, Frederick James (‘Fred’) (1861–1937), Fenian, journalist and civil servant, was born 15 June 1861 in Dublin, the third son of William Gartley Allan (d. 1881?), a clerk in the accounts department of the Board of Public Works (until 1873), and his wife Ellen Batty (née Quince). The family lived at 3 Sandford Avenue, Ranelagh, Dublin. Frederick attended the Central Model Schools, Marlborough St., Dublin, which he left to work briefly as a clerk with the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) and as a free-lance journalist. In 1882 he joined the commercial department of the Freeman's Journal, where he showed great managerial and innovative ability; he helped modernise the paper's operations and by 1890 was its business manager.
Holding democratic opinions and influenced by the militant nationalist writings of John Mitchel (qv), he joined the IRB (1880) and was soon head of the organisation in Dublin (by 1883). He was secretary and later vice-president of a radical literary and debating club, the Young Ireland Society (set up in March 1881). In September 1883 he and other members of the Young Ireland Society founded the National Monuments Committee, which erected and maintained monuments over the graves of Irish nationalists, and in three successive Novembers (1883–5) organised demonstrations in Dublin to mark the deaths of the ‘Manchester martyrs’ – William Philip Allen (qv), Michael Larkin (qv) and Michael O'Brien (qv). On 2 November 1884, Allan was arrested at his home, 6 Waterloo Avenue, North Strand, Dublin, on a charge of possessing incriminating IRB documents. He was granted bail (28 November) and, the evidence against him appearing insufficient, charges of treason-felony were eventually dropped (8 December).
Warned against extremist politics by the owner of the Freeman, Edmund Dwyer Gray (qv), he became less active in politics for some years, though he was one of those who established in Dublin the National Club (June 1887). A political debating society and social club, it had premises at 41 Rutland Sq. that were often a meeting place for the IRB. When the home rule party of Charles Stewart Parnell (qv) split in consequence of Parnell being named as co-respondent in the divorce case of William Henry O'Shea (qv), Allan sided with the Parnellites (November–December 1890); he helped organise a large labour demonstration in Parnell's support in the Phoenix Park (May 1891) and, memorably, Parnell's funeral (11 October). The Freeman was for some months Parnellite; but after Gray's widow and son (who succeeded him as owners of the paper) turned anti-Parnellite in the summer of 1891, Allan was one of those who started the rival Irish Daily Independent (December). As business manager of the new Parnellite organ he introduced linotype (an important innovation); he also made his office in effect the headquarters of the IRB. In the 1890s he took part in a campaign for the release of Fenian prisoners, even visiting America in this connection (1893); about 1894 he was appointed secretary to the IRB supreme council in an attempt to revitalise the organisation, membership of which had fallen. To this end, he socialised with leading figures in the new cultural nationalist movement, interested himself in theosophy and organised seances among his friends; he also corresponded with British anarchists and contributed to socialist publications in London. As secretary of the 1798 Centenary Committee (formed March 1897), Allan played a co-ordinating role in the extensive centenary celebrations of the 1798 rebellion. He was associated with John O'Leary (qv) in establishing the Wolfe Tone Memorial Committee (June 1897) and a year later was its president.
When the Independent Newspaper Co. changed hands, Allan and other IRB men were laid off (late February 1899). Thereafter he was briefly manager of the Irish Associated Press, Advertising, News and Reporting Agency and published a short-lived theatrical and sporting paper, the Sporting Record, to which Joseph Holloway (qv) was a contributor. Previously he was treasurer of the Irish Journalists’ Association. Probably more for financial than for political reasons, he became private secretary to the lord mayor of Dublin, Sir Thomas Pile (1856–1931), a fish merchant and, like himself, a methodist. Though Pile was a home ruler he was not a Fenian, and so when Pile, as lord mayor, formally welcomed the queen during her visit of April 1900, Allan was politically embarrassed, rank-and-file IRB men objecting strongly. But the IRB supreme council was dormant; Allan's secretaryship was nominal and by 1904, for reason of other commitments, he had given it up; he remained only nominally a member until 1910. At the end of 1901 he entered the employment of Dublin corporation as secretary of the Dublin Electric Light Co.; a year or two later he took on also the post of secretary to the corporation's cleansing department. He was instrumental in establishing an electricity generating station in Dublin Harbour near the Pigeon House, in the redevelopment of the Cork Hill district of the city and in the opening of Fairview Park on reclaimed land. In April 1910, Allan again became secretary to the supreme council of the IRB, succeeding P. T. Daly (qv). But old quarrels made it difficult for Allan to reassert his authority; moreover he was at odds with the younger members, amongst them Patrick McCartan (qv) and Bulmer Hobson (qv) who managed to gain control of the IRB newspaper, Irish Freedom, thus bringing about Allan's resignation (January 1912). An attempt by Allan to start a rival version was an instant failure. In dismay he resigned from the IRB (March 1912).
He took little or no part in the Irish Volunteers (formed 1913) and disapproved of the Easter rebellion (April 1916). A close friend was John MacBride (qv), whose character he strongly defended during the divorce proceedings of MacBride's wife, Maud Gonne (qv) (July–September 1906). From about that time MacBride had been lodging with Allan and his wife Clara, at first (apparently) at Sandymount, later at 8 Spencer Villas, Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire), Co. Dublin (Allan's home since 1910). MacBride joined the rebels, despite Allan's objections, and forfeited his life. Allan took possession of MacBride's personal papers and, after appointment as secretary and joint-trustee of the Irish National Aid Association and Dependants’ Fund (1917), did much to relieve other insurgents and their families. While doing this work he became acquainted with Michael Collins (qv), a successor as secretary of the supreme council of the IRB, and was drawn into Sinn Féin. Allan became chairman of the Sinn Féin election committee for south County Dublin (1919). During the war of Irish independence he was secretary of the ‘republican court’ set up at Kingstown. In consequence he was arrested (10 January 1920) for possessing Sinn Féin documents and on conviction was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment (23 January). For his activities he was arrested again (14 November) and held in Mountjoy prison (until February 1921), before being interned at Ballykinlar, Co. Down (until 9 December). Allan supported the Anglo–Irish treaty and in December 1922 became chairman of a committee that brought into existence Cumann na nGaedheal, the governing party of the infant Irish Free State.
In 1922, by then in retirement from Dublin corporation, he was appointed head of the power and electricity committee of the Department of Industry and Commerce. Having attended the world power conference at Wembley as an Irish representative (1924), he advised the Irish Free State government to employ Swiss and Scandinavian hydroelectric experts to assist in setting up the Shannon electricity supply scheme. In his final years he was employed as controller of weights and measures until he retired from government service in 1933. Fred Allan died 16 March 1937 at 2 Brighton Vale, Monkstown, Co. Dublin, his family home since 1917, and was buried in a catholic section of Deansgrange cemetery. He and his wife Clara (née Neale) had married on 21 January 1885 at the Methodist Church in Jones Rd, Dublin. Her father was a clerk who later became a naval officer. Clara Allan was a methodist until she converted to catholicism; she died 15 October 1940. They had one son, Eugene, who, apparently brought up a methodist, was an electrical engineer with Dublin corporation, spent some time in Birmingham, and died 28 January 1942, leaving a son, Sean, who died in 1979.