Corish, Richard (1886–1945), trade unionist and politician, was born 17 September 1886 at 35 William St., Wexford town, eldest among three children of Peter Corish, carpenter, and Mary Corish (née Murphy). Educated at the CBS Wexford, he worked (1903–11) as an apprentice fitter in the Star Engineering Works, Wexford, where he was a founding member of the ITGWU in June/July 1911. To counter this unionisation the local employers locked out their workers in August 1911 and a bitter and violent dispute ensued. Corish represented the Star workers on a conciliation committee and became one of the leading local union representatives. During the dispute he was arrested and detained overnight on the charge of ‘persistently following’ a non-union foundry worker who had been employed during the lock-out. The dispute was resolved on 8 February 1912 when the employers, who refused to have any truck with the ITGWU, agreed to recognise an Irish Foundry Workers Union. Affiliated to the ITGWU, the new union was nothing more than a flag of convenience, and with Corish as its secretary (1912–15), the Irish Foundry Workers Union was absorbed completely into the ITGWU by 1914.
Corish remained a union official and served on the executive of the ITGWU and the Labour party and on the Wexford trades council. However, to supplement his earnings he also worked as an insurance agent. An alderman of Wexford corporation (1913–45), he was a co-founder and hon. secretary of the St Patrick's Workingmen's Club. Suspected of being involved in the Easter rising, he was arrested on 8 May 1916 and imprisoned in Stafford detention barracks until early June 1916. In 1918 he was imprisoned for a week for refusing to have his children vaccinated. First elected to Wexford county council in 1920, Corish remained a member until his death (1945). He also served as mayor of Wexford town from 1920 until his death. He refused to take the oath required of a JP in 1920, and on 25 March 1920 received a threatening letter declaring that he would be assassinated if any RIC officers were shot. A member of the dáil courts, he was arrested during a sitting in Wexford town hall in early 1920.
In 1921 Corish became a Sinn Féin TD and was the only Labour member elected, as the Labour party did not contest the election. On 7 January 1922 he voted for the treaty, arguing that the voters in 1918 had not declared for a republic but simply had rejected the Irish parliamentary party. Corish, who strongly opposed Jim Larkin (qv) in the conflict within the ITGWU in 1923–4, represented Wexford as a Labour TD between 1922 and 1945. A front-bench spokesman in the dáil during the 1920s, he was critical of the abstentionist policy adopted by those opposed to the treaty, and took a prominent part in debates on local government issues, particularly in relation to housing. He was also the foremost champion of the Garda Síochána, strongly opposing the 1924 and 1929 reductions in Garda pay and allowances. In August 1927, if the opposition had succeeded in its bid to oust Cumann na nGaedheal, it is likely that Corish would have been appointed minister for defence under Thomas Johnson (qv).
A member of the Greater Dublin commission (1926) and the poor law commission (1927), he was a director of the Irish Tourist Association, president of the Council of Municipal Councils, and a representative on the General Council of County Councils. He was also a member of the governing body of UCD, high chief ranger of the Irish National Foresters, and president of the Wexford Musical Society. Early in 1945 he received the freedom of Wexford town. He died 19 July 1945 in Wexford after an operation, leaving an estate valued at £451.
He married (September 1913) Kathleen (d. 1987), daughter of Daniel Bergin, baker, of Peter St., Waterford. They had a daughter and five sons, including Brendan Corish (qv), TD, and Des Corish, mayor of Wexford 1973. His granddaughter, Helen Corish, was mayor of Wexford in 1990. The family lived at 1 St Ibar's Villas, Wexford.