Dooley, James Thomas (1877–1950), New South Wales premier, was born 26 April 1877 at Carrick Crean, Co. Longford, fourth son of Thomas Dooley, farmer, and Elizabeth Dooley (née O'Connor). The family emigrated to Australia when James was a child, landing in Brisbane on 1 August 1885. Briefly educated at a state school, he became a draper's assistant in 1888. He later worked as a tailor's apprentice, attending a technical college in the evening where he joined the Labor party and the debating society.
Around 1901 he moved to New South Wales, where he found employment as a tailor. Elected president of the Lithgow branch of the Labor party, he stood for election in September 1907 for the state seat of Hartley; he was successful and became the youngest sitting member (1907–20). He was later (1920–27) the representative of Bathurst. Vehemently opposed to conscription during the first world war, he remained in the party when W. A. Holman and others were expelled in 1916. Shortly afterwards he was elected deputy leader of the party, and when Labor won the 1920 election he became chief secretary and minister for housing. Schisms in the party soon appeared, however, and allegations of bribery were made against him that were discredited by a subsequent royal commission. On 8 October 1921 he succeeded John Storey as premier, but resigned (13 December) after a government defeat. The new administration, however, lasted only seven hours and Jim Dooley returned to power until March 1922 when Labor lost the election. In February 1923 he was expelled from the Australian Labor Party state executive, which was under Australian Workers' Union control, after calling the AWU ‘a crowd of uncouth crooks and selfish intriguers’; he was restored by popular demand in June. Disillusioned with the state of the Labor party, and internal disunity, he resigned (1 August) and was succeeded by J. T. Lang. In June 1925, when Labor returned to power, he was elected speaker of the assembly. Surprisingly, he was not selected for Hartley in 1927 and was forced out of politics. After failed attempts at hotel management in Leura and Lithgow, he was defeated for the senate in 1931 as an independent labor candidate, and in 1932 for the seat at Hartley. He moved to Brisbane and from there to Sydney, where he was forced by financial circumstances to accept a government pension. He lost the 1940 North Sydney election and retired permanently from politics.
A keen surfer and bush-walker in his youth, he loved amateur Shakespearean dramatics and performing comic songs, and even developed an interest in dancing in the 1920s. Hospitalised after a stroke in October 1948, he died 2 January 1950; he was buried in the catholic section of Botany cemetery. He married first (21 February 1905) Kate Rodé Trundle (d. 1936), whom he had met at college; second (16 March 1946) Irene Mary Kenney, a dressmaker. He had one son and one daughter from his first marriage.