Gallagher, Frank (1893–1962), journalist, author, and republican, was born 22 February 1893 in Cork, one of a family of four brothers and five sisters of James Gallagher, an accountant, and his wife Kathleen Gallagher (née Whitely). Educated at Presentation College, Cork, he became a journalist, starting his career with the Cork Free Press where one of his earlier duties was as parliamentary correspondent at Westminster for coverage of the historic home rule debates. After falling out with the paper's proprietor, William O'Brien (qv) MP, over support for Irish participation in the first world war, he took a job with P. J. Little's (qv) New Ireland publication in Dublin. A staunch nationalist, he was a member of the committee that invited Sir Roger Casement (qv) to Cork to establish the Irish Volunteers. He then became involved with Sinn Féin and worked at the Roscommon by-election in which Count George Plunkett (qv) was elected in 1917 and became involved in organising the Mansion House conference to oppose conscription in 1918, as well as speaking all over Ireland, particularly the north, during the general election campaign of 1918. When the Sinn Féin director of propaganda, Robert Brennan (qv), was arrested, Gallagher stood in for him for the remainder of the campaign.
Throughout the war of independence and the civil war he served as an officer in H company, 3rd battalion, Dublin brigade of the IRA, but his real influence was as an outstanding propagandist, working for the publicity staff of the underground republican government; he spent two months in Mountjoy jail (May-June 1919). He became involved in 1919 in compiling and editing the Irish Bulletin and the following year worked under the editorship of Desmond FitzGerald (qv) until FitzGerald's arrest. In April 1920 Gallagher was imprisoned for a time and commenced a hunger strike. On his release he returned to the Bulletin under the editorship of Erskine Childers (qv) who became his hero and role model, with Gallagher remaining in awe of his ‘single-minded concentration’. Resolutely opposed to the Treaty, he remained close to Éamon de Valera (qv) and Childers during the civil war but shared Childers’ concern that de Valera's commitment to the republican strategy at this stage was faltering and his mental health collapsing. He remained convinced of the righteousness of the anti-Treaty position and the moral and holy purity of the revolution, believing the electorate had been deliberately duped. His writings during this period are indicative of a faith in which catholicism and nationalism interact with each other and he frequently referred, in terms similar to those of Patrick Pearse (qv), to the sacred duty, moral beauty and sublime purity of revolution, considering those who recommended a constitutional campaign (including his wife), as ‘poor revolutionaries’.
During the republican occupation of Cork in the course of the civil war he took over the editing of the Cork Examiner but was imprisoned in Dublin in October 1922, where he remained until 1924. During his incarceration he continued to write and display his deep religious convictions, chiding his fellow prisoners for not attending church services. On his release he became a tireless publicist for de Valera and later Fianna Fáil, acting as FF director of publicity during the September 1927 general election campaign. He served as personal secretary to de Valera in 1927 and 1928, accompanying him to America in both years; he used the time there to familiarize himself with new American newspaper technology . In the late 1920s he wrote voluminously for American newspapers and catholic periodicals. He was always eager to identify Fianna Fáil with a conservative catholicism, strongly supporting censorship, and editing a Fianna Fáil journal, the Nation (1928–30).
In September 1931 he was appointed editor-in-chief of the new Fianna Fáil newspaper the Irish Press. Under his direction the staff succeeded in raising the standard of Irish journalism, particularly in investigative reporting, literary criticism and sports coverage, as well as upholding traditional republicanism. In February 1932, ten days before the general election, Gallagher was summoned before the government's military tribunal on a charge of seditious libel because of stories published concerning the government's treatment of IRA prisoners, which resulted in a token fine, imposed the day after polling. It was a move which backfired for the Cumann na nGaedheal government and increased publicity for the new publication. Behind the scenes, however, Gallagher and his staff were treated appallingly in terms of wages and conditions, with Gallagher, who was refused a long-term contract, forced to work 16 hours a day for which he received £850 a year. In July 1933 he first offered his resignation owing to the treatment of his staff and finally resigned in 1935 after clashes with Jack Harrington, an American efficiency expert appointed by the Irish Press board. Admirers maintained that the quality of the paper deteriorated in his absence.
He was then appointed to the post of deputy director of the Irish broadcasting service, Radio Éireann, where his strong personality may have been intended to counteract that of P. S. O'Hegarty (qv), secretary of the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, a Cumann na nGaedheal supporter; he continued to contribute to newspapers on a variety of political topics, defending Fianna Fáil government policy. At the outset of ‘the Emergency’ in September 1939, Gallagher was appointed director of the Government Information Bureau. In this role he effectively became chief censor, a function which no doubt irked his former colleagues in Radio Éireann, given that he had a veto over all news bulletins; he also used his influence in the controlling of film censorship. A measure of his effectiveness during this period was the description of him as ‘the Irish Dr Goebbels’ by David Gray (qv), US minister to Ireland during the second world war. After Fianna Fáil's defeat in the general election of 1948 Gallagher was replaced as director of the Government Information Bureau and moved to the Department of Health where he served as press officer. He continued to write numerous articles, particularly for the Irish Press and Sunday Press, and was central to Fianna Fáil's anti-partition campaign, maintaining that the Treaty split had been caused by partition. Much of his propaganda was based on appealing to the outside world which he believed could be convinced of the injustice of partition.
On Fianna Fáil's return to power in 1951 he again assumed the position of director of the Government Information Bureau, where he stayed until 1954. From then until 1961 he served on the staff of the NLI working on preparations for a dictionary of national biography. He had also commenced preparing material for a biography of de Valera which did not materialise. Gallagher's literary output reflected his lifelong dedication to republicanism; predictably, opinion as to its quality was divided. His short story collections, Days of fear (1925) and The challenge of the sentry (1928) published under the pseudonym David Hogan, were based on the period of the troubles and his experiences of prison, as was Dark mountain and other stories (1931), for which he was awarded the first prize for the best collection of short stories at Aonach Tailteann. Also based on this period was Four glorious years (1953), perhaps his best book, which prompted one literary critic to suggest that as a historian he was intermittently fascinating and as diligent and accurate as his partisanship would allow, though somewhat tedious, simplistic, and melodramatic. For political contemporaries and sympathisers, his publications were valuable in recapturing the earnestness and emotion which fuelled the revolution, and proved the contention of Benedict Kiely (1919–2007) that ‘his pen was a mighty sword in the cause of Irish freedom’. The indivisible island (1957) was a well-researched tract against partition, funded by the anti-partition campaign, while the Anglo–Irish Treaty (1965) was an unoriginal part of an uncompleted biography of de Valera. Gallagher died 16 July 1962 at a Dublin nursing home, survived by his wife Cecelia and daughters, Ann and Mary. His papers are in the NLI.