Hales, Seán (1880–1922), republican and TD, was born 30 March 1880 in Knocknacurra House, Ballinadee, Bandon, Co. Cork, eldest child of five sons and four daughters of Robert Hales, farmer, and his wife, Mary Fitzgerald, both from Bandon. He was educated at Ballinadee national school and Warner's Lane school, Bandon. After leaving school he went to work on his father's farm. He played hurling with Valley Rovers GAA club and was the Munster champion in the 56lb weight-throwing competition.
From an early age he followed in his father's footsteps and became involved in the republican movement. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1915 and became captain of the Ballinadee company in 1916. Arrested under the defence of the realm act after the 1916 rising he was imprisoned in Frongoch internment camp, Wales. After his release, in April 1917 he became executive of the short-lived Liberty League promoted by Count George Plunkett (qv). When the League merged with Sinn Féin, he helped reorganise the Volunteers. With his brothers, Tom (qv), Bill, and Donal, he continued his father's fight on behalf of evicted tenants and became involved with the anti-British Bandon People's Food Committee and the anti-landlord Unpurchased Tenants’ Association. He helped in the Sinn Féin takeover of the Southern Star newspaper and was a member of the new board of directors. In 1919 he became battalion commander of the first (Bandon) battalion Cork no. 3 (west Cork) brigade. He led the attack on Timoleague RIC barracks in February 1920, and the ambush of an Essex regiment patrol at Brinny in August 1920. The military patrol at Brinny managed to surprise the ambushers and Lieutenant Tim Fitzgerald of Bandon was the first Volunteer to be killed in action in west Cork. Hales then commanded the assault on two truckloads of British troops at Newcestown Cross in which a British officer was killed and several soldiers wounded.
Hales was appointed section commander of the west Cork flying column in 1920, and took part in the major action at Crossbarry (19 March 1921). In retaliation for the firing of the Hales home in March 1921, he led a contingent of Volunteers and burned Castle Bernard, the residence of the earl of Bandon. The occupant, Lord Bandon, was held hostage until General Strickland, the British OC in Cork, guaranteed he would not execute Volunteers in Cork prison. The British authorities yielded and there was an end to the policy of executing prisoners of war in the Cork area.
Hales was elected to the Bandon county electoral area in June 1920, nominated to the Dáil as a Sinn Féin candidate in the May 1921 elections held in fulfilment of the Government of Ireland Act. He was the only Cork brigadier to support the treaty and was elected in June 1922 as a coalition treaty candidate for Cork mid, north, south, south-east and west. During the civil war he led the expulsion of anti-treaty forces from Skibbereen, Clonakilty, and Bandon. He was appointed to the commission of agriculture in October 1922. On 7 December 1922 Hales was shot in Dublin by republican gunmen on orders from Liam Lynch (qv) directing the IRA to kill, amongst others, all deputies and senators who had voted for the Public Safety Act (28 September 1922) which established military courts with the power to impose the death penalty. In reprisal the Free State government ordered the execution without trial of four prominent anti-treaty prisoners, Rory O'Connor (qv), Liam Mellows (qv), Richard Barrett (qv), and Joseph McKelvey (qv) (8 December 1922). Hales was given a military funeral to the family burial place at St Patrick's cemetery, Bandon. A life-size commemorative statue was unveiled in his honour at Bank (latterly Seán Hales) Place, Bandon, on 19 January 1930.