Kinnane, Michael Joseph (‘M. J.’) (1889–1952), civil servant and Garda Síochána commissioner, was born 18 January 1889 in Drumcondra, Dublin, son of Martin Kinnane and Eileen Kinnane (née Carney), national school teachers. Raised in Mountbellew, Co. Galway, and educated at Blackrock College, Dublin, and later at the University of London where he received an LLB, he joined the British civil service, where he worked in the exchequer and audit department of the war office (1908–11) and the revenue department in Somerset House (1911–13). Appointed (1913) an estate duty officer in the custom house, Dublin, he transferred to the Irish Free State civil service in 1922, serving as principal officer in the Department of Home Affairs (Justice), before appointment as assistant secretary of the department in 1928, a post he held till 1938, when he was, reluctantly, appointed commissioner of the Garda Síochána in succession to Ned Broy (qv); ‘it was said that strong pressure was brought to bear to persuade him to take on the daunting job of head of the Garda Síochána' (Allen, 134).
Described as an ‘enlightened manager’ (ibid., 136), he used his civil service experience to institute significant reforms in the force: he tried to bring garda working hours into line with those in other professions; relaxed rigid rules governing gardaí residing in stations; helped institute a system of negotiations on pay between government and garda representatives, which aimed at improving salaries and garda welfare; and started the revision of the antiquated police code inherited from the RIC. As a result he was a popular commissioner within the force. In 1944 he opposed demands from Comhdháil Náisiúnta na Gaeilge for the gaelicisation of the force and the limiting of recruitment to candidates proficient in Irish, but he allowed the garda drill book to be translated into Irish. During the second world war he was involved in organising supplementary policing.
A keen sportsman, he played rugby and golf, and was a founder member and first secretary of Woodbrook golf club. He lived at Beaumont Lodge, Booterstown, Co. Dublin, with his wife Dorothy, and died 10 July 1952, leaving an estate of £3,837. He was commissioner at the time of his death and was succeeded by Daniel Costigan (qv).