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William Thomas Cosgrave

(1880—1965) president of the executive council of the Irish Free State


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(1880–1965)

Irish nationalist and first president of the Irish Free State (1922–32).

Born in Dublin, he became an assistant publican before fighting as an Irish Volunteer in the Easter Rising in Dublin (1916). Arrested, he was sentenced to death but the sentence was later commuted to penal servitude for life. After serving a year he was released and elected to the first Dáil Éireann (parliament), becoming minister for local government (1919–22). Accepting the Anglo-Irish treaty, in 1922 he was successively president of the second Dáil, chairman of the provisional government, and, after the establishment of the Irish Free State, president of its Executive Council (and minister of finance until 1923). Cosgrave founded the pro-treaty party Cumann na nGnaedheal, the precursor of Fine Gael, which he led in opposition from 1935 to 1944. His son Liam Cosgrave (1920– ) was Fine Gael prime minister from 1973 to 1977.


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