James McNeill

1869-1938 [br. of Eoin MacNeill]; b. Glenarm, Co. Antrim; ed. Belvedere and Emmanuel Coll., Cambridge; joined Indian Civil Service; served in Bombay [var. Calcutta], 1890-1915; arrested in 1916, though not connected with the Rising; elected Chairman of Dublin County Council; joined Sinn Féin and assisted de Valera on retirement; helped draft Free State Constitution; appt. High Commissioner of Free State at St. James’s Court, 1923-28; proposed by W. T. Cosgrave and succeeded Tim Healy as Governor-General, 1928-32; clashed with King’s Secretary over form of Letters of Credence; refused to attend Trinity Week unless the band played “Amhrann na bhFiánn”, June 1929;

chose to travel to Leinster House [Oireachtas] rather than bring de Valera for swearing-in when nominated President of the Executive Council, 1932; made subject of embarrassment by Frank Aiken and Sean T. Kelly, who absented themselves when he arrived at soirée of French Ambassador; published ensuing correspondence with de Valera, prevaricating over responsibility for outrage; retired on 1 Nov. 1932, some months prematurely, at King’s request in settlement of differences with de Valera; d. London; succeeded by Domhnall Ua Buachalla; his widow subsequently made an ambassador in a gesture of apology by de Valera. ODNB DIB

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National anthems: McNeill refused to attend Trinity Week in June 1929 unless the band played “Amhrann na bhFiánn [The soldier’s song]” and was rebuked by W. T. Cosgrave in The Sunday Chronicle during the ensuing controversy, writing that “the King is King of all (the British Commonwealth of Nations) and King of each”. (See Wikipedia entry on McNeill and assoc. Google link to Dublin University Harriers and Athletic Club: A Centenary 1885-1985 in text and .pdf. [link].)

Successor - Domhnall Ua Buachalla (1866-1963): as an Irish Volunteer he took part in the Easter Rising, 1916; elected MP for Kildare, 1918; opposed the Treaty in Dail Eireann as TD for same; nominated by Eamon de Valera in succession to McNeill, Nov. 1932; maintained low profile in office on instructions, and suffered removal of role of accepting credentials in favour of de Valera as President of the Executive; answered letter of condolence from Roosevelt on death of George V, 1936; removed from office by de Valera’s amendments to the Free State Constitution during abdication crisis; suffered financial loss due to 5-lease on alternative residence to Viceregal Lodge [now Aras an Uachtarain], as advised by de Valera; de Valera’s govt. forced by threat adverse publicity to pay the sum; Ua Buachalla attends inauguration of Douglas Hyde as first President; retires to manage his hardware firm in Maynooth. (See Wikipedia.)

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