George C. Bennett

George Cecil Westropp Bennett (1877 – 20 June 1963) was an Irish Catholic Cumann na nGaedheal and Fine Gael politician from 1927 to 1953. He was born in Ballymurphy, his father's estate in County Limerick in 1877. He was the second son of Captain Thomas Westropp Bennett, a British Army officer and a scion of an old Limerick family of Protestant Irish Gentry, a class known in history as Anglo-Irish. His forebears has been landowners in Co Limerick since the 1650s, active in local politics as Justices of the Peace and Freemen of Limerick. Two maternal ancestors, Lord Massy of Duntryleague and General Lord Clarina had sat in the Henry Grattan's Irish Parliament in the 1780s and 1790s both in the Irish House of Commons and Irish House of Lords. His elder brother Thomas Westropp Bennett had a very successful career as a Senator and Cathaoirleach of the Irish Free State Senate as well as serving in the Board of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOS) for many years with Sir Horace Plunkett.

George C. Bennett
Thomas Westropp Bennett and George C. Bennett, circa 1928
Teachta Dála
In office
June 1927  February 1948
ConstituencyLimerick constituency
Senator
In office
April 1948  August 1951
ConstituencyTaoiseach's nominee
Personal details
Born1877
Limerick, Ireland
Died20 June 1963
Limerick, Ireland
NationalityIrish
Political partyCumann na nGaedheal,
Fine Gael

George C. Bennett spent several years farming in Canada before returning to Limerick. He became a Magistrate, County Councillor and Vice Chairman of the local Hospital Committee and was involved in many other charitable projects which brought him a considerable local following. A noted farmer, agricultural expert he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Cumann na nGaedheal Teachta Dála (TD) at the June 1927 general election for the Limerick constituency.[1] He later joined Fine Gael.

Throughout his time in the Dáil he was renowned as a strong defender of the Agricultural interest and was very popular with his constituents. After a redrawing of the boundaries of the Limerick constituency he was not re-elected in the 1948 general election but the Inter Party Government Taoiseach John A. Costello nominated him to the Seanad where he sat until 1951 in recognition of his service to Ireland.[2] A noted agricultural and financial expert, he inherited an estate called Rathaney from his sister Jane Bennett and owing to his financial independence gave all of his parliamentary salary to funding his constituents. A noted member of Fine Gael, he died in June 1963 after a political lifetime spent in the service of the people of Limerick and the wider Irish State. He never married, though had a wide and catholic circle of friends throughout Ireland and the UK. He was rated as "an excellent shot" and was an enthusiastic huntsman and breeder of blood stock and pedigree dogs; the famous Milltown Irish Red Setters are a legacy of his.

His obituary in The Irish Times in 1963 said that he had been "a popular public representative". In an interview in 2008 Liam Cosgrave, the former Taoiseach of Ireland, who knew George Bennett well, said that "in 60 years he never heard a bad word said against Bennett who was held in universally high regard".

References

  1. "George Bennett". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  2. "George Bennett". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 5 April 2009.

Sources

  • Based on facts from the Irish Free State Parliamentary Companion 1932.
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