Jimmy Deenihan

Jimmy Deenihan (born 11 September 1952) is a former Irish Fine Gael politician who served as Minister of State for the Diaspora from 2014 to 2016, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht from 2011 to 2014 and Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry from 1994 to 1997. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1987 to 2016. He was a Senator from 1983 to 1987, upon being Nominated by the Taoiseach.[1][2][3]

Jimmy Deenihan
Minister of State for the Diaspora
In office
15 July 2014  16 May 2016
TaoiseachEnda Kenny
Preceded byNew office
Succeeded byJoe McHugh
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
In office
9 March 2011  11 July 2014
TaoiseachEnda Kenny
Preceded byMary Hanafin
Succeeded byHeather Humphreys
Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry
In office
20 December 1994  26 June 1997
TaoiseachJohn Bruton
Preceded byLiam Hyland
Succeeded byNed O'Keeffe
Teachta Dála
In office
February 2011  February 2016
ConstituencyKerry North–West Limerick
Teachta Dála
In office
February 1987  February 2011
ConstituencyKerry North
In office
21 February 1983  27 February 1987
ConstituencyNominated by the Taoiseach
Personal details
James Deenihan

(1952-09-11) 11 September 1952
Lixnaw, County Kerry, Ireland
Political partyFine Gael
Spouse(s)Mary Dowling (m. 1988)
EducationSt Michael's College, Listowel
Alma materThomond College

Deenihan played Gaelic football with Kerry in the 1970s and 1980s. He also played rugby with Garryowen.

Early and private life

Deenihan was born in Finuge, Lixnaw, County Kerry in 1952. He was educated at St. Michael's College, Listowel and later at the Thomond College of Education in Limerick. He also spent time in college in the UK. He is married to Mary, daughter of former Kerry footballer John Dowling, who is a teacher of history and economics in Mercy Secondary School, Mounthawk.

Playing career

Jimmy Deenihan
Personal information
Sport Gaelic football
Position Right corner-back
Years Club
Club titles
Kerry titles 2
Years County Apps (scores)
Kerry 29 (0-00)
Inter-county titles
Munster titles 7
All-Irelands 5


Deenihan had much success at club and divisional level with his local teams. At under-age level he won an under-14 North Kerry Championship with Finuge in 1963. Five years later in 1968, he won an under-16 North Kerry Championship with the Listowel Emmet's club. He also played with the St Senans club at minor level. With Finuge Deenihan also won a North Kerry Senior League title in 1970, as well as a North Kerry Senior Championship title in 1987. With his local divisional team, Feale Rangers, he won two senior county championship medals in 1978 and 1980. While in college at St Mary's University, Twickenham in London he played with the Kingdom club and won a London Senior Football Championship.


By the late 1960s Deenihan was a key part of Kerry's inter-county set-up and was playing on the county's minor team. In 1970, he won a Munster minor medal, however, he never won an All-Ireland medal. Deenihan later moved on to the county's under-21 team, where he won back-to-back Munster titles in 1972 and 1973, as well as an All-Ireland title in 1973.

By this stage Deenihan was also a member of the Kerry senior football team. He won his first National Football League medal in 1973, however, Cork were the kingpins in the Munster Championship. Two years later in 1975, Deenihan captured his first Munster Championship and All-Ireland medals at senior level, under the new management of the legendary Mick O'Dwyer. It was the beginning of a glorious era for Kerry football and Deenihan played a key role in orchestrating much of the success.

In 1976, Deenihan won his second Munster title, however, Dublin gained revenge for the previous year by defeating Kerry in the All-Ireland final. 1977 was another frustrating year as Kerry won another set of National league and Munster titles but lost out to Dublin yet again, this time in the All-Ireland semi-final. By 1978, Kerry were ready for success. They easily won another Munster title and breezed into the All-Ireland final to face Dublin. The game itself is remembered for Mikey Sheehy's cheeky goal which he scored by lobbing the ball over the head of Paddy Cullen. The final score was 5–11 to 0–9 and Deenihan had finally secured a second All-Ireland medal. In 1979 Deenihan captured a fifth provincial title before later capturing a third All-Ireland medal following another emphatic victory over Dublin.

In 1980, Kerry breezed through the Munster Championship once again and later defeated Roscommon to win a third consecutive All-Ireland title. In 1981, Deenihan was appointed captain of the Kerry senior football team. It was a very special year as he collected his seventh consecutive Munster Championship medal before later leading Kerry out in a fourth All-Ireland final appearance. On the day the men from 'the Kingdom' easily defeated Offaly to give Deenihan his fifth All-Ireland medal. He rounded off the year by being presented with an All-Star award. At the start of 1982 Deenihan won a third National League medal when he captained Kerry to victory over Cork. Later that summer he broke his leg in training. He remained out of the game for eight months, meaning the injury effectively ended his inter-county career. Deenihan's last appearance in a Kerry jersey was in May 1983 when he played a challenge game at the opening of the Tarbert GAA field.

Deenihan also won Railway Cup medals with Munster in 1975, 1976, 1978, 1981 and 1982.

Political career

Seanad and Dáil Éireann

Just as Deenihan's inter-county football career was drawing to a close, his political career was just beginning. He unsuccessfully contested Kerry North at the November 1982 general election. Then, shortly after his retirement in 1983, he was appointed to Seanad Éireann as a nominee of Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald. Deenihan later became involved in local politics as a member of Kerry County Council. He was elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time at the 1987 general election, for Kerry North, and was re-elected there at the six subsequent general elections.

Deenihan has held a number of Front Bench portfolios with Fine Gael, including Youth and Sport (1988–1992) and Tourism and Trade (1992–1994) while Fine Gael were in opposition. In 1994 Fine Gael came to power and he was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. In 1997, he became party spokesperson for the Office of Public Works. 2002 saw Deenihan face his toughest election to date. He was re-elected by a margin of almost 500 votes ahead of sitting fellow TD Dick Spring. The 2002 election resulted in a near meltdown for Fine Gael. After the election of Enda Kenny as party leader he again received a Fine Gael front bench position as party spokesperson for Arts, Sport and Tourism. In the aftermath of the 2007 general election he became party spokesperson on Defence, after being elected atop the poll in the Kerry North constituency with 12,697 votes.[4] In July 2010, he was appointed as party spokesperson on Tourism, Culture and Sport.[5]

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

At the 2011 general election he was elected for the new constituency of Kerry North–West Limerick. On 9 March 2011, he was appointed by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, as Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.[2]

In May 2011, he set out proposals to acquire from the Bank of Ireland the old Irish Parliament building in College Green for the state, to use as a cultural venue.[6]

In November 2011, he met with the stars of Titanic: Blood & Steel, while they were filming on location in Dublin.[7]

He was reported by the Irish Examiner as having announced the awarding of the title of City of Culture 2014 to Limerick in June 2012 without indicating the criteria for selection.[8]

Minister of State for the Diaspora

He was dropped as a Cabinet Minister in a reshuffle in July 2014, but was later appointed as Minister of State with responsibility for the Diaspora at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs and Trade.[3]

His constituency was abolished at the 2016 general election; he stood for election in Kerry, but did not succeed.[4]


  1. "Jimmy Deenihan". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  2. "Noonan named as new Finance Minister". RTÉ News. 9 March 2011.
  3. "Simon Harris among new Ministers of State". RTÉ News. 15 July 2014.
  4. "Jimmy Deenihan". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 15 September 2009.
  5. "Bruton & Noonan return to Fine Gael frontbench". RTÉ News. 1 July 2010. Archived from the original on 4 July 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010.
  6. Paul Cullen (14 May 2011). "Government wants to repossess landmark College Green bank". Irish Times. Retrieved 14 May 2011.
  7. "Titanic TV show to boost Irish economy". RTÉ Ten. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011.
  8. "Special report: Limerick community hopes Ryan step-down marks end to troubled saga". Irish Examiner. 6 January 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
Preceded by
Tom McEllistrim
(Fianna Fáil)
Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Kerry North
Constituency abolished
New constituency Fine Gael Teachta Dála for Kerry North–West Limerick
Constituency abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Brian O'Shea
Minister of State for Food and Horticulture
Succeeded by
Ned O'Keeffe
Preceded by
Mary Hanafin
as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Succeeded by
Heather Humphreys
New office Minister of State for the Diaspora
Succeeded by
Joe McHugh
Gaelic games
Preceded by
Ger Power
Kerry Senior Football Captain
Succeeded by
John Egan
Preceded by
Ger Power
All-Ireland Senior Football winning captain
Succeeded by
Richie Connor
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