Patrick Little

Patrick John Little (17 June 1884 – 16 May 1963) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician.[1] A founder-member of the party, he served in a number of cabinet positions, most notably as the country's longest-serving Minister for Posts and Telegraphs.

Patrick Little
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
In office
8 September 1939  18 February 1948
TaoiseachÉamon de Valera
Preceded byThomas Derrig
Succeeded byJames Everett
Government Chief Whip
In office
8 February 1933  26 September 1939
TaoiseachÉamon de Valera
Preceded byGerald Boland
Succeeded byPaddy Smith
Teachta Dála
In office
23 June 1927  24 April 1954
Personal details
Born(1884-06-17)17 June 1884
Dundrum, County Dublin, Ireland
Died16 May 1963(1963-05-16) (aged 78)
Dublin, Ireland
Political partyFianna Fáil
OccupationSolicitor, journalist

Early life

Born in Dundrum, County Dublin, Little was the son of Philip Francis Little and Mary Jane Holdright.[2] Both his parents were Canadian natives, while his father had served as the first Premier of Newfoundland before settling in Ireland.[3] Here he became involved in the Irish Home Rule Movement.

Little was educated at Clongowes Wood College,[4] before later attending University College Dublin. Here he studied law and qualified as a solicitor in 1914.[2]

Revolutionary years

Little was engaged in the independence struggle from an early stage. Following the Easter Rising in 1916, he formed, together with Stephen O'Mara, the Irish Nation League, who while being opposed to the Irish Parliamentary Party and supportive of abstentionism, were wary of the militarism of the Irish Volunteers. In 1918 the Volunteers, the Irish Nation League, and Count Plunkett's followers, the Liberty Clubs agreed to merge under the Sinn Féin banner with Éamon de Valera as President to fight the 1918 general election on an abstentionist platform.[5]

Little contested the constituency of Dublin Rathmines but lost to Unionist Maurice Dockrell,[6] the only Unionist elected in the area that would become Irish Free State outside of Dublin University. He remained in the background of the Sinn Féin party for the next number of years. He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought with the Four Courts Garrison during the Civil War. In 1921 he was sent to South Africa to represent the Government of the Irish Republic.[2]

He became the first editor of An Phoblacht in 1925.[7] He also edited other republican newspapers including New Ireland, Éire and Sinn Féin.[2]

Political career

Little joined Fianna Fáil shortly after its foundation in 1926. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a TD for the Waterford constituency at the June 1927 general election. He represented the constituency until 1954.[8][1]

Little was appointed a Parliamentary Secretary and Government Chief Whip in 1933.[2][9] Little was appointed Minister for Posts and Telegraphs in 1939 and remained in this office until 1948.[8] He was not reappointed to the Cabinet in 1951. In 1952, following the death of Bridget Redmond, Fianna Fáil won the resulting by-election and held three out of four seats in the constituency. This would have been unsustainable at the next general election so Little did not contest the 1954 general election.[8]


He was the first chairman of the Arts Council from 1951 until 1956.[2][10] He was responsible for the development of the Radio Éireann Symphony Orchestra.[2] In 1957 he was appointed to the Council of State by Seán T. O'Kelly.[11] He was re-appointed to the Council by Éamon de Valera in 1959.[2]

Little died in May 1963.[8] He is a great-uncle of Green Party MEP Ciarán Cuffe.[12]

See also


  1. "Patrick Little". Retrieved 7 June 2012.
  2. "Obituary – Mr. Patrick J. Little". The Irish Times. 17 May 1963. p. 9. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  3. "The Irish Law Times and Solicitors' Journal". 71. 1937: 237. Retrieved 8 December 2012. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Costello, Peter (1989). Clongowes Wood: a history of Clongowes Wood College, 1814–1989. Gill and Macmillan. p. 202.
  5. The Resurrection of Ireland: The Sinn Féin Party, 1916–1923, Michael Laffan
  6. "General Election: 1918 – Dublin Rathmines". Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  7. MacEoin, Uinseann (1997). The IRA in the twilight years: 1923–1948. Argenta Publications. pp. 2, 117.
  8. "Mr. Patrick J. Little". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  9. "History of Government – Ninth Dáil – Parliamentary Secretaries". Department of the Taoiseach. Retrieved 20 November 2012.
  10. "Dreams and Responsibilities" (PDF). Arts Council. 1990.
  11. "Mr Little a member of Council of State". The Irish Times. 16 July 1957. p. 1. Retrieved 8 December 2012.
  12. "Dáil family trees show clans who rule Ireland". Irish Independent. 27 December 2009.
Political offices
Preceded by
Gerald Boland
Government Chief Whip
Succeeded by
Paddy Smith
Preceded by
Thomas Derrig
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
Succeeded by
James Everett
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