« Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal Home »



Appointment of Mr. Donal Buckley



The following official announcement was issued from Government Buildings about half-past twelve o’clock on Saturday last—
His Majesty the King, on the advice of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State, has appointed Domhnall Ua Buachalla, Esq., to the office of Governor-General of the Irish Free State.
It was subsequently stated that at 12 o’clock noon the new Governor-General was sworn in at the residence of his brother, Mr. Michael Buckley, Rock Road, Booterstown. The oaths of office were administered by Chief Justice Kennedy, and there were present as witnesses Mr. Seon Moynihan, Secretary to the Free State Executive Council, and Mr. J. P. Walshe, Secretary to the Department of External Affairs. An official notice to this effect will appear in the next issue of the “Gazette.”
Mr. Walshe visited Buckingham Palace, London, earlier in the week, when, it is understood, he conveyed to the King the advice of the Executive Council regarding the appointment of Mr. Buckley, and his warrant of appointment arrived in Dublin on Saturday morning.
The new Governor-General, who is better known as Mr. Donal Buckley, was in the last Dail, sitting as Fianna Fail representative for his native county of Kildare. He was virtually a silent member, and on the rare occasions on which he intervened in debate he spoke invariably in the Irish language, of which he is a keen student.
A Complete Surprise
The announcement f his appointment on Saturday took the country by complete surprise. It was known on Friday that an appointment would take place immediately, and there was much speculation. Many names had been canvassed, but nobody ever thought of Mr. Buckley. Possibly one reason was that nobody thought that a Republican of Mr. Buckley’s very pronounced convictions would have undertaken to represent the King, even apart from taking the oaths required by the Letters Patent under which his appointment is made.
The oaths stipulated are as follows:—
“I, ———, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to King George the Fifth, his heirs and successors according to law. So help me God”
“I, ———, do swear that I will well and truly serve His Majesty King George the Fifth in the office of Governor-General of the Irish Free State. So help me God.”
It is noted that no public display was made of the swearing-in function, which took place at his brother’s house, in the presence of only a few persons. Rather different was the swearing-in of Mr. James McNeill on the 3rd February, 1929, when he took the oaths at Leinster House. The Chief Justice on that occasion administered the oaths, according to the official announcement, “in the presence of the Vice-President and members of the Executive Council, the Judges of the Supreme Courts and of the High Court, the Speaker of Dail Eireann, the Chairman of Seanad Eireann, the Attorney-General, and other persons there assembled.”
Not Going To London
It would seem that there will be no question of the new Governor-General’s going to London for presentation to the King. This is a usual, but not indispensable, procedure. It seems that there has been at least one instance in which the Governor-General of a Dominion did not go to see the King on his appointment.
What attitude the new Governor-General will take up towards those great functions with which the Governor-General is usually associated remains to be seen. It appears to be certain that he will not occupy the Viceregal Lodge, nor will he continue to reside at his present home near Maynooth. The probability is that he will take a smaller house at a convenient distance from Dublin, and will dispense with many of the formalities with which the office has heretofore been surrounded.
Question Of Salary
The question of the salary has been discussed. There are rumours that he has undertaken the office at a much lower sum than the £10,000 a year stipulated in the Constitution. Without legislation it would not be possible to alter the sum payable to the occupant of the office, nor could the Executive Council legally bargain with him to take less; but there is, of course, nothing to prevent Mr. Buckley’s taking a lesser sum, or even nothing at all, if he were so disposed.
In the event of the Viceregal Lodge falling into disuse, the Minister for Finance will be able to save a substantial portion of the sum of approximately £16,000 voted annually for its upkeep. A further saving will be effected if, as stated, the new Governor-General dispenses with the two Army officers to the services of whom he is entitled as aides-de-camp. The rumour is that, instead of Army officers, he will appoint non-commissioned members of the Civic Guard to attend him.
In regard to all these matters it was authoritatively stated on Saturday night that no decision had been come to by the Governor-General. It is possible even that in regard to the more important matters no final step will be taken pending the return of President de Valera from Geneva.
It is understood that Mr. Buckley will immediately resign from the position to which he was appointed shortly after the new Government came into office as one of the two Commissioners to report on the industries and other matters concerning the Gaeltacht.
How The King Is “Advised”
It is to be noted that in the form of the appointment of Mr. Buckley the Free State Executive Council exercised the rights which they acquired under the report of the Imperial Conference, 1930.
That report set out that the report of the Conference of 1926 declared that the Governor-General of a Dominion is now the “representative of the Crown, holding in all essential respects the same position in relation to the administration of public affairs in the Dominion as is held by His Majesty the King in Great Britain, and that he is not the representative or agent of His Majesty’s Government in Great Britain or of any department of that Government.”
The report adds that “the following statements would seem to flow naturally from the new position of the Governor-General as representative of His Majesty only:—
“1. The parties interested in the appointment of a Governor-General of a Dominion are His Majesty the King, whose representative he is, and the Dominion concerned.
“2. The constitutional practices that His Majesty acts on the advice of responsible Ministers applies also in this instance.
“3. The Ministers who tender and are responsible for such advice are His Majesty’s Ministers in the Dominion concerned.
“4. The Ministers concerned tender their formal advice after informal consultation with His Majesty.
“5. The channel of communication between His Majesty and the Government of any Dominion is a matter solely concerning His Majesty and such Governments  .  .  .  .  .  .  .”
The chief duty of the Governor-General, apart from his social activities, is to give the Royal Assent to bills of the Oireachtas. The first bill to come up for signature by Mr. Buckley will be the Appropriation Bill, which passed through the Senate last week, and must become law by the 30th of November.
Mr. Domhnall Ua Buachalla was born in Maynooth, County Kildare, and is aged 56 years. His father, Cornelius Buckley, was a native of Mallow, and his mother belonged to the Jacob family of Dublin. The late Cornelius Buckley was a native Irish speaker and all his children took a great interest in the language from an early age.
After a brilliant school career with the Jesuits, Mr. Buckley entered business as a general shopkeeper in Maynooth where he quickly established an extensive connection.
His entry into business life marked the beginning of a career that was destined to bring the new Governor-General into the floodlight of Irish history. While still in his teens he mastered the Irish language and then set about to diffuse the knowledge which had thus been gained. The Gaelic League of the County Kildare found him an indomitable worker in its cause and his services were in constant demand at Irish Ireland functions.
He was the presiding genius at many of our Feiseanna and Ceilidhe and his genial presence was always a source of delight and encouragement to the young people.
Mr. Buckley’s activities, however, were by no means confined to the cultural side of the Irish Ireland movement. He was an unflinching supporter of the cause of Irish Independence for which he risked both his life and property.
His first conflict with the military authorities occurred when he was summoned at Kilcock Court for having his name printed in Irish over his shop. When the case came on for hearing Padraic Pearse conducted the defence. Mr. Buckley was fined, but refused to pay. Police raided his shop and seized goods which were put up for public auction. There was a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Buckley amongst the local people and only one man attended the auction. He bought the goods for a small sum and promptly returned them to the owner.
Mr. Buckley established a branch of the Irish Volunteers in Maynooth and drilled in secret at night, keeping in close touch with the leaders in Dublin. Preparations were being made to take part in the 1916 Rising, but owing to the countermanding orders they were taken by surprise.
On Easter Monday Mr. Buckley was working in his shop in Maynooth when the first vague news came through from Dublin that the fight for independence had begun.
He cycled to the city to learn the facts, and on finding that the fighting was really in progress he returned and informed the other Maynooth Volunteers.
They numbered about twenty in all. Mr. Buckley was the only one who had a rifle, the others were armed mostly with shotguns, and one had a revolver. Before leaving for Dublin they went into Maynooth College and received the blessing of its then President, the Rev. Dr. Hogan.
Then they began the historic march to Dublin which was in the throes of the fighting. When they entered the city they first went to Glasnevin near where Volunteers were trying to capture a magazine. In military formation the Maynooth Volunteers marched down the North Circular Road to the Post Office in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
From then until the surrender Mr. Buckley took part in some of the fiercest encounters with the British.
He fulfilled with honour the prophecy of Padraic Pearse: “Buckley is a real patriot, and one of the most determined men in Ireland. When we strike our blow for Irish freedom I am certain he will be with us.”
At the end of that struggle Mr. Buckley was sent to Knutsford Jail for some weeks, and from there he was sent to Frongoch. He was released the following Christmas. Back once more in Maynooth he continued his efforts for Irish with added zeal.
In 1918 Mr. Buckley entered Parliamentary life. He was returned as a Sinn Fein member of Parliament for North Kildare. His victory was regarded as significant, since the defeated Nationalist candidate had represented the constituency for many years.
Mr. Buckley came more or less into the public view when he opposed the acceptance of the Treaty creating the Irish Free State. He was a member of the Dail until 1923, when he was defeated at the general election of that year, but was re-elected as a Fianna Fail member in the general election of 1927. Mr. Buckley was not a prominent member of the Dail in the matter of speech-making, but, being regular in attendance, he was most useful to his party. Most of his speeches in the Dail were delivered in Irish.
Mr. Buckley retired from business a few years ago, leaving the shop premises to his son.
The new Governor-General is a widower. His wife died in 1918, and he resides now with two of his sons at Gleann Ailighe, near Maynooth College. His family includes three daughters and four sons.
Mr. Buckley has led a quiet life since his few days in Dublin. He is the brother of Mr. M. J. Buckley, a former Borough Surveyor of Dublin, who lately was appointed a member of the Free State Housing Board.
Mr. Buckley has led a quiet life since his defeat at the last general election, but recently the Government appointed him as inspector to investigate conditions in the Gaeltacht. He has, of course, resigned that appointment.
A special meeting of the Athy District Council convened for the purposes of tendering congratulations of the Council to His Excellency the Governor-General on his appointment was held on Tuesday night, Mr. P. Dooley, Chairman, presiding. Other members present were:— Miss B. Darby, Messrs. Toomey, Carbery, Doran, Mahon and Murphy.
Miss Darby — I wish to propose the following resolution though I don’t know if the wording will meet the wishes of the other members — “That I offer to Domhnall Ua Buachalla my heartiest congratulations, not so much on the fact that he has been appointed to the position of Governor-General, but on the fact that the Fianna Fail Government have such confidence in him and in his faith and loyalty to the Irish nation, that they have selected him as their trusted champion to man the Bearna Boaghal at this critical period of the nation’s history. Well they know, and all who know him know that the nation’s honour could not be in better hands. Honours and emoluments mean nothing to Domhnall Ua Buachalla compared with his duties to the Irish nation. He is a noble and patriotic Irishman who has fought and worked and suffered and lost for his country, and there are very few who can compare with him.”
Chairman — I take great pleasure in seconding that resolution. I have known Domhnall Ua Buachalla since 1916 and 1918. Mr. Mahon and I were the first pioneers of County Kildare along with him from ’25 to ’28 and have been with him canvassing the whole town of Athy during the election. I have never known his equal as a noble and courageous gentleman, therefore I take great pleasure in seconding this resolution.
Mr. Mahon — I never attended a meeting or supported a resolution that gave me as much pleasure as this resolution of congratulation to Domhnall Ua Buachalla. Miss Darby has put in her resolution my own feelings on the matter. Knowing as I do, he never cared for the limelight, but always cared to be in the darkest corner if it were there he could do the best work for the Motherland. How could any of us knowing him well forget that glorious and immortal Easter Sunday morning of 1916 when Domhnall Ua Buachalla on hearing rumours – as we all did – of the Rising in Dublin to strike for Ireland, got on his bicycle and though a married man with a family and business on his shoulders, rode to the city to find if those rumours were true. Finding the Rising had taken place he returned, and getting a handful of splendid men, including our T.D., Tom Harris, marched to Dublin to take part in the fight there. In every fight after that Domhnall Ua Buachalla has always been to the forefront when told that fight was for national and economic independence. I think if even a greater honour than the Governor-General could be conferred upon him he would be worthy of it, and worthy of the trust of the Executive Council and President de Valera. I hope we can wipe out the stain upon us that let down such a man as Domhnall Ua Buachalla at the last election and if we could to place him with his colleagues selected to represent us in An Dail.
Mr. Doran endorsed the remarks, saying President de Valera had made a very wise selection in recommending such a man for the position of Governor-General.
Mr. Carbery, associating himself with the remarks of the other members, added that Kildare should be the proudest county in Ireland at the present moment.
Mr. Murphy also associated himself with the remarks.
Mr. Mahon said he was with Domhnall Ua Buachalla after the election and more or less apologising for their not electing him, he would never forget the remarks he passed. He (Mr. Mahon) knew he felt it, not because it was any loss of dignity, but the words he used showed the admirable spirit of the man. Domhnall Ua Buachalla said to him — “It is one of the casualties of the road that I am not there and my only regret is I am not there when the fighting is to be done.”
Mr. Toomey endorsed all the remarks made and said when coming down that Mr. Malone asked him to apologise for his absence as he could not attend.
Chairman — He is ill, but he is here in spirit at any rate.
Mr. Lawler (Clerk) remarked that Mr. Tierney asked him to apologise for his absence.
The resolution was then declared carried and it was decided that copies be sent to His Excellency the Governor-General, to the Executive Council and to President de Valera.
At a meeting of the Maynooth Labour Party the following resolution was passed — “That we, the members of the Maynooth Labour Party at this our inaugural meeting take this opportunity of offering to our worthy townsman, Domhnall Ua Buachalla, Esq., our hearty congratulations on the honour conferred on him by the Executive Council in selecting him to be Governor-General of the Irish Free State, and we hope His Excellency will be spared to see the ideal he so bravely fought for accomplished.”

On 3 December 1932 the Kildare Observer carried a report on the appointment of Domhnall Ua Buachalla as the new (and last) Governor General of Ireland

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2