Open main menu

Thomas Derrig (Irish: Tomás Ó Deirg; 26 November 1897 – 19 November 1956) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician.[1]

Thomas Derrig
Thomas Derrig.JPG
Minister for Lands
In office
13 June 1951 – 2 June 1954
Preceded byJoseph Blowick
Succeeded byJoseph Blowick
In office
8 September 1939 – 2 July 1943
Preceded byGerald Boland
Succeeded bySeán Moylan
Minister for Education
In office
18 June 1940 – 18 February 1948
Preceded byÉamon de Valera
Succeeded byRichard Mulcahy
In office
9 March 1932 – 8 September 1939
Preceded byJohn M. O'Sullivan
Succeeded bySeán T. O'Kelly
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
In office
8 September 1939 – 27 September 1939
Preceded byOscar Traynor
Succeeded byPatrick Little
Personal details
Born(1897-11-26)26 November 1897
Westport, County Mayo, Ireland
Died19 November 1956(1956-11-19) (aged 58)
Dublin, Ireland
Political partyFianna Fáil
Spouse(s)Sinéad Derrig
Alma materUniversity College Galway
Military service
Branch/serviceIrish Republican Army
Anti-Treaty IRA
Battles/warsIrish War of Independence
Irish Civil War

Early life and careerEdit

Derrig was born on 26 November 1897, in Westport, County Mayo. He was educated locally and at University College Galway. During his time in college he organised a corps of the Irish Volunteers. After the 1916 Easter Rising he was arrested and imprisoned, and sent to the prisons of Woking, Wormwood Scrubs and Frongoch internment camp. He was arrested in 1918 and was accused of attempting to disarm a soldier. He was sentenced to five months imprisonment by a court in Belfast. When he was released, he supported Joseph MacBride at the 1918 Irish general election. After his release, he graduated from college and became headmaster in a technical college in Mayo.[2]

During the Irish War of Independence he was the commander of the Westport Brigade of the Irish Republican Army before being captured and interned at the Curragh Camp. While there he was elected a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for Mayo North and West.[3]

Derrig took the Republican/Anti-treaty side during the Irish Civil War. During the Civil War, he was an auxiliary assistant to Liam Lynch. He was later captured by the Irish Free State army. While in custody of the Criminal Investigation Department he was severely injured, having an eye shot out by CID detectives.

Political careerEdit

At the June 1927 general election he was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil TD for Carlow–Kilkenny. In Éamon de Valera's first government in 1932 Derrig was appointed Minister for Education. Derrig initiated a review of industrial and reformatory schools and the rules under the Children Act 1908, resulting in the critical 1936 Cussen Report, which he shelved. His lack of action was noted in 2009 when the Ryan Report examined the subsequent management of these "residential institutions"; Derrig was the first minister to seek a report that could have resulted in much-needed reforms. It has been suggested that he did not want to follow British law reforms in the 1920s and 1930s because of his strong anti-British views, and that Irish children had suffered needlessly as a result.[4]

From 1939 to 1943 he served as Minister for Lands. He was re-appointed to Education in 1943 until 1948. During this period a bitter teachers' strike, involving the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), took place, lasting from 20 March to 30 October. Between 1951 and 1954 he became Minister for Lands again.

Thomas Derrig died in Dublin on 19 November 1956, seven days before his 59th birthday.


  1. ^ "Thomas Derrig". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 7 January 2008.
  2. ^ Breathnach, Diarmuid; Ní Mhurchú, Máire. "Ó DEIRG, Tomás (1897–1956)". (in Irish). Retrieved 5 September 2019.
  3. ^ "Thomas Derrig". Retrieved 7 July 2009.
  4. ^ Arnold, Bruce, The Irish Gulag, (Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 2009), page 41. ISBN 978-0-7171-4614-7

External linksEdit

  • Obituary, Connaught Telegraph, 24 November 1956 (Mayo County Library)
Political offices
Preceded by
John M. O'Sullivan
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Seán T. O'Kelly
Preceded by
Oscar Traynor
Minister for Posts and Telegraphs
Succeeded by
Patrick Little
Preceded by
Gerald Boland
Minister for Lands
Succeeded by
Seán Moylan
Preceded by
Éamon de Valera
Minister for Education
Succeeded by
Richard Mulcahy
Preceded by
Joseph Blowick
Minister for Lands
Succeeded by
Joseph Blowick