The Redmonds and Waterford
A political dynasty 1891–1952
This book is the first comprehensive history of the Redmond political dynasty, its connections to Waterford and its contribution to national and local politics. For sixty years the Redmonds, John, his son William Archer and his daughter-in-law Bridget, dominated the politics of Waterford City. From 1891 to 1922, a Redmond represented Waterford at Westminster and, from 1923 until the death of Bridget Redmond in 1952, in Leinster House. John Redmond forged a bond with the people of Waterford, especially the workers there, a bond which transferred to William and to Bridget. While the life and political career of John Redmond have been the subject of many fine studies, nothing has been written about the significant contributions made to Irish public life by William and by Bridget.
In November 1891, John Redmond was looking at the possible end of his political career. He had resigned his parliamentary seat in Wexford to fight Parnell’s old seat in Cork and had been decisively beaten in the by-election. He was saved from political obscurity by his triumph in a bitter electoral struggle in Waterford city against no less an opponent than Michael Davitt. He retained that seat and the loyalty of the people in Waterford until his death in 1918. Against the rising tide of Sinn Féin, his son William held the seat in a by-election in March 1918 and again in the General Election in December that year. That victory was the only one won by the Irish Parliamentary Party in the South of Ireland – a testimony to the enduring bond between the Redmonds and Waterford. Elected to Dáil Éireann in 1923 he formed and led the ill-fated National League in 1926 and after the demise of that party he joined Cumann na nGaedheal. After his sudden death in 1932 he was succeeded by his widow, Bridget. Her election was noteworthy at a time when the selection of the widow as a candidate was not the almost automatic choice it later became. For almost twenty years she worked tirelessly for her constituents and also played a role on the national stage in Dáil Éireann.
This wide-ranging study offers a new insight into the political career of John Redmond and for the first time tells the story of William and Bridget Redmond.
Pat McCarthy, a native of Waterford city, holds a PhD and an MBA from UCD and is the author of The Irish Revolution, 1912–23: Waterford (2016) and has published extensively in the Irish Sword and Decies.