Lenihan, Brian

Identity area

Type of entity

Person

Authorized form of name

Lenihan, Brian

Parallel form(s) of name

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules

Other form(s) of name

  • Lenihan Senior, Brian
  • Lenihan, Brian Joseph

Identifiers for corporate bodies

Description area

Dates of existence

1930–1995

History

Brian Joseph Lenihan, politician and government minister, was born 17 November 1930 at Dundalk,. Louth, eldest among two sons and two daughters of Patrick James Lenihan, teacher, civil servant, businessman, and politician, and Ann Lenihan (née Scanlon). Schooled under the Marist brothers at St Mary's college, Athlone, Lenihan obtained a BA in economics from UCD (1951), and studied law at the Kings’ Inns, Dublin (1949–52). After unsuccessfully contesting Longford–Westmeath for Fianna Fáil in the 1954 general election, he switched to the Roscommon constituency, where he built a base by service on the county council and the vocational education committee (both 1955–61). Succeeding his father on the Fianna Fáil national executive, he was among the youthful activists who assisted Seán Lemass in a thoroughgoing reform of the party's organisation. After serving on the industrial and commercial panel in Seanad Éireann (1957–61), he was elected on his third attempt to Dáil Éireann, and commenced a twelve-year tenure (Roscommon (1961–9), Roscommon–Leitrim (1969–73)). After Donogh O'Malley's sudden death (March 1968), Lenihan succeeded him as Minister for Education (1968–9), and later became Minister for Transport and Power (1969–73). Losing his dáil seat amid Fianna Fáil's defeat in the 1973 general election, Lenihan served as Fianna Fáil leader in the seanad (1973–7), and was campaign manager for Erskine Childers (qv) (1905–74) during the latter's successful candidacy in the 1973 presidential election. An appointed member of the European parliament (1973–7), he led the Fianna Fáil delegation, and helped forge the party's lasting alliance with the French Gaullists. Having moved residence in 1971 from the Athlone area to 24 Parkview, Castleknock, Co. Dublin, he served on Dublin county council (1974–7). Topping the poll in the 1977 general election, he commenced an eighteen-year tenure as TD for Dublin County West (1977–81) and Dublin West (1981–95). As minister for agriculture in Haughey's second government (March–December 1982), Lenihan exercised his considerable negotiating skills, both within European structures, and in developing new markets for Irish produce, especially in the Middle East. On Fianna Fáil's return to power as a minority government in March 1987, Lenihan became tánaiste and minister for foreign affairs (1987–9). Suffering a serious decline in health from December 1987, Lenihan was diagnosed with diabetes and a grave liver condition, necessitating several spells in hospital. In May 1989 he had a successful liver transplant operation at the prestigious Mayo clinic, Minnesota, USA. During his convalescence in Minnesota, Lenihan contested in absentia the June 1989 general election, topping the poll over quota with 11,109 first-preference votes. Returning to Dublin for the first sitting of the new dáil, he was prominent in the external negotiations and internal party debate that resulted in formation of the Fianna Fáil–Progressive Democrats coalition government, being especially effective in persuading the party grassroots to accept the idea of coalition. Remaining tánaiste, but moved to the less demanding portfolio of minister for defence (1989–90). Throughout the coalition's tenure he was chairman of the oireachtas joint committee on foreign affairs (May 1993–January 1995), and occasionally acted behind the scenes to facilitate the Northern Ireland peace process. Five weeks after hospitalisation with an acute illness, he died 1 November 1995 in the Mater Misericordiae hospital, Dublin, and was buried in Cornanagh cemetery, Athlone.

By Lawrence William White, (2009) Dictionary of Irish Biography DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.004788.v1

Places

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

27th Dáil: 1992 - 1995

26th Dáil:1989 - 1992
Minister for Defence (1989 - 1990)
Tánaiste (1989 - 1990)
Minister for Foreign Affairs (1989 - 1989)

25th Dáil: 1987 - 1989
Minister for Foreign Affairs (1987 - 1989)
Tánaiste (1987 - 1989)

24th Dáil: 1982 - 1987

23rd Dáil: 1982 - 1982
Minister for Agriculture (1982 - 1982)

22nd Dáil: 1981 - 1982

21st Dáil: 1977 - 1981
Minister for Foreign Affairs (1979 - 1981)
Minister for Fisheries and Forestry (1978 - 1979)
Minister for Fisheries (1977 - 1978)

13th Seanad: 1973 - 1977
Industrial and Commercial Panel

19th Dáil: 1969 - 1973
Minister for Foreign Affairs (1973 - 1973)
Minister for Transport and Power (1969 - 1973)

18th Dáil: 1965 - 1969
Minister for Education (1968 - 1969)
Minister for Justice (1965 - 1968)

17th Dáil: 1961 - 1965
Minister for Justice (1964 - 1965)

9th Seanad: 1957 - 1961
Industrial and Commercial Panel

Mandates/sources of authority

Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Access points area

Subject access points

Place access points

Occupations

Control area

Authority record identifier

0000020

Institution identifier

IE DCUA

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR (CPF)

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

2022-04-28

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

Dictionary of Irish Biography (2009) DOI: https://doi.org/10.3318/dib.004788.v1

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