John O'Dowd - Sligo Poets

Go to content

Main menu:

John O'Dowd

John O'Dowd (13 February 1856–26 October 1937) was Irish Nationalist MP for North Sligo from March to September 1900, and for South Sligo, 1900-18.

He was born in Tubbercurry, County Sligo. His parents were John and Catherine O'Dowd. At an early age he emigrated to the United States and settled in Albany, New York where he is said to have worked by day and attended school in the evening.

He returned in the later 1870s to Bunninadden, Sligo, where he became a farmer and merchant and lived for the rest of his life.

On his return in 1878 he became very active in the Land League and in the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was imprisoned in Sligo Jail and in Dundalk Jail in 1881-82.

He was active in the early development of the United Irish League which helped reunite the Irish Party which had been split since the Parnell controversy.

He served on the Tubbercurry Board of Guardians and was elected Chairman of that Body from 1888 to 1898. In February 1900 he was unanimously selected to fill a vacancy in the North Sligo constituency.

1900 he was unanimously chosen as Nationalist candidate for his own South Sligo constituency at the general election and was returned unopposed. At subsequent elections he was returned unopposed until 1918 when he was defeated by the Sinn Fein candidate Alex McCabe.

He became vice-chairman of the first Sligo County Council in 1899 and after the death of P.A. McHugh was elected chairman. He held that position until 1920.

He was a regular contributor or verse to T.D. Sullivan's Weekly News, The Shamrock, The Nation and the Sligo Champion under the pseudonym of 'Adonis' or 'A Sligo Suspect'. In 1888 Gill, Dublin, published a book of his verse entitled Lays of South Sligo; a few wildflowers of National Poetry.

His grave is in Cloonameehan cemetary, Bunninadden, County Sligo.

"His devoted and unselfish service for the welfare of the people he represented in public life for almost half a century has few parallels in the annals of Sligo." Worthies of Sligo, John McTernan (Sligo, 1998)

Back to content | Back to main menu