Sir James Michael Gallagher (1860-1925) Lord Mayor of Dublin 1915-17
James Michael Gallagher was born in 1860, the eldest son of Patrick Gallagher, of Aghavanny, Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim. He was married to Annie, the only daughter of John O’Brien, of William Street, Limerick.
James Gallagher moved to Dublin as a young man and by 1889 he had opened a business as a cigar importer, operating from 1a Harcourt Street. By 1900, this had expanded to include premises at 19 Charlotte Street and 149 Lower Baggot Street. A fourth shop was opened in Dame Street in 1905 and ultimately the business became so prosperous that in 1918 Gallagher was able to purchase a substantial residence at 22 Charleston Road, Ranelagh, which was his home for the rest of his life.
Gallagher was first elected to Dublin City Council on 15 January 1908 as a councillor for the Fitzwilliam Ward, which he continued to represent until 1924. During his time on the Council, he served on the following committees: Waterworks (1908-9); Cleansing (1910-11); Estates and Finance (1912-13); Improvements (1914-15); Lighting (1916-17); Markets (1918-19); Public Health (1920-4). He also served on the Schools Attendance Committee for the South-East Division of the city and on the board of the Dublin Orthopaedic Hospital.
Gallagher was elected for two consecutive terms of office as Lord Mayor of Dublin, for 1915-16 and 1916-17, but he was not the City Council’s first choice for the post. On 23 January 1915, Alderman John Clancy was elected as Lord Mayor but on his way home from the Council meeting in City Hall, he was caught in a downpour of rain from which he developed pneumonia and died before he was invested. Gallagher was elected to replace him on 5 February 1915. This was a turbulent period in Irish history, with the Great War ongoing in Europe and later the Easter Rising of 1916. Following the Rising, Gallagher was given authority to travel to London with a group of officials and councillors to discuss the details of the Dublin (Destroyed Areas) Reconstruction Bill which was intended to assist in the re-building of the city.
At the quarterly meeting of the City Council in October 1916 Lord Mayor Gallagher made a lengthy statement defending the Corporation’s management of the city in reference to criticisms of the administration by The Irish Times. The entire speech is recorded in the Minute Book, an unusual occurrence in City Council history.
Gallagher’s leadership helped Dublin to come through this period of unprecedented change. He was appointed as a justice of the peace in 1913 and was knighted in 1917, at the conclusion of his second term as Lord Mayor. Dublin City Council was suspended by the government of the Irish Free State in May 1924, bringing Gallagher’s career in municipal affairs to an end. He died in 1925.
With the kind permission of
Dr. Mary Clark
Dublin City Archives
138-144 Pearse Street
© Dublin Corporation 2001