W T Cosgrave was an Irish statesman who served as first President of the Executive Council (Taoiseach) of the Irish Free State. He was elected chairman of the provisional government when Michael Collins became commander in chief of the army in July 1922. When Arthur Griffith died suddenly on August 12th 1922, Cosgrave became President of the Dáil. He served as President of the Executive Council of Ireland from 1922 to 1932. Liam Cosgrave, son of W T Cosgrave served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 1972 to 1977.
William Thomas Cosgrave was born at 174 James’s Street, Dublin on June 6th 1880. He was educated at the Christian Brothers School on the Malahide Road in Dublin and later joined his father’s business. He became politically active in the early 1900’s and served as a councillor on Dublin Corporation from 1909 to 1922. Cosgrave joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and played an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916, serving as one of Éamonn Ceant’s officers at the South Dublin Union.
Following the Rising W T Cosgrave was sentenced to death. This was later commuted to penal servitude for life and he was interned in Fongoch prison camp in Wales. He was elected MP for Kilkenny City in the 1917 by-election though he was in prison in Wales at the time. He was elected MP for Kilkenny North in the general election of 1918.
Dáil Éireann voted to approve the Anglo-Irish Treaty in January 1922. The Irish Free State came into being on December 6th 1922 and W T Cosgrave became the first prime minister, called President of the Executive Council. His greatest achievement was to establish a stable democratic government in Ireland. He lost office following the general election of 1932 but continued to lead his party in opposition until 1944.
William Thomas Cosgrave died aged 85 in the year 1965 On This Day.
W T Cosgrave (holding furled umbrella) visiting the sugar beet processing factory at Strawhall, County Carlow, October 1926.
Tour of Inspection by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1926-10-01 00:00:00
John Devoy arriving at government buildings to meet President Cosgrave by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1924-07-28 12:23:04