As a political agitator, journalist, businessman and politician, Hugh Mahon had a varied and fascinating life. Born in Offaly, he and his family migrated to America in 1869, but returned to Ireland in 1880 after their American dream failed. He was active in the Land League in County Wexford which led to his arrest and imprisonment with Parnell in 1881, and exile to Australia. As a crusading journalist he exposed corruption and became a thorn in the side of the Forrest government in Western Australia during the 1890s. He was elected to the first Commonwealth parliament in 1901 and served in four Labor ministries, rising to Minister for External Affairs during the First World War. He has the distinction of being the only person expelled from the Commonwealth parliament after he criticised British rule in Ireland.
This book, the second part of a two-volume biography of Mahon, covers the period from his election to parliament in 1901 until his death in 1931. It describes his almost 20 years as a backbencher and a minister during which he gained a reputation as one of the brainiest men in parliament as well as one of the most controversial. It provides an insight into his reluctant decision to oppose conscription in 1916 and examines in depth his commitment to Irish self-government and the circumstances of his dramatic expulsion from parliament in 1920. The volume also looks at Mahon’s career as managing director of the Catholic Church Property Insurance Co. and his intervention in Irish politics during the debate over the Anglo-Irish treaty. It is the story of a flawed genius who simultaneously evoked high praise and damning criticism.
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About the author:
Dr Jeff Kildea is an adjunct professor in Irish Studies at the University of New South Wales. In 2014 he held the Keith Cameron Chair of Australian History at University College Dublin. He is the author of Tearing the Fabric: Sectarianism in Australia 1910-1925 (2002); Anzacs and Ireland (2007); Wartime Australians: Billy Hughes (2008), and co-author of To foster an Irish spirit: The Irish National Association of Australasia 1915-2015 (2020).
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