Domhnall Ua Buachalla was born in Maynooth, County Kildare on 5 February 1866 and died on 30 October 1963. He was an Irish politician and member of the First Dáil who served as third and final Governor-General of the Irish Free State and later served as a member of the Council of State. His father, Cornelius Buckley, was a native of Mallow, and his mother belonged to the Jacob family of Dublin. The late Cornelius Buckley was a native Irish speaker and all his children took a great interest in the language from an early age. After a brilliant school career with the Jesuits, Mr. Buckley entered business as a general shopkeeper in Maynooth where he quickly established an extensive connection.
His entry into business life marked the beginning of a career that was destined to bring the future Governor-General into the floodlight of Irish history. While still in his teens he mastered the Irish language and then set about to diffuse the knowledge which had been gained. The Gaelic League of the County Kildare found him an indomitable worker in its cause and his services were in constant demand at Irish Ireland functions.
He was the presiding genius at many of Feiseanna and Ceilidhe and his genial presence was always a source of delight and encouragement to the young people.
Mr. Buckley’s activities, however, were by no means confined to the cultural side of the Irish Ireland movement. He was an unflinching supporter of the cause of Irish Independence for which he risked both his life and property.
His first conflict with the military authorities occurred when he was summoned at Kilcock Court for having his name printed in Irish over his shop. When the case came on for hearing Padraic Pearse conducted the defence. Mr. Buckley was fined, but refused to pay. Police raided his shop and seized goods which were put up for public auction. There was a great deal of sympathy for Mr. Buckley amongst the local people and only one man attended the auction. He bought the goods for a small sum and promptly returned them to the owner.
Mr. Buckley established a branch of the Irish Volunteers in Maynooth and drilled in secret at night, keeping in close touch with the leaders in Dublin. Preparations were being made to take part in the 1916 Rising, but owing to the countermanding orders they were taken by surprise. On Easter Monday Mr. Buckley was working in his shop in Maynooth when the first vague news came through from Dublin that the fight for independence had begun. He cycled to the city to learn the facts, and on finding that the fighting was really in progress he returned and informed the other Maynooth Volunteers.
They numbered about twenty in all. Mr. Buckley was the only one who had a rifle, the others were armed mostly with shotguns, and one had a revolver. Before leaving for Dublin they went into Maynooth College and received the blessing of its then President, the Rev. Dr. Hogan. Then they began the historic march to Dublin which was in the throes of the fighting. When they entered the city they first went to Glasnevin near where Volunteers were trying to capture a magazine. In military formation the Maynooth Volunteers marched down the North Circular Road to the Post Office in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
From then until the surrender Mr. Buckley took part in some of the fiercest encounters with the British. He fulfilled with honour the prophecy of Padraic Pearse: “Buckley is a real patriot, and one of the most determined men in Ireland. When we strike our blow for Irish freedom I am certain he will be with us.”
At the end of that struggle Mr. Buckley was sent to Knutsford Jail for some weeks, and from there he was sent to Frongoch Camp in Wales. He was released the following Christmas. Back once more in Maynooth he continued his efforts for Irish with added zeal.
In 1918 Mr. Buckley entered Parliamentary life. He was returned as a Sinn Fein member of Parliament for North Kildare. His victory was regarded as significant, since the defeated Nationalist candidate had represented the constituency for many years.
Mr. Buckley came more or less into the public view when he opposed the acceptance of the Treaty creating the Irish Free State. He was a member of the Dail until 1923, when he was defeated at the general election of that year, but was re-elected as a Fianna Fail member in the general election of 1927. Mr. Buckley was not a prominent member of the Dail in the matter of speech-making, but, being regular in attendance, he was most useful to his party. Most of his speeches in the Dail were delivered in Irish.
The above extract is taken from an article in the The Kildare Observer of Saturday, December 3, 1932 and was first reproduced on http://www.kildare.ie/ehistory/
The Kildare Observer of Saturday, December 3, 1932