Pierce Beasley or Piaras Béaslaí as he was better-known was born in Liverpool in 1881. His father, also Pierce was a native of Aghadoe, Killarney and was the editor of the Catholic Times newspaper in England. The family moved to Dublin in 1906 and he worked as a journalist with many newspapers including the Irish Independent and the Freeman’s Journal. Béaslaí was active in the Gaelic League and the promotion of the Irish language, founding an Irish-speaking group, An Fáinne. An acquaintance of Michael Collins, he joined the IRB and the Irish Volunteers. He is credited in some sources as having given the name Óglaigh na hÉireann to the Volunteers. In 1913, he joined the provisional committee of the Irish Volunteers and edited the organisation’s newspaper. He rose to the rank of vice-commandant of the 1st Battalion of the Dublin Brigade.


Involvement in the Volunteers cost him his job at the Irish Independent. On hearing of a decision of Eoin MacNeill to cancel the mobilisation of Volunteers on Easter Sunday 1916, Beaslaí is reported to have declared ‘MacNeill has ruined everything. I feel like going away to cry.’During Easter Week, he was involved in combat in city centre locations such as Mary Street and North King Street. He was arrested and sentenced to penal servitude for three years. Transferred to Portland and Lewes jails, he was released in June 1917.

Béaslaí was elected a Sinn Féin MP for East Kerry at the general election in 1918 and like his fellow party members refused to take up his seat at Westminster, joining instead the first Dáil in January 1919. He was the only one of the four TDs elected from Kerry to the first Dáil to be present at its first sitting; the other three – Austin Stack, James Crowley and Fionán Lynch – were all in prison at the time. He was responsible for translating the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil into Irish and read it aloud at its first meeting.

Béaslaí was elected in 1921 for Kerry-Limerick West and again in 1922 as a pro-Treaty candidate. He did not contest the 1923 election. He became a major general in the Free State Army and was Head of Press Censorship but he left the army in 1924. Béaslaí was a renowned as a prolific poet, novelist and author. Among his publications was Michael Collins and the Making of a New Ireland (1926). Beaslaí continued to pursue a literary career and contributed columns to a number of national newspapers in the 1950s. He died in 1965.

From ‘Kerry 1916: Histories and Legacies of the Easter Rising – A Centenary Record’