1938 Irish presidential election

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1938 Irish presidential election

31 May 1938
1945 →
  Douglas Hyde - Project Gutenberg eText 19028.jpg
Nominee Douglas Hyde
Party Independent

President before election

New office

Elected President

Douglas Hyde

The 1945 Irish presidential election was the first Irish presidential election, held to fill the new office of President of Ireland.


The office of president was established by Article 12 of the new Constitution of Ireland, which come into force on 29 December 1937. Article 57 of the Constitution provided that the president would enter office not later than 180 days after that date. Until the inauguration of the first president, the powers and functions of the office were carried out by a Presidential Commission consisting of the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court and the Ceann Comhairle.

On 14 April 1938, Minister for Local Government and Public Health Seán T. O'Kelly made an order under section 6 of the Presidential Elections Act 1937 opening nominations, with noon on 4 May as the deadline for nominations, and 31 May set as the date for a poll (if any).[1]

Under Article 12, candidates could be nominated by:

All Irish citizens on the Dáil electoral register were eligible to vote.

Nomination process[edit]

The first candidate to seek a nomination was Alfie Byrne, who had been serving as Lord Mayor of Dublin since 1930, and would continue in that position until 1939.[2]

On 21 April, representatives of the two major parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, met and agreed to nominate Dr Douglas Hyde for the office.[3] The following day, Labour Party leader William Norton expressed his approval in the Dáil of the nomination of Dr Hyde and Alfie Byrne issued a statement ending his nomination campaign.[4]

At the close of nominations, Hyde was the only nominated candidate, with two separate nomination forms received on behalf of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Oireachtas members. Accepting the nominations and his election to office on 4 May, Hyde said, "I accept this office willingly, but with humility. I will do my best to carry out my duties in the future".[5]


1938 Irish presidential election[6]
Candidate Nominated by
Douglas Hyde Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael

Hyde was inaugurated as the first President of Ireland on 25 June 1938.


  1. ^ "Presidential election". The Irish Times. 16 April 1938.
  2. ^ "The Presidency of Eire. Agreed Candidate Question. Lord Mayor appoints Election Agent". The Irish Times. 20 April 1938.
  3. ^ "Dr. Douglas Hyde chosen for Presidency of Eire. Agreed Candidate of Two Parties". The Irish Times. 22 April 1938.
  4. ^ "Lord Mayor and the Presidency. Will not now seek nomination". The Irish Times. 23 April 1938.
  5. ^ "Eire's First President. Dr Douglas Hyde Elected". The Irish Times. 5 May 1938.
  6. ^ "Presidential Elections 1938–2011" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. p. 20. Retrieved 15 July 2018.