Famous Roscommon
and Leitrim People

Roscommon is proud of the fact that it was the birth place of
Ireland's first President
Dr Douglas Hyde,

Born in Castlerea in 1860, son to a rector who served the town of Castlerea,
Douglas Hyde went onto become a leading figure in the nationalist movement in Ireland.
 

Albert Reynolds

Born November 1932, Rooskey, County Roscommon
Reynolds was educated at Summerhill College in County Sligo and entered business, working for a shipping firm. He built up a chain of music halls during the 1960s and eventually purchased a newspaper in the county of Longford. A member of the Fianna Fáil party, he first entered the Dáil (parliament) in 1977 as member for Longford and became a minister in Charles Haughey's cabinet of 1979-81. Reynolds was subsequently minister of industry and commerce (1987-88) and finance minister (1988-91) in Haughey's third and fourth cabinets. He broke with Haughey in late 1991, and, when the latter was forced to resign his leadership posts in February 1992, Reynolds succeeded him as head of Fianna Fáil and as prime minister.

President Mary McAleese

Born Mary Leneghan, Belfast, 27 June 1951. Her father is from Croghan, Co. Roscommon
and her mother is from Maghera, Co Derry.
Percy French

William Percy French was at various times singer, composer, poet, engineer, humorist, journalist and painter.  He is particularly famous as the author of many well know Irish songs and for his career as an entertainer.  He was born on May 1st 1854 at Cloonyquin, Co. Roscommon,
While performing in Glasgow in 1920 Percy French became ill and he died a few days later at the home of his cousin at Formby, Lancashire

Maureen O'Sullivan: Tarzan's Mate
1911-1998 

Maureen O'Sullivan, forever remembered as Tarzan's mate in six Tarzan pictures with Johnny Weissmuller, died on Monday evening, June 23, 1998. According to her daughter, Stephanie Farrow of New York, her mother died of old age at her home in Phoenix, Arizona. Ms. O'Sullivan is also survived by her second husband James E. Cushing, daughter Mia Farrow, two additional daughters and two sons. Bob Hope spoke for all of us when he said, "The world lost a lovely leading lady."

Her plum role, of course, was that of Jane, the beautiful heroine of the Tarzan movies of the 1930s,

She was born Maureen Paula O'Sullivan on May 17, 1911 in Boyle, County Roscommon, in Ireland and schooled at the Convent of the Sacred Heart at Roehampton, England (near London). One of the Irish colleen's childhood classmates was Vivien Leigh, who also would eventually pursue a life on the stage and in films. After advanced education in Paris, Maureen returned to her family in Ireland, with hardly a thought in her head towards an acting career.

Like all the great stars that passed before her, including her friend and co-star Johnny Weissmuller, Maureen O'Sullivan will be greatly missed by Tarzan fans and movie buffs. She was a classy lady, who almost always played kind, gentle women on the silver screen. Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author who created the character of Tarzan, called Maureen "my perfect Jane." Leave it to wordsmith Burroughs to so wonderfully describe a beautiful lady and marvelous actress... "Perfect." She thrilled us as Tarzan's Jane and left the men in the audience wishing they were Tarzan and the girls wishing they were Jane, the brave lass who shared Tarzan's jungle world. Thank you, Maureen. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

                      Famous Leitrim-born people from the past include
                                           Sean MacDiarmada,

Born in  Kiltyclogher Prominent Member of theIrish Republican Brotherhood,
Signatory to the Proclamation of the Republic he was executed for his part in the
   Easter Rising  of 1916


                                 Patrick McGoohan -
                                       a short biography (Originally written by Roger Langley)

In the 1920's Thomas McGoohan, an Irish farmer, married Rose Fitzpatrick. Together they emigrated to America looking for work, leaving the family farm behind in County Leitrim.

At 4.31 am, on 19th March, 1928, Patrick Joseph McGoohan was born, in Astoria, Long Island, New York. His parents did not settle in the new country for long. They returned to their farm in Ireland. Here Patrick spent 7 years of childhood, with a strong Catholic upbringing.
The chairman of ATV, Lew Grade was casting for the lead role in a new action-adventure series, consisting of half-hour episodes. McGoohan agreed, with misgivings, to anchor his identity to a long-running television show - Danger Man.

His role as 'John Drake', the star was causing concern to the production company. He changed the intended character of the secret agent refusing to portray him as a violent man, declining bedroom scenes and objected to using a gun. Nevertheless, the series was sold to various countries and met with general success and popular approval.

On the strength of his success with Danger Man, McGoohan was easily able to persuade Lew Grade to finance the next project. The Prisoner became the most costly television production for its time.

Now a grandfather, McGoohan felt comfortable as the husband of a busy real-estate-agent wife. Happy writing poetry at home, or doing the housework, he took acting roles on television when it suited him. A trio of such appearances include 'Three Sovereigns For Sarah', 'Of Pure Blood', and 'Murder She Wrote'. McGoohan has one of the most enduring of show business marriages . His face and artistic style will hopefully entertain us for many years to come.

                                   James Cagney


James Cagney was born James Francis Cagney, Jr. on July, 17, 1899. He started his life as a sick infant. He was born just above his father's saloon at the corner of Avenue D and Eighth Street on New York City's lower East Side. This area was called the "gas house district," and was on the southern border of what was known as "Hell's Kitchen." He was the second of five children.
He was named after his father, James Francis Cagney, who was descended from the O'Caignes of
County Leitrim.
It was Cagney's mother, Carolyn Nelson (Cagney) who was the main influence in his young life. Carolyn Cagney was half-Irish, half-Norwegian. Her mother was Irish, born in County Leitrim.
 
 

Tony Doyle


Tony Doyle, who played Brian Quigley in Ballykissangel died suddenly on January 28th, 2000 aged 58.
He was born to James and Nora Doyle in Ballyfarnan, in north Roscommon, the youngest of four children. His father was a Garda sergeant, and the family moved when he was re-stationed to Frenchpark
Doyle, was a stalwart of the Irish entertainment industry, playing Father Sheehy in long-running soap opera ``The Riordans.''
In recent years, his performances in the television series Amongst Women and Bally kissangel, and the films A Love Divided and I Went Down, defined him in the public mind as the epitome of the Irish
father figure.

JOHN LEYDON
(1895 - 1979) public servant
Born 17th Jan 1895,
Arigna, County Roscommon


Born on a small farm; educated at St Mel’s, Longford, and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He left Maynooth after two years, deciding that he had no vocation.

He joined the British civil service in London in 1915 and came to Dublin in 1923 to help establish the civil service of the Irish Free State. His work in the Department of Finance in settling claims for compensation for damage caused before the Treaty and during the Civil War marked him out for advancement.

In 1932 he declined the secretaryship of the Department of Industry and Commerce offered by the outgoing Cosgrave government. The offer was renewed by Seán Lemass when he took office, and Leydon accepted. Their dynamic partnership generated the industrial expansion of the '30s and the establishment of state companies such as Aer Lingus and Bord na Móna.

On the outbreak of the Second World War he was put in charge of the Department of Supplies, again with Lemass as minister, and their energies and ability were applied with remarkable success to maintaining essential supplies and services. He secured the formation of Irish Shipping and then the Insurance Corporation of Ireland, to counter the excessive rates charged by London marine insurers. Both enterprises flourished for forty years. Lemass described him as the ablest man he had ever met.

He retired from the civil service in 1955 and became director and later chairman of the National Bank. Distinctions included Knight Commander of St Gregory the Great and LLD (University of Dublin). He died on 2 August 1979, survived by a daughter.

Source: A Dictionary of Irish Biography, Henry Boylan (ed.), Gill & Macmillan, Dublin, 1998.
 
 

Roderic O Connor
Roderic O'Connor was born in Milton County Roscommon in 1860. He was an artist and outstanding examples of his work can be seen in the Hugh Lane Gallery and the National Art Gallery. He died in 1940.
 
PASCHAL MOONEY
Born Dublin October 1947. Married to Sheila Baldrey, three sons, two daughters. Educated Presentation Bros, Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim; Carrick-on-Shannon Vocational College; Camden Institute London. Public Representative, Journalist, Broadcaster and Businessman. Senator since 1987.
Paschal Mooney is another Leitrim export who found his way on to the national airwaves during 2FM's early days, when he held court nightly with his Keep It Country broadcasts. He's now graduated to the headier locale of the Senate where he can hold forth just as fluently and as flaithiúthlachly as he did back in the late '70s and early '80s
Paschal Mooney from Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim joined RTÉ in 1975 as a contributor/researcher to “Country Music Time.” He also presented “Keep it Country” on 2FM in 1979.
Between 1977-1983 he worked as a sub-editor with TV Sport and was a member of the Radio 1 team covering the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Since then he has researched, scripted and presented several feature programmes for Radio 1 including a 2-hour programme via satellite from Nashville, Tennessee.
He has also presented two series on the lives of country music stars such as Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and Charlie Pride called “Great American Heroes” (1990) and “Country Lives” (1999).
In sport he has covered local, regional and national sports events for RTÉ Radio 1 and BBC Northern Ireland.
 
Charlie McGettigan
On the music scene, Charlie McGettigan, co-winner of the Eurovision Song Contest in 1994, is an adopted Drumshanbo man.
McGettigan moved to Drumshanbo when working for the ESB some 28 years ago, and despite plans to move on shortly after, is now firmly ensconced in the heart of the village.

Drumshanbo Traditional Music Group

 Mick Woods (flute)
Camillus Kehoe (acoustic guitar) Kevin Dowler (button accordion)
Maureen Doran (fiddle) Orla Daly (harp) Eamonn Daly (bodhran)
and Paul Gurney (guitar)