Lord Mayor Councillor Kieran McCarthy launched the book which was co-written by Aodh Quinlivan and John Ger O’Riordan.

French was first amongst us

A new book launched recently tells the story of Seán French, Cork’s longest-serving, twelve-term Lord Mayor.

‘First Citizen’ was launched in Cork City Hall on Tuesday 14 November by Lord Mayor, Councillor Kieran McCarthy and was co-written by Aodh Quinlivan and John Ger O’Riordan.

Seán French came to prominence during a period of revolutionary change and turmoil, earning a deserved reputation as an eloquent, intelligent and passionate man who possessed an unyielding fidelity to principle.

His extraordinary political life unfolded against a backdrop of the War of Independence, the Burning of Cork, the Civil War and the dissolution of Cork Corporation. French was also a founding member of Fianna Fáil and he was twice elected to Dáil Éireann.

At a personal level, Seán French was quiet, studious, and unassuming, occasionally austere and even dour. However, when in the company of family and friends at social occasions, he came alive and could be gregarious and charming, often demonstrating a wicked sense of humour. He took a keen interest in sport, especially rugby, rowing and cricket.

Undoubtedly, Seán French was an outstanding figure in public life who was held in high esteem by all. His contributions in the Dáil, Cork Corporation, the Harbour Board and numerous other public bodies and charities of which he was a member, were consistently eloquent, intelligent and passionate.

A keynote of his character was his straightforwardness, integrity and unyielding fidelity to principle.

The office and status of lord nayor lives on in Cork city and many great men and women have held the position, but Seán French has the unique distinction of being the longest-serving First Citizen. For that alone, he warrants a prominent place in the rich history of Cork, the city he loved and served unconditionally throughout his life.

‘First Citizen’ forms part of Cork City Council’s 1920-1923 Commemoration Programme and is published by Cork City Libraries. It is available in Waterstone’s and Vibes and Scribes.