ONSIDE NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR 2017 – Shortlisted
Alfie Byrne was that rarest of things: a genuinely popular politician, and a genuine independent. He is still a figure of legend in Dublin, where he was elected Lord Mayor ten times. He was also a TD and a Senator; and only a backroom deal prevented him from becoming the first President of Ireland in 1938. Rising from inner city Dublin to become known as the ‘Lord Mayor of Ireland’, he was a truly remarkable figure. And yet there has never been a biography of Alfie Byrne – until now.
Trevor White’s sparkling book tells the story of a man of many parts and contradictions. He was an urbane man of the world who left school at thirteen. He was a teetotal publican. He was a Parnellite who opposed violence, but he was sympathetic to the Easter rebels. His politics were fundamentally conservative, but he was deeply devoted to the poor of his native city.
This is the story of an energetic young man who offered to lead his community and refused to stop governing for forty years. His ambition and charm won admirers in the great capitals of the world – and in the tenements of Ireland’s capital. At his best, he represented and encouraged a broader understanding of what it means to be Irish. And, through it all, he was a great personality, an embodiment of all that is best about Dublin.