Kerry's Political Dynasties

Owen O'Shea
Heirs to the Kingdom

An account of political dynasties in Kerry, focusing on a number of families who have successfully held political power, both locally and in the national parliament, with first-hand interviews with different generations within the political families in power and out.

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320 pages
196x130 mm
Category History, Politics

The political dynasty is as well-established tradition in Ireland, but most particularly in Kerry, where nearly all politicians can trace their political lineage back several generations -- with some unbroken representation extending back to the foundation of the state!

O'Shea explores the grip on power these families have, and how they exclude new entrants to the political system; the pressures on family members to continue the traditions of their forefathers; the intense local rivalries and the impact of these families on the national political scene.

Politics does not get any fiercer than in Kerry, and this original and well-researched book throws a light on how Irish public respresentatives get and keep hold of power and incluence.

Foreword by Michael O’Regan 11 Preface 19 1. A Kingdom of dynasties 27 2. A centuries-old tradition 39 3. What’s in a name? 55 4. Getting the kids to run 69 5. Keeping it in the family 88 6. By-elections and the sympathy vote 103 7. Using the Council incubator 118 8. Putting the dynasty to work 138 9. When dynasties clash 155 10. Defending the dynasty from attack 173 11. When the well runs dry 187 12. Exporting the dynasty 203 13. Obligations that outlive them 215 14. Comfort in what you know 230 Endnotes 245 Appendices 269 Bibliography 291 Index 297

Owen O'Shea writes a weekly political column in the Kerry's Eye newspaper. He worked in the Labour Party Press Office with three party leaders for five years. He was a candidate at the local elections in 2004 and worked behind the scenes on a number of election campaigns nationally and in Kerry. A graduate of UCD, he lives in Milltown, County Kerry.

'He (Pat Carey) complimented the Kerry's Eye journalist (Owen O'Shea) for "getting into the kitchens" of those political families on which the book is centred. Having now read the book, he was surprised to find that there were things included that even he

Kerry's Eye

'Heirs to the Kingdom has been hailed nationally as an in-depth, comprehensive, humorous and passionate insight into the family dynasties that carved out and held niches among Kerry’s political elite over generations.'

Kerry's Eye

'full of little gems of information'

Newstalk: Tom Dunne Show

...by all accounts, it's a pocket guide to the dynastic politics in both constituencies - McEllistrim, Spring, Ferris, O'Connor-Scarteen, Healy-Rae and other dynasties that would be little-known outside the county bounds. The one bit I flicked through in


'this original and well-researched book throws a light on how Irish public representatives get and keep hold of their power'

Killarney Advertiser

'Heirs to the Kingdom is full of insights into the vice-like grip that a few families have over politics in the county (or the entire country, depending on how you look at it).

Irish Times

'a timely political read'

Kerry's Eye

'O’Shea illustrates the accuracy of the Tip O’Neill dictum that all politics is local.'

The Irish Times

'The author outlines how dynastic politics, and the inevitable play for the sympathy vote, was a particularly prominent feature of by-elections in the past.'

The Irish Times

'O’Shea’s book provides a fascinating insight into dynastic politics in that most political of counties.'

The Irish Times

'Author Owen O’Shea succeeds in showing why political culture and the electoral system contribute to the creation of political dynasties in Kerry.'

Evening Echo

'This is an interesting study of how Irish politics in general is run and more so of how the dynastic dynamic operates in Kerry.'

Books Ireand

'The book illuminates the extraordinary grip a few families have maintained on politics in Kerry.'

Killarney Adviser

'one of the most tightly-written and informative books on Irish politics to appear in some time. This is high-quality political analysis and, in an era when it is being rapidly overhauled, a book invaluable for those who want to know what makes the Irish


''O'Shea's text is diverse in content...providing arguably the first comprehensive account of the divisive split in Labour in Kerry South in the early 1990s ... An eye-opening report of the inside story of the long-standing battles between a clutch of fam

Irish Men’s Tatler
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