1961 Irish General Election
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1961 Irish General Election

1961 Irish general election

← 1957 4 October 1961 1965 →

143 of 144 seats in Dáil Éireann
73 seats needed for a majority
Turnout70.6% Decrease 0.7pp
  First party Second party Third party
  Seán Lemass, 1966.jpg James Dillon circa 1930s.jpg Brendan Corish 1949.png
Leader Seán Lemass James Dillon Brendan Corish
Party Fianna Fáil Fine Gael Labour
Leader since 22 June 1959 21 March 1959 2 March 1960
Leader's seat Dublin South-Central Monaghan Wexford
Last election 78 seats, 48.3% 40 seats, 26.6% 12 seats, 9.1%
Seats before 77 41 11
Seats won 70 47 16
Seat change Decrease7 Increase6 Increase4
Percentage 43.8% 32.0% 11.6%
Swing Decrease4.5% Increase5.4% Increase2.5%

  Fourth party Fifth party Sixth party
Seán MacBride circa 1947.jpg
Leader Joseph Blowick Noël Browne Seán MacBride
Party Clann na Talmhan National Progressive Democrats Clann na Poblachta
Leader since 5 September 1944 23 July 1958 21 January 1946
Leader's seat Mayo South Dublin South-East N/A
Last election 3 seats, 2.4% N/A 1 seat, 1.7%
Seats before 3 2 1
Seats won 2 2 1
Seat change Decrease1 Steady 0 Steady 0
Percentage 1.5% 1.0% 1.1%
Swing Decrease0.9% Increase1.0% Decrease0.6%

Irish general election 1961.png
Percentage of seats gained by each of the five biggest parties, and number of seats gained by smaller parties and independents.

Taoiseach before election

Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

Subsequent Taoiseach

Seán Lemass
Fianna Fáil

The 1961 Irish general election was held on 4 October 1961, just over three weeks after the dissolution of the Dáil on 8 September. The newly elected members of the 17th Dáil assembled at Leinster House on 11 October, when the new Taoiseach and government were appointed.

The general election took place in 38 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 144 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, which had been reduced in size by three seats from the previous election.


The general election of 1961 saw the three main parties being led by three new leaders. Seán Lemass had taken charge of Fianna Fáil in 1959. It was also the first time Fianna Fáil faced a general election campaign without Éamon de Valera (who was by this time President of Ireland). James Dillon had taken over at Fine Gael in 1959 also, while the Labour Party was now under the leadership of Brendan Corish.

While the election was caused by the "crisis" surrounding Ireland's application for membership of the European Economic Community and various other international affairs, little attention was paid to these matters during the campaign; the 1961 general election has become known as the dullest campaign on record, with the most important issue being the teaching of the Irish language in schools. Fianna Fáil fought the election on its record in government and a reforming theme; Fine Gael presented itself as the party of free enterprise. The Labour Party campaigned strongly against the "conservative" Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael parties. It also favoured major expansion in the public sector. It was the first and only general election for the new National Progressive Democrats party led by Noël Browne.


17th Irish general election – 4 October 1961[1][2][3]
Irish general election 1961.svg
Party Leader Seats ± % of
First Pref
% FPv ±%
Fianna Fáil Seán Lemass 70 -8 48.6 512,073 43.8 -4.5
Fine Gael James Dillon 47 +7 32.6 374,099 32.0 +5.4
Labour Brendan Corish 16 +4 11.1 136,111 11.6 +2.5
Sinn Féin Paddy McLogan 0 -4 0 36,396 3.1 -2.2
Clann na Talmhan Joseph Blowick 2 -1 1.4 17,693 1.5 -0.9
Clann na Poblachta Seán MacBride[4] 1 0 0.7 13,170 1.1 -0.6
National Progressive Democrats Noël Browne 2 New 1.4 11,490 1.0 -
Christian Democratic Party 0 New 0 1,132 0.1 -
Irish Workers' League Michael O'Riordan 0 New 0 277 0.0 -
Independent N/A 6 -3 4.2 65,963 5.6 -0.3
Spoilt votes 11,334
Total 144 -3 100 1,179,738 100
Electorate/Turnout 1,670,860 70.6%
  • Fianna Fáil minority government formed.

The opposition parties gained ground on Fianna Fáil, while Sinn Féin failed to defend the four seats it had won in the previous election.

Voting summary

First preference vote
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Sinn Féin
Clann na Talmhan
Clann na Poblachta
National Progressive Democrats

Seats summary

Assembly seats
Fianna Fáil
Fine Gael
Clann na Talmhan
National Progressive Democrats
Clann na Poblachta

First-time TDs

Re-elected TDs


Outgoing TDs

See also


  1. ^ "17th Dáil 1961 General Election". ElectionsIreland.org. Retrieved 2009.
  2. ^ "Dáil elections since 1918". ARK Northern Ireland. Retrieved 2009.
  3. ^ Dieter Nohlen & Philip Stöver (2010) Elections in Europe: A data handbook, pp1009-1017 ISBN 978-3-8329-5609-7
  4. ^ After the election, while Seán MacBride was leader of Clann na Poblachta, Joseph Barron became leader and the sole member of the parliamentary party.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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