1974 Irish presidential election

← 1973 17 November 1974
1976 →
Nominee Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh
Party Fianna Fáil

President before election

Erskine H. Childers
Fianna Fáil

Elected President

Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh

The 1974 Irish presidential election resulted from the sudden death in office of President Erskine H. Childers. Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh was elected unopposed as the fifth president of Ireland.

Nomination process

Under Article 12 of the Constitution of Ireland, a candidate for president could be nominated by:

Agreed candidate

Initially all parties privately agreed to nominate the late president's widow, Rita Childers.[1] Before she was informed of the plan, however, a mix-up led to the collapse of the arrangement.[2] A partially deaf Fine Gael Teachta Dála, identified in some reports as Tom O'Donnell,[3] confirmed the secret arrangement upon mishearing a journalist's question asking about the decision of a local council's nomination of Childers as president, having assumed that the cross-party decision was made public.[2] Fianna Fáil leader Jack Lynch, thinking the party was set up, subsequently withdrew from the agreement and nominated Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh instead.[2] The parties agreed to the new arrangement due to a number of external factors, including a sluggish economy and The Troubles.[2]

Ó Dálaigh had served as Attorney General from 1951 to 1953, as a judge of the Supreme Court from 1953 to 1973, as Chief Justice from 1961 to 1973, and had been serving as a judge of the European Court of Justice from 1973 at the time of his nomination. All parties agreed to Ó Dálaigh's nomination. As no other candidate was nominated, it was not necessary to proceed to a ballot for his election.


1974 Irish presidential election[4]
Candidate Nominated by
Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour Party

Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh was inaugurated as president on 19 December 1974.


  1. ^ Regan, Mary (10 May 2010). "Rita Childers dies peacefully aged 95". Irish Examiner. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d "The best President we never had". Irish Independent. 15 May 2010. Archived from the original on 4 July 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  3. ^ "Presidential campaigns are not getting dirtier - they are just more public". The Tuam Herald. 26 October 2011. Archived from the original on 1 September 2018. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Presidential Elections 1938–2011" (PDF). Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government. p. 30. Archived (PDF) from the original on 20 December 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2018.