Denis Ireland could also well be described as a journalist, writer, politician and sometime linen merchant who despite an Ulster Presbyterian background became an enthusiastic Irish Nationalist.
He was born at 17 Malone Park, Belfast, son of a linen manufacturer, Adam Liddell Ireland, originally from Lurgan, County Armagh, and Isabella McHinch. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, the Perse School in Cambridge, and at Queen's University, Belfast. He interrupted his degree in medicine in 1914 and joined the Royal Irish Fusiliers, serving in France and Macedonia. His brother also saw war service in the Royal Navy but was killed. Denis was invalided home with the rank of Captain, and was said to have formed his Irish Nationalist views from his convalescent reading (including a book on Irish placenames). He decided against resuming his medical studies and despite misgivings about working conditions (not least from a medical point of view) represented the family linen business in Canada, Britain and the United States, retiring in 1930. He was a freelance writer and broadcaster (BBC) for nearly forty years, being particularly interested in Irish history and politics (he stood unsuccessfully for Belfast East in the General Election of 1929) and especially the place of Ulster Presbyterians in this context. His interest in politics saw him meet David Lloyd George, of whom he was critical, and Eamonn de Valera, whom he found impressive. He was elected to Seanad Eireann, the Senate of the Irish Free State, in 1948 on the nomination of Taoiseach John A Costello, apparently on the suggestion of Sean MacBride, a member of Costello's coalition government, and was the first member of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament) to be resident in Northern Ireland; until ol age he resided at various addresses in the Malone area of south Belfast. While a Senator, he was Irish representative to the Council of Europe
Among his works are Red Brick City; Patriot Adventurer, a life of Wolfe Tone; The Age of Unreason; Six Counties in Search of a Nation and the autobiographical From the Irish Shore. A further volume of autobiography, Statues Round the City Hall, was published in 1939.
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