Neal Blaney.

Neal Blaney (Neil) (1889–1948), politician and businessman, was born 5 November 1889 in the family home at Rosnakill, Co. Donegal, fifth of six children of William Blaney, small farmer, and Anna Blaney (née Sweeney). Aged 12, he left school to work on the family farm, situated midway up the Fanad peninsula. Later he augmented his income as an agent for the New Ireland Assurance Co and came into contact with Joseph O'Doherty, a member of the headquarters staff of the Irish Volunteers and a Sinn Féin organiser. 

In 1913 Blaney joined the Irish Volunteers in Rosnakill and in 1914 was appointed Company Captain. The first president of the Rosnakill branch of Sinn Féin (founded 1916), he was active in O'Doherty's 1918 General Election campaign. In 1920 he was appointed Officer in charge of the Fanad Battalion, 1st Northern Division IRA, and district judge of the dáil courts in Fanad and Inishowen. Captured by British forces in March 1921, he was court-martialled in Derry (19 April 1921) for possessing illegal documents and sentenced to five years imprisonment; he served ten months in Dartmoor prison and was released soon after the signing of the treaty. During the civil war Blaney was second-in-command of IRA Donegal no. 2 Brigade before being captured by Free State forces (December 1922). His death sentence (1923) for possession of a firearm was commuted after the ceasefire order, and he was released in July 1924. 

A member of Donegal county council and its subsidiary bodies from 1925, he was initially opposed to the Sinn Féin split (1926) but was persuaded by Seán Lemass to join Fianna Fáil. Elected TD for Donegal (June 1927–37) and Donegal East (1937–8), he lost his seat in 1938 after allowing his local power base to be eroded by Henry A. McDevitt. A member of the seanad (1938–43), he was re-elected for Donegal East (1943, 1948), topping the poll each time. A strident republican, he believed that physical force was the only way to secure the six counties and obtain complete independence. 

Blaney was a director of the Milford Bakery Co., and also of the Donegal Bacon Co., Letterkenny, which he was instrumental in founding. A very sociable and personable man, he was known to be a heavy drinker. In early October 1948 he was diagnosed as suffering from cancer; he died in Letterkenny Hospital 30 October. 

He married Hannah Blaney, and they had five daughters and six sons. The family lived at Rosnakill, Fanad, Co.Donegal 




1901 Census Ireland - William & Anna Blaney Household in Rossnakill 

1911 Census Ireland - William and Anna Blaney Household in Rossnakill 

Neal Blaney - 

Neal Blaney - 

Neal Blaney – Tamney Graveyard, Fanad  


Shared on by:  

Seamus Callaghan (Kerrykeel)  


Additional Information
Date of Birth 5th Nov 1889
Date of Death 30th Oct 1948


  • Neal Blaney did not marry Nora Sweeney, he married Hannah Blaney, daughter of Henry Blaney (1863-1916) and Catherine (Cassie) Sweeney.

    Henry Blaney was the son of Henry Blaney (1830-1892) and Hannah Gibbons (1838-1888).

    I believe (not 100% sure) Neal Blaney's father William is either a brother of cousin off this Henry Blaney which means Neal and Hannah were possibily distant cousins.


    Thursday 16th January 2020 03:11PM
  • Thank you Vincent for this correction to the information that was shared. I did a small bit of research just to try and to confirm this, but unusual enough I could not find many marriage records for the Blaneys back in the early 1900's. I am sure that you must have a bit of a family connection and so that would be good enough to support the correction. I  do tend to agree also that both Neal and Henry Blaney would have been closely related supported by the fact they lived so close to each other. back in the mid 1800's. Best Regards, Seamus 



    Clondavaddog Donegal, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 17th January 2020 01:52AM
  • Yes there is a family connection, my great great grandmother was Rose Ann Blaney (married Patrick Greene of Kerrykeel), her sister was Hannah Blaney who married Neal Blaney. If you look at the birth index on for their son Neil Terence Columba Blaney born 1922, the mother's maiden name is also Blaney. I also DNA match with Neal and Hannah's descentants.

    Judge John Gibbon's of Chicago was an uncle of Hannah Blaney The family story is that two Gibbons cousins came from Mayo to Fanad and every Gibbons in the Fanad region descend from these cousins. On an obituary I found for Judge John Gibbons, it said he was also related to Cardinal James Gibbons, Cardinal Michael Logue and Archbishop Daniel McGettigan. I was never able to make a link them them because of the lack of records in the early 1800s.

    Here is the original Blaney house (Hannah's Blaney line),-7.6888643,3a,49y,280.72h,83…


    Monday 23rd October 2023 12:15PM

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