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Which Irish president has had the longest tenure in office?

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Ireland - Ireland FAQs and Trivia
Written by Hugh McManus   

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Wednesday, 02 December 2009 07:06

Which Irish president has had the longest tenure in office?  (It's close, the victor wins by just one day.)

The answer is a Éamon de Valera, by one day.  Éamon de Valera served in office for 5113 days; his predecessor, Seán T. O'Kelly, was president for 5112 days, as was Patrick Hillery, Ireland's sixth president and Mary McAleese, the nation's eight person to hold the office.  President de Valera wins because there were four Leap Years during his presidency; Hillery, O'Kelly and McAleese only had three Leap Years during their respective terms in office.
  1. Douglas Hyde  (June 25, 1938 to June 24, 1945: 2556 days)
  2. Seán T. O'Kelly (June 25, 1945 to June 24, 1959: 5112 days)
  3. Éamon de Valera (June 25, 1959 to June 24, 1973: 5113 days)
  4. Erskine Childers (June 25, 1973 to November 17, 1974: 510 days)
  5. Ceabhall Ó Dálaigh (December 19, 1974 to October 22, 1976: 673 days)
  6. Patrick Hillery (December 3, 1976 to December 2, 1990: 5112 days)
  7. Mary Robinson (December 3, 1990 to September 12, 1997: 2475 days)
  8. Mary McAleese (November 11, 1997 to - 10 November 2011: 5112)
  9. Michael D. Higgins (November 11, 2011 - present)

The first four presidents all assumed office on June 25.  President McAleese is the world's first female elected head of state to succeed another female elected head of state.  You take your victories where you can get them.

So, what does the current president, Michael D. Higgins have to do to equal or surpass President de Valera?  First, he has to stay in office until he is 84 years old: he was born on April 18, 1941, the day on which Yugoslavia surrendered to Germany.  He has a shot.  Just like President de Valera, President Higgins will have four Leap Years during two terms of office; he could potentially beat de Valera by a day.  I suspect that it won't happen as many expect him to retire after one term in office.

 

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