Liam de Róiste (William Roche) was born in 1882 in Fountainstown/Tracton, County Cork, the son of Edward Roche (Tipperary) and Eliza Ahern, primary school teachers. He worked in a Cork drapery store at age 17 and then took a post in Skerry's College, where he later held a teaching position.
An Irish language speaker and enthusiast, he was founder member in 1899, and in turn Secretary and Chairman, of the Cork branch of the Gaelic League and Secretary of the Cork Young Ireland Society, as well as a founder member of Coláiste na Mumhan in Ballingeary, and a founder member of the Cork Celtic Literary Society alongside Terence MacSwiney and Tomás MacCurtain, Seán O'Hegarty and Daniel Corkery. He also held the post of Secretary of the Cork Industrial Development Association, which he helped to found alongside George Crosbie.
While Vice Chairman of the Cork branch of Sinn Féin, he chaired its first meeting, attended by Eoin MacNeill and Douglas Hyde, in 1906. A prominent early member of the Irish Volunteers movement, he took part in the march to Macroom on Easter Sunday 1916 and later in helping to smuggle arms for the I.R.A.
In partnership with J.J. Walsh, he was elected an M.P. and Sinn Féin TD for Cork to the First Dáil in 1918, and to the Second Dáil in 1921. In 1921, a force of 'Black and Tans' raided his home in Sunday's Well and murdered a visitor, Rev. Seamus O'Callaghan, probably intending to assassinate de Róiste. Elected as Leas Ceann Comhairle (Deputy Chairman) of Dáil Éireann, he presided over many of the debates on the Anglo-Irish Treaty in December-January 1921-22. He was elected to Third Dáil as pro-Treaty candidate in June 1922. In the lead up to Civil War, he was part of a group that tried unsuccessfully to reconcile the pro- and anti- Treaty sides, but in doing so, he alienated many of his supporters, and his future career in national politics was effectively ended. He stood unsuccessfully as a Cumann na nGael candidate at the June 1927 general election.
De Róiste served as an Alderman on Cork Corporation (now Cork City Council) 1920-1922 and was elected one of three Cumann na Gael councillors/members of the reformed Cork Corporation from March 1929. He lost his Cork Corporation seat in the first of the local elections held annually from 1930-1936. In 1936-1937, he was a supporter of the nationalist faction in the Spanish Civil War.
Later, he served again as one of 5 councillors for the newly formed Cork Civic Party for 2 periods from 1945-1950. He retired from politics in 1950.
He was Secretary and Director of the Irish International Trading Corporation, Cork , an import/export business. To a limited extent a playwright and author, De Róiste wrote a few plays and a pamphlet in his youth, and wrote about Cork's Gaelic movement and nationalist movement for the Cork Examiner in his later years. A lifelong member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society, he died 15 May 1959 and is buried at St.Joseph's Cemetery, Glasheen, Cork.
Online: Liam de Róiste TD, Diaries
Biography of Liam de Róiste by Diarmuid O'Murchadha (1976).
Some information also courtesy of Eileen McGough