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Nolan Leaders in Modern Times (2005)

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by David Bryan Nolan, Sr.

An amazingly high number of 19th and 20th century descendants of Eochaidh Finn, a second century war hero and brother of Conn of the Hundred Battles, have distinguished themselves as leaders throughout the English-speaking world.

Michael Nicholas Nolan was born in County Carlow, Ireland in 1833. After coming to America, he was elected in 1878 as the mayor of the City of Albany, the capital of the most populous American state in the 19th century. Later in 1880, he was elected as a Democratic Party member of the United States Congress from New York.

Many Nolans have become candidates for electoral office to further their respective political and economic ideals rather than to seek power or other remuneration for themselves. For instance, Robert J. Nolan was an unsuccessful Socialist Party candidate for the United States Congress from New York at the height of that American political movement in 1912.

A similar idealist, David F. Nolan, founded the United States Libertarian Party in 1971. His Libertarian movement influenced the governing philosophy of U.S. President Ronald Reagan who sought to limit the growth of federal power domestically so as to help preserve individual liberty.

One Nolan politician had a meteoric rise to power and just as sudden a crash. In 1978, at the age 28, attorney Patrick J. Nolan was elected to the California Assembly. By the early 1980’s he rose to become that lower legislative body’s Republican minority leader.

As the result of an FBI investigation into alleged illegal kickbacks to state legislators in the nation’s most populous state by the late 20th century, the young Californian with a golden political future was convicted of taking a gratuity from a lobbyist and sent to prison. Upon regaining his freedom, Pat Nolan led the prison ministry of Chuck Colson, who himself was caught up in the Watergate entanglements of the late U.S. President Richard Nixon.

In contrast, Michael Patrick Nolan, furthered propriety in the United Kingdom. In 1991, Prime Minister John Major appointed Michael Nolan to chair the Committee on Standards in Public Life. The future Baron Nolan became a life peer under the Appellate Jurisdiction Act of 1876 while investigating numerous inquiries including the cash-for-questions affair concerning two Members of Parliament. Lord Nolan later served as Chancellor of the University of Essex from 1997 to 2003 and joined the British Privy Council in 2004.

Just as members of our ancient Clan have served for centuries as trusted assistants and loyal advisors to the line of the Leinster Kings in Ireland, a couple of Nolans played a similar role to the elected sovereigns of the United States. Attorney Beth Nolan served as Counsel to the President during the second term of Bill Clinton, the 42nd U.S. president. Cheri Nolan served as Special Assistant to White House Chief of Staff, Donald Regan during this Irishman’s tenure in the Reagan White House. She later became a Deputy Office Director in the U.S. Justice Department of the 41st president, George Herbert Walker Bush, Sr. In 2001, she became a Deputy Assistant Attorney General under the 43rd U.S. President, George W. Bush, Jr. with oversight over billions of dollars in grants to state and local police organizations.

Our family tree of leaders includes 19th and 20th century office holders, a University Chancellor, a diplomat, a union president, party candidates representing a wide spectrum of priorities, and spouses of note. Ella Mae Nolan, the widow of California Congressman John Ignatius Nolan was elected to replace her husband in 1922 after his decade of public service as a member of the U.S. Congress.

Actress Kathleen Nolan led the 120,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) from 1975 to 1979. Irishman Ronald Reagan, who used that union position and leadership experience as a stepping stone in successfully running for Governor of California in 1966 to 1970, headed SAG from 1947 to 1952 and again from 1959 to 1960.

In 2004, Gary Nolan, a popular talk radio host, was the first Nolan to run for President of the United States. Prior to seeking to become the leader of the free world, Gary Nolan had previously hosted “Nolan at Night” from 1998 to 2002 on 65 U.S. affiliates of the Radio America Network. The fifty year old finished a strong third in balloting at the National Convention of the United States Libertarian Party and then swung his delegates over to select the eventual nominee.

The voters of Ridgeway, New York, have continuously returned Catherine Nolan to the Assembly of the Empire state since1984. However, M.J. Nolan of Ireland is the only O’Nuallain descendant presently holding an elective office in a national assembly.

He has continuously represented his Carlow-Kilkenny constituency of 97,000 in the lower house of the Irish Parliament (Oriachtas) since 1988. His Fianna Fail party predecessor from the district, Michael Nolan, served in the Dail from 1961 to 1987 and served as Ireland’s Labour Minister from 1980 to 1981.

Following is a list of known Nolan descendants (including some with variants of the Gaelic O’Nuallain surname) who have been honored by election to the public trust or otherwise have become distinguished among their peers who trusted their leadership. These include:

• Joseph R. Knowland, Republican Congressman
from California (1913-1915)

• William F. Knowland, Republican U.S. Senator from California (1945-1953)

• A. Nolan, National Party MP candidate
from Island Bay, New Zealand (1991)

• Andrew F. Nolan,
mayor of Ansonia, Connecticut, (1937)

• Buster Nolan, Legalize Cannabis Alliance candidate for MP, Braintree, Eng. (1992)

• C.B. Nolan,
Montana state attorney general, (1897-1901)

• Elizabeth Nolan, Green Party MP candidate (1997) from Dewdney-Alouette, Canada

• Captain Louis Edward Nolan immortalized in Tennyson’s Charge of the Light Brigade.

• James Nolan, Speaker of the Alaska Territory (USA) House of Representatives (1949)

• John Nolan,
Justice of the Peace, Kent Co., CA (1960’s)

• John Nolan,
U.S. Deputy Postmaster General (1991)

• John Francis Nolan, Democrat member,
Town Council, West Hoboken, N.J. (1896-1900)

• John J. Nolan,
mayor of Evansville, Indiana, (1909-1910)

• Michael D. Nolan,
New York Assemblyman, (1906)

• Patrick Nolan,
mayor of Ottawa, Canada, (1934-1935)

• Pete Nolan, Patriot Party candidate for
Lt. Governor of Alaska (1994)

• Philip Nolan, a pioneer American trader killed by Mexican troops in 1801. He became immortalized in the naming of Nolan County when Texas joined the United States.

• Richard Michael Nolan, Democrat Congressman from Minnesota, (1975-1981)

• Thomas Nolan, Democrat Mayor of West Hoboken, New Jersey, (1903-1907)

• Thomas Martin Nolan,
Pennsylvania State Senator, (1970)

• W.A. Nolan, Republican member of the Minnesota State House (1906)

• William Ignatius Nolan,
Republican Lt. Governor of Minnesota, (1925-1929)
Republican Congressman from Minnesota,(1929-1933)

• David R. Noland, Democrat from the
North Carolina House of Representatives (1913)

• Edward T. Noland,
Missouri state treasurer, (1889-1890)

• James A. Noland,
Republican State Senator from Missouri, (1968)

• James E. Noland, Democrat Congressman
from Indiana, (1949-1953)

• Francis Perry Nolen,
Australian Diplomat, born 1945

• James R. Nolen, Democrat State Representative from Massachusetts (1959),

• James Nowlan, President of the Gaelic Athletic Association, from Kilkenny, Ireland

• George P. Nowlan, Progressive Conservative MP
from Nova Scotia, Canada (1965-1993)

• Patrick Nowlan, MP for Harbour Main, Newfoundland legislature, Canada (mid 1800s)

Reference: Nolan Clan Newsletter, December 2005, p. 11-13,
“Nolan Leaders in Modern Times” by David Bryan Nolan Sr.

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