William O'Dwyer

Attorney / Mayor /Ambassador

William O 'Dwyer
Bohola, Mayo.
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Bohola sign plus Community Centre.
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New York City
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Mexico City.
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The information for this story of William O Dwyer was sourced from New York Mayo Men’s Association Journal, Jubilee Edition 1954.

This man experienced life in the United States while combining various endeavors from policeman to High Office in New York to Mexico.

William O ‘Dwyer was born in Bohola, Co. Mayo during 1890. He studied at the local national school where his father was the principle. He attended St. Nathy’s College in Ballaghadereen prior to further education at the National University of Salamanca in Spain.


During 1910 he emigrated to the United States, he was Nationalized in 1916. Prior to his entry to the Police Force in New York City O’ Dwyer studied at night classes at Fortham University Law School while working at various employments, he graduated during 1923.

Legal Career

He was admitted to the bar during 1925 where he was engaged in many Law Practices. He was known for his extensive knowledge of the law plus his shrewdness. He is credited with the solving of 56 homicides plus many dozens of convictions. He was appointed City Magistrate in 1932. Later he was appointed a Judge in King’s County Court. O’ Dwyer was elected District Attorney of King’s County during 1939. He gained attention as a prosecutor of gangs in Brooklyn known as “Murder Inc.”


During W.W.2 he was promoted from Major to Brigadier-General. He represented the U.S.A. on Allied Commission for Italy also he directed the War Refugee Board.


William O’ Dwyer married Catherine Lenihen during 1916, they had four children, she died in 1946. His second wife was Sloan Simpson a Texan Model, daughter of Eleanor Laurenson Myer, whom he married following her annulment. She divorced O’ Dwyer however when he resigned as ambassador.


In 1945 William O’ Dwyer was elected Mayor of New York City plus re- elected during 1949. He was instrumental with others in persuading the United Nations to make New York their home! O’Dwyer established the Office of City Construction Co–Ordinator. He presided over the first Million– Dollar N.Y.C. budget also he created a traffic department. During 1948 he received the Hundred Year Association of N.Y. Gold Medal Award, “In recognition of outstanding Contributions to the City of New York.”  He was a member and Past President of New York’s Mayo Men’s Association. He resigned his Mayoral Office on August 1950.


He then accepted a U.S. ambassadorship to Mexico from president Harry S. Truman. During 1951 he visited Israel for 34 days on behalf of his Jewish constituents. He helped with the organization of the first Jewish Day parade in N.Y.C. He remained living in Mexico where he practiced law until 1960.

William O’ Dwyer died on November 24th 1964 at Beth Israel Hospital in New York aged 74 years. He is interred at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.


A housing Complex, completed on December 1969 is named in his honour located in Brooklyn, New York City.[i]

William O’ Dwyer is mentioned in various books; “Ed Koch and Rebuilding of New York City” by Jonathan Saffer, “The Canary Sang but could’nt Fly; Fatal Fall of Abe Reles, The Mobster” by Edmund Elmaler, “Memories of a Secret Agent” by Paul K. Ramee,“New York City Mayors Part 11” by Ralph J. Caliendo, “Political Intelligence and the Creation of Modern Mexico, 1938 – 1954” by Aaron W. Navarro.

 Reference Source:  New York Mayo Men’s Association Journal, Jubilee Edition 1954


[i] www.emporis.com



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