Civil Service “Privilege” days – riddle solved by James Mackey

The question of why privilege days in the Irish civil service has been answered for me by retired solicitor Mr James Mackey of Dalkey who is descended from Mr Lynch, the Attorney General in de Valero’s government. The story is that when Saorstat Eireann was born, the Civil Service switched from being part of the British Civil Service to serve its new masters. At that time, a privilege day off was given to civil servants to mark the King’s Birthday and Empire Day. The staff did not want to lose their two days “privilege ” leave so a deal was done for two concession days covering Easter and Christmas.

The Kings (Queens) birthday is celebrated in various British Commonweath countres inclusing Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands as a public holiday. The date varies in different countries. In the UK, it is not a public holiday but a “privilege” day is given to civil servants.

Empire Day now Commonwealth Day started in 1898 in Canada and in 1901 in Britain. It is the second monday in March. In Canada and in Edinburgh and Dundee, Victoria Day is celebrated on the Monday on or before the 24th May as a public holiday. Elsewhere it is not a public holiday but is marked by various Commonwealth ceremonies.