Thomas Patrick Bodkin (1887–1961), was born in Dublin in July 1887, the eldest of six. He was educated at Belvedere College, Clongowes Wood College, and the Royal University of Ireland, from which he graduated in 1908, having won medals and prizes for oratory, among them the lord chancellor's prize. He was called to the bar (King's Inns) in 1911 and practised for five years. On leaving the bar he became increasingly involved in public affairs. He acted as commissioner and secretary to the commission of charitable donations and bequests in the Irish Free State. In 1926 he served on the commission to advise the Irish government on coinage design, being mainly responsible for choosing animal and bird designs by Percy Metcalfe. His appointment to succeed Lucius O'Callaghan as director of the National Gallery of Ireland followed in 1927
In 1935 Bodkin left Ireland to take up the dual appointment as Director of the newly founded Barber Institute and Professor of Fine Arts in the University of Birmingham. He received honorary degrees from the National University of Ireland and the University of Dublin, was a trustee of the National Library of Ireland and honorary professor of the history of fine arts at Trinity College, Dublin. He was an honorary associate of the Royal Institute of Architects, an officer of the Légion d'honneur, and a knight of St Gregory to the Holy See. He died at his home in Birmingham, on 24 April 1961.