The Women of Easter, 1916

Easter Rising, Enniscorthy 1916: writing about a revolution (Irish Times, 26 Mar 2016): Three writers remember three women – George O’Brien his grandaunt Greta Comerford, Roddy Doyle his grandaunt Una Brennan and Colm Tóibín his neighbour Marion Stokes

Una Brennan, about whom Roddy Doyle writes in this article, was my great-grandmother. My mom was named after her, and one of my sons is named after her husband.

see more posts in the Ireland category.

Easter, 1916

I have met them at close of day
Coming with vivid faces
From counter or desk among grey
Eighteenth-century houses.
I have passed with a nod of the head
Or polite meaningless words,
Or have lingered awhile and said
Polite meaningless words,
And thought before I had done
Of a mocking tale or a gibe
To please a companion
Around the fire at the club,
Being certain that they and I
But lived where motley is worn:
All changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.

That woman’s days were spent
In ignorant good will,
Her nights in argument
Until her voice grew shrill.
What voice more sweet than hers
When young and beautiful,
She rode to harriers?
This man had kept a school
And rode our winged horse.
This other his helper and friend
Was coming into his force;
He might have won fame in the end,
So sensitive his nature seemed,
So daring and sweet his thought.
This other man I had dreamed
A drunken, vain-glorious lout.
He had done most bitter wrong
To some who are near my heart,
Yet I number him in the song;
He, too, has resigned his part
In the casual comedy;
He, too, has been changed in his turn,
Transformed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.

Hearts with one purpose alone
Through summer and winter seem
Enchanted to a stone
To trouble the living stream.
The horse that comes from the road.
The rider, the birds that range
From cloud to tumbling cloud,
Minute by minute they change;
A shadow of cloud on the stream
Changes minute by minute;
A horse-hoof slides on the brim,
And a horse plashes within it
The long-legged moor-hens dive,
And hens to moor-cocks call.
Minute by minute they live:
The stone’s in the midst of all.

Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven’s part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead.
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse
— MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born.


[see also Robert Breannan,]

Robert Brennan

A translation, courtesy of Jo Kaybryn, of short document about Robert Brennan found at the Université de Genève.

Brennan was born in Wexford. He was a journalist. During the Easter Rising of 1916, he held Wexford with 600 men, as commander of the Irish Volunteers. Sentenced to death, Brennan saw his sentence commuted to life imprisonment. He was released during the general amnesty in 1917. From January 1919, he worked at the Department of External Affairs of the parallel government Sinn Fein. For example, replacing Fitzgerald as Minister of Propaganda when he was imprisoned. After the Treaty of December 6, 1921, Brennan was committed to the Republican side during the civil war. He later refused the position of Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs. Brennan was the director from 1920 to 1934 of the newspaper created by de Valera, The Irish Press, and then joined the diplomatic service when Fianna Fáil came to power. He was director of Broadcasting from 1947 to 1948. He published various pieces, stories and his autobiography, Allegiance (1950).

Maeve Brennan

Backup information on Maeve Brennan, daughter of Robert Brennan. Text from Princess Grace Irish Library, copied here for family archival purposes only. Feb 2003


1917-1993 [pseud. ‘The Long-Winded Lady’]; b. 6 Jan. & ed.
[Dublin,] Ireland; dg. of Robert Brennan, a participant in the Easter
Rising and later Propaganda chief of the IRA [Sinn Féin] under
Michael Collins; appt. first Irish ambassador to America 1934; Maeve remained
in New York on return of family to Ireland; worked as copywriter on Harper’s
before joining New Yorker staff to write on women’s
fashion at invitation of William Shawn, 1949; issued “The Holy Terror”,
her first story, 1950; contrib. to “Talk of the Town” column
under pseud., 1953-1968; issued In and Out of Never-Never Land
(1969), 22 stories; also Christmas Eve (1974), 13 stories, and
The Long-Winded Lady (1969), 47 short pieces from “Talk of
the Town”, 1953-1968; m. St Clair McKelway, living at Sneden’s
Landing (Hudson), and divorced, becoming migratory after; suffered nervous
breakdown; settled in cubby-hole at rear of ladies’ lavatory at office
of the New Yorker; d. Nov. 1993, after a decade spent as inmate
of several mental hospitals; posthumous collection issued as The Springs
of Affection: Stories of Dublin
(1997), being 21 stories of family
love and its failures in Dublin, introduced by William Maxwell, former-editor
of New Yorker and friend; followed by The Rose Garden (1999),
20 stories from The New Yorker; also The Visitor (2000),
a haunting narrative of a young girl whose parents are dead, and who returns
from Paris to live with her emotionally cold grandmother, recently discovered
in US university archive and published in Washington; a biography by Angela
Bourke is in preparation.

[ top ]


Christmas Eve (NY: Charles Scribner & Sons 1974); The
Long-Winded Lady: Notes from the New Yorker
[1st Edn.] (New York:
William Morrow & Co. 1969), 237pp. [infra], and
Do. [another edn.] (NY: Houghton Mifflin/Mariner Boston 1997 [1998]);
In and Out of Never-Never Land: Twenty-two Stories (NY Charles
Scribner’s Sons 1969) 274pp. [ded. ‘For the Bolgers of Coolnaboy,
Oylegate: Anastasia James John Elizabeth Ellen Walter’; infra];
The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin [1st edn.] (NY: Houghton
Mifflin 1997; 1998), [vi]viii, 358pp.; Do. (London: Flamingo 1999),
346pp., port.; The Rose Garden (Washington: Counterpoint 2000),
312pp. [hb.; ded. ‘To W.S.’; infra];
Do. (London: HarperCollins 1999), and Do. (Washington: Counterpoint
2000, 2001) [pb.]; another edn. (Perseus Books Group, Washington, USA
2001), 320pp.; The Visitor (Washington, DC: Counterpoint Press
2000), 86pp. [incl. Ed. Note by Christopher Carduff, pp.[82]-86; Do.
[another edn.] (Washington: Perseus Books q.d.); Do. [another edn.],
foreword by Clare Boylan (Dublin New Island Books 2001), [i-vii], [3]-86pp.;
Ed. Note, ppp.[82-86] Do. (Atlantic Books UK 2000), hb. [in assoc.
with New Island Press].

Miscellaneous, With Frank O’Connor,
John Updike, Roald Dahl, Dorothy Parker, Elizaberth Taylor, Nancy Hale
et. al., Stories From the New Yorker 1950-1960 (NY: Simon & Schuster
1960), 780pp., hb.

In and Out
of Never-Never Land
(NY: Charles Scribner’s Sons 1969), Contents,
BLUEBELL: The Door on West Tenth Street [3]; A Large Bee [14]; The Children
Are Very Quiet When They Are Away In and Out of Never-Never Land [22];
The Children Are There, Trying Not to Laugh [41]; I See You, Bianca [47].
48, CHERRYFIELD AVENUE: The Morning After the Big Fire [59]; The Old Man
of the Sea [64]; The Barrel of Rumors [73]; The Day We Got Our Own Back
[80]; The Clever One [85]; The Lie go The Devil in Us [95]. MRS. BAGOT:
The Twelfth Wedding Anniversary [107]; The Carpet with the Big Pink Roses
on It [123]; The Sofa [131]; The Shadow of Kindness [140]; The Eldest
Child [155]; Stories of Africa [164]. TWO PEOPLE: A Young Girl Can Spoil
Her Chances [193]; The Drowned Man [228]; A Free Choice [246]. (See Quotations,

The Long-winded
(NY: William Morrow 1969), Contents: Author’s Note [9]; They
were both about forty [15]; A mysterious parade of men [19]; The solitude
of their expression [2]; On the A train [26]; Balzac’s favorite food
[29]; The dark elevator [32]; Broccoli [37]; A shoe story [40]; In the
Grosvenor bar [44]; A Chinese fortune [47]; From the Earle Hotel [51];The
farmhouse that moved downtown [57]; A lost lady [62]; The flower children
[67]; Wild money [75]; Lovers in Washington Square [78]; I wish for a
little street music [82]; Jobs [86]; Little birds in torture [93]; A young
lady with a lap [95]; The morning after [99]; The two protesters [104];
Lost overtures [108]; The man who combed his hair [112]; The good Adano
[117]; A busload of scolds [122]; Movie stars at large [126]; Faraway
places near here [132]; The traveller [137]; Sixth Avenue shows its true
self [143]; I look down from the windows of this old Broadway hotel [147];
Mr. Sam Bidner and his saxophone [154]; The ailanthus, our back-yard tree
[160]; A little boy crying [167]; A young man with a menu [170]; Painful
choice [178]; The new girls on West Forty-ninth Street [180]; The view
Chez Paul [187]; The sorry joker [193]; Giving money in the street [198];
Bad Tiny [201]; An irritating stranger [206];; The cheating of Philippe
[212]; West Eighth Street has changed and changed and changed again [217];
Ludvík Vaculík [223]; The name of Minnie Smith [230]; Howard’s
apartment [233]. (See Quotations, infra.)

The Springs
of Affection
: Stories of Dublin
(NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1997),
Contents: Introduction by William Maxwell [1]; The Morning after the Big
Fire [15]; The Old Man of the Sea [21]; The Barrel of Rumors [30]; The
Day We Got Our Own Back [37]; The Lie [42]; The Devil in Us [47]; The
Clever One [56]; A Young Girl Can Spoil Her Chances [63]; A Free Choice
[99]; The Poor Men and Women [128] An Attack of Hunger [148]; Family Walls
[171 The Drowned Man [193 The Twelfth Wedding Anniversary [215]; The Carpet
with the Big Pink Roses on It [232]; The Shadow of Kindness [240]; The
Sofa [255]; The Eldest Child [264]; Stories of Africa [273]; Christmas
Eve [299]; The Springs of Affection [308]. Note [357]. Dustjacket [end,
flap] shows photo of Brennan by Jill Krementz, 28 May 1984.

The Rose
(Washington: Counterpoint 2000), Contents: Preface [vii];
The View from the Kitchen [3]; The Anachronism [16]; The Gentleman in
the Pink-and-White Striped Shirt [39]; The Joker [52]; The Stone Hot-Water
Bottle [70]; The Divine Fireplace [94]; The Servants’ Dance [111]; The
Bride [153]; The Holy Terror [159]; The Bohemians [172]; The Rose Garden
[184]; The Beginning of a Long Story [204]; The Daughters [225]; A Snowy
Night on West Forty-ninth Street [232]; I See You, Bianca [250]; The Door
on West Tenth Street [263]; A Large Bee [275]; The Children Are Very Quiet
When They Are Away [279]; In and Out of Never-Never Land [283]; The Children
Are There, Trying Not to Laugh [302]; Note [309].

[ top ]


Clare Boylan, review of Maeve Brennan, The Visitor (Counterpoint
[2001]), in The Irish Times (24 Feb. 2001) relates that the short
novel deals with Anastasia, returning to Dublin after the death of her
mother in Paris; her father being dead also, she stays in the family home
where her grandmother, Mrs King, sees the chance to revenge herself upon
the woman who took her son away and then left him and the child who took
her part. Boylan considers that Brennan has created one of the great monsters
of modern Irish fiction in Mrs King, a ‘patient predator who feeds
daintily on the fears of the vulnerable’; cites Mary Lavin’s
description of the short story as ‘an arrow in flight’ and calls
it an ‘exquisite novella’. [Note that Boylan is the author of
the Atlantic Books foreword.]

Clare Boylan, Foreword to The
(New Island Edn. 2001), writes: ‘The word “lonely”
tolls like a solitary bell through the pages of The Visitor. Brennan does’t
just write about loneliness. She inhabits it. She exhibits it. She elvates
it to an art form. The shy, the dispossessed, the dominated, are seen
not in the world but teetering on some perilous rim of it, from where
they cannot possibly keep their balance but have a unique view. The painful
self-consciousness of her cnaracters is reflected in a constant feeling
of watchfulness. […] The sense of understated foreboding that runs through
The Visitor reminds one of […] The Turning of the Screw by
Henry James. The suburban house in Ranelagh, with its memories and resentments,
is permeated by a sense of danger and unease, heightened by Anastasia’s
lack of awareness and her monumental lack of judgement. The late Penelope
Fitzgerald wrote that Brennan’s writing “carries an electric
charge of resentment and quiet satisfaction in revenge that chills you
right through.Ӊ۪ (Foreword, The Visitor, pp.[4-5].)

Compass Rose Books (Kensington,
CA, U.S.A) notes of Brennan’s contributions as The Long-Winded Lady:
‘This delightful eccentric practice, later abandoned during the disastrous
tenure of Tina Brown’s editorship of that magazine, enabled a host of
talented writers – young and old – to essay the abreviated essay under
cover of the editorial “we”, which put the emphasis on writing as writing,
as opposed to celebrity. The Long-Winded Lady was one of several correspondents
who flourished during this period.’ [See Abebooks online.]

[ top ]


‘Howard’s Apartment’ (The
Long-winded Lady
, 1969): ‘The rain is falling fast and as black
as ever. The windows of the front apartment where the party is must be
streaming with rain-frothing, almost-and Tenth Street must be streaming,
too, and frothing black. But a cocktail party has to expand, if it can,
and now the people in front have opened their door and left it open. What
a lot of noise they are making with glasses and bottles and music and
voices! They must have hundreds of people in there. Once in a while, over
the low roar of conversation, there is a loud laugh, and once in a while
a little shriek. Outside, all the noise in the world is being hammered
into the earth by the rain, and, inside, all the noise there is is effervescing
at the cocktail party. Only in this room there is stillness, and the stillness
has gone tense. The room is waiting for something to happen. I could light
the fire, but my friend forgot to leave me any logs. I could turn on a
lamp, but there is no animal feeling in electricity. I stand up again
and walk over to the phonograph and switch it on without changing the
record that I played this morning. The music strengthens, and moves about,
catching the pictures, the books, and the discolored white marble mantelpiece
as firelight might have done. Now the place is no longer a cave but a
room with walls that listen in peace. I hear the music and I watch the
voice. I can see it. It is a voice to follow with your mind’s eye. “La
Brave, c-est elle
.” There is no other. Billie Holiday is singing.’
(p.237; End.)

‘The Twelfth
Wedding Anniversary
’ (In and Out of Never-Never Land,
1969): ‘Martin Bagot knew perfectly well it was his wedding anniversary,
and the thought of it embarrassed and irritated him. Things were going
along well enough, and he wanted no sentimental reminders. He wanted no
reminders of any kind. He wanted to be left alone. When Delia hesitated
after putting down the breakfast tray, he thought he knew what she was
going to say, and he felt panic-stricken. Then when she left the room
without speaking he was glad-ashamed of himself but glad anyway. / Lately
he had the feeling of putting things off. He only had that feeling when
he was at home, or when he was on his way home, and he would have liked
to put off coming home indefinitely. He would have liked to have a rest
from himself. When he was in the house he was hateful to himself. The
feeling of being hateful to himself grew worse every day. He knew it grew
worse, because at times he was able to remember his feelings of six months
ago, and the feelings that had seemed so painful then were nothing compared
with what he felt today. / He wanted time to think. He wanted a chance
to separate the hateful picture he had of himself from his real self,
so that he could stand back and decide what to do. […].’

New York, New York: Brennan called
her pieces in The New Yorker a series of snapshots ‘taken during
a long, slow journey not through but in the most cumbersome, most reckless,
most ambitious, most confused, most comical, the saddest and coldest and
must human of cities.’ (Quoted in ‘About the Author’, end-note
to The Rose Garden, Counterpoint, 2000, p.307.)

[ top ]


Abebooks lists Christmas Eve, 13 Stories (NY: Charles Scribner
& Sons 1974) [13 stories of which 6 set in Herbert’s Retreat, Hudson River,
1 in New York and 6 in Ireland]; The Long-Winded Lady [1st Edn.]
(NY: William Morrow & Co. 1969), 237pp. [dustjacket by Lydia Rosier; 47
short pieces publ. anonymously in Talk of the Town section of The New
Yorker during 1953-1968]; Do. [another edn.] (Houghton Mifflin/Mariner
Boston 1998); The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin, intro. by William
Maxwell [1st edn.] (Houghton Mifflin 1997; 1998), [vi]viii, 358pp. [21
Dublin stories]; Rose Garden (Washington: Counterpoint 1999, 2000), 312pp.,
hb.; Do. (Washington: Counterpoint 2000, 2001), pb.; and Do. (London:
HarperCollins 1999); In and Out of Never-Never Land: Twenty-two Stories
(NY Charles Scribner’s Sons 1969) 274pp. [var. 1st edn. 1964]; The Visitor
(Washington, DC: Counterpoint Press, 2000), 96pp.; Do. [another edn.]
(New Island 2001); Do. (Atlantic Books UK 2000), hb.; Do. [another edn.]
(Perseus Books q.d.) [hb.]; Frank O’CONNOR, John UPDIKE, Roald DAHL, PARKER
Dorothy, Elizabeth TAYLOR, BRENNAN Maeve, Nancy HALE, et al. [in] Stories
From the New Yorker 1950-1960 (Simon & Schuster 1960) [hb.], 780pp. Also
lists copy of James Joyce, Collected Poems (NY: [4th imp.] Viking 1946)
with signature of Maeve Brennan, and copy of Gerald Murphy, Early Irish
Lyrics Eighth to Twelfth Century (Clarendon Press [2nd. corr. imp. 1962),
signed by Brennan in 1965.

[ top ]


The Springs of Affection (1997) traces patterns of love
in three middle-class Dublin families – love between husband and wife
beginning in courtship and laughter and later vanishing through loss of
expression; love of sister for brother and mother for son, twisted into
possessive rage, as well as the rituals that sustain family love. Back
cover blurbs by Edna O’Brien, Alice Munro and Mavis Gallantback,
among which O’Brien: ‘Wonderful vignettes of a bygone Dublin, with
a truth and freshness that makes them timeless.’ Introduction: ‘Set
in the Dublin of a bygone era, 21 stories (1952-1973) by the former New
Yorker writer trace patterns of love within three middle-class Dublin
families, patterns as intricate as Irish lace.’ Another edn. Flamingo
1999. Quotes [?Introduction]: ‘Maeve Brennan contributed to The
New Yorker’s
“Talk of the Town” department under the pen name
“the long-winded lady”. Her unforgettable sketches – prose snapshots of
life in the streets, diners, and cheap hotels just off Times Square –
are a timeless, bittersweet tribute to what she calls the “most ambitious,
most comical[,] saddest and coldest and most human of cities.Ӊ۪

In & Out of focus:
In and Out of Never-Land: Twenty-Two Stories (q.d.): first edn.
dates given as 1964 by Monroe Street Books, Middlebury, VT, USA but 1969
by sundry booksellers.]

Namesake: Maeve Brennan, author
of a letters to and 1968 memoir of Philip Larkin at Brynmor Library, Hull,
is not to be confused with Maeve Brennan of the New Yorker. (See
Abebooks Online Cat., as supra, and rep. edition, 2002 [TLS reviews,

Atlantic shuffle (1): The
New Island Edn. of The Visitor (2001) is printed from the same
plates as the Counterpoint/Persues Edn. (2000), with an unpaginated Foreword
by Clare Boylan placed prior to p.[3], being the first page of the novella.
The Editor’s Note by Christoper Carduff occupies pp.[82]-86 in both editions.

Atlantic shuffle (2): The Rose
was issued by HarperCollins in 1999 but the Counterpoint edn.
bears the Library of Congress and copyright stamps 2000, with prior copyright
stamps of 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1966,
1967 & 1968 [presum. in resp. of indiv. stories]; there is an author’s
preface (‘… there are a number of places I am homesick for …’)
dated 1976 in the US edn.

Atlantic Shuffle (3): End-note
in Counterpoint Edn. of The Rose Garden begins: Maeve Brennan was born
in Dublin, on January 6, 1916 [sic] but that she died aged 76 in Nov.

The family: Maeve Brennan spent several
months writing reviews for the New Yorker in the Doyle’s backgarden
– that is, the parents of Roddy Doyle, as his book Rory and Ita (2002)
reveals. See ‘The novelist who ghosts for his ma and da’, in
Books Ireland (Dec. 2002), p.305.

[ top ]

Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco):

Review from Virtual Ireland

Backup information on Robert Brennan, copied without permission for archival purposes only, from
Virtual Ireland.

IRELAND STANDING FIRM & EAMON DE VALERA, A Memoir by Robert Brennan (1881-1964)

Two memoirs written in the late 1950s by Robert Brennan, a republican activist in the early years of the twentieth century, journalist and close associate of Eamon de Valera.Ireland Standing Firm is a frank and pungent account of Robert Brennan’s time as Irish Minister (in effect Irish Ambassador) in Washington immediately before and during the Second World War. Brennan gives a fascinating account of his efforts in defending Irish neutrality and his meetings with leading American officials and politicians, including Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In the second memoir, Eamon de Valera, Brennan describes his close association with Eamon de Valera from their first meeting in prison in 1917 until de Valera’s retirement as Taoiseach in 1959.

Brennan is an entertaining writer and these memoirs were originally written for publication in the Irish Press newspaper in the 1950s.

THE AUTHOR Robert Brennan (1881-1964) was born in Wexford and worked as a surveyor, journalist and writer before joining Sinn Féin. He was the first Managing Editor of the Irish Press newspaper and was appointed by de Valera as Secretary of the Irish Legation and later Minister in Washington (1934-47). After his return from Washington he was Director of Radio Éireann.

Review from Emigrant Online

Backup information on Robert Brennan, copied without permission for archival purposes only, from Emigrant Online

Ireland Standing Firm & Eamon De Valera: A Memoir

By Robert Brennan

These two works are taken from articles published in the late 1950s
in the Irish Press and give a fascinating insight into 20th century
politics in Ireland from a man who was always close to the centre.
“Ireland Standing Firm” deals with Robert Brennan’s years as Irish
Minister in Washington, a period which coincided with the Second
World War. Brennan’s reminiscences focus on the efforts required to
maintain Ireland’s neutrality in the face of enormous pressure from
both Britain and the United States. The second section, the memoir
of Eamon de Valera, is written from the viewpoint of one who had been
close to the leader since 1916 and who obviously held him in high
esteem. He follows de Valera’s career through to 1958 and highlights
his speech to the League of Nations in 1932, going so far as to claim
that, had he been listened to, the world might have been spared the
horror of World War II. In giving a number of examples of Dev’s
integrity and honesty the author lays the basis for his final
summation, that de Valera was “the greatest political genius –
perhaps the greatest statesman – which our country has ever

Reviewed by Pauline Ferrie

ISBN: 1-900621-68-1
Price: € 18.00
Pages: 182
Publisher: UCD Press
Date reviewed: 2002/02

Document from Université de Genève

Backup information on Robert Brennan, copied without permission for archival purposes only, from the Université de Genève

This appears to be a short biography of someone with the same name, also from Wexford. If you can translate this, please let me know. (see also this rough translation, until someone comes along)

Robert Brennan


Brennan est originaire de Wexford. Il est journaliste. Durant les Pâques sanglantes de 1916, il occupe Wexford avec 600 hommes, en tant que commandant des Irish Volunteers. Condamné à mort, Brennan voit sa peine commuée à la réclusion à perpétuité. Il est relâché lors de l’amnistie générale en 1917. Dès janvier 1919, il travaille à l’organisation du département des Affaires extérieures du gouvernement parallèle sinn feiner. C’est lui, par exemple, qui remplace Fitzgerald comme ministre de la Propagande lorsque ce dernier est emprisonné. Après le Traité du 6 décembre 1921, Brennan s’engage dans le camp républicain durant la guerre civile. Il refuse alors le poste de Secrétaire du Département des Affaires Etrangères.
Brennan est le directeur de 1920 à 1934 du journal créé par de Valera, The Irish Press, puis entre au service diplomatique lorsque le Fianna Fáil accède au pouvoir. Directeur de Broadcasting de 1947-48. Publie diverses pièces, histoires et son autobiographie, Allegiance (1950).

Briollay, L’Irlande insurgée.
Childers, La Terreur militaire en Irlande.
Brennan vit on the run et son épouse est victime de brutalités des soldats anglais.

Robert Brennan: Biographical Note

Backup information on Robert Brennan, from Robert Brennan and Maeve Brennan Papers in Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library, March 2002, copied here for archival purposes only.

Biographical Note

Robert Brennan was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1881. Brennan was trained as a
surveyor and was employed in the early part of his career as a surveyor with the Wexford County
Council. He subsequently became a journalist and joined the staff of the Enniscorthy Echo.

Brennan was active in local and national politics. He helped organize militia volunteers
in Wexford and was quartermaster of the local Brigade. He participated in the 1916 Rising and
was sentenced to death; the sentence was commuted, however, and Brennan was imprisoned
briefly in Dartmoor Prison. Following his release from prison, Brennan continued his political
activity, which resulted in a second imprisonment in Cork Jail in 1917.

By 1918 Brennan was active with organizers for Sinn Fein and was Director of Elections
in the 1918 General Election. Brennan was arrested and imprisoned once more in 1920, but his
political career continued to flourish. Following service as Irish Under-Secretary for Foreign
Affairs, he became director of publicity for the Republican Forces during the Irish Civil War.

Brennan helped found The Irish Press and served as general manager from 1930 until
1934, when he was appointed Secretary to the Irish Legation in Washington. In 1938 Brennan
was appointed Charge d’Affaires and in August of that year became Irish Minister in
Washington. In 1947 Brennan returned to Ireland to assume the position of Director of
Broadcasting at Radio Eirann. Brennan retired from that position in 1948.

Following his retirement Brennan wrote extensively and produced fiction, including
novels, short stories, and mysteries, plays, and essays. Brennan’s best-known works include the
novel The Man Who Walked Like a Dancer (1951), and the play Good Night Mr. O’Donnell
(1951). Brennan’s autobiography Allegiance, was published in 1950. Much of Brennan’s writing
remains unpublished. Robert Brennan died in Ireland in 1964.

Maeve Brennan was born in Dublin, Ireland, on January 6, 1917. She moved to the
United States when her father, Robert Brennan, was appointed Secretary to the Irish Legation in
1934. During the 1940s Brennan worked for Harper’s Bazaar and subsequently joined the staff
of The New Yorker. She was married to her fellow New Yorker writer St. Clair McKelway, but
the marriage ended in divorce.

Brennan wrote a substantial number of stories, essays, and short casual pieces which were
published in The New Yorker, often under the pen name “The Long-Winded Lady.” Brennan had
several collections of her stories published including In and Out of Never-Never Land (1969),
The Long-Winded Lady (1969), and Christmas Eve (1974). Maeve Brennan died in New York
City in 1993.

Admiration of Dev in Brennan’s Words

Backup information on Robert Brennan, from the Enniscorthy Echo, January 2000. Copied here with permission of the author, re-typed from a photocopy. Errors are likely my typos. -Steven

Admiration of Dev in Brennan’s words

Dan Walsh, In Our Time

Normally at this time of year there is the quiet post-Christmas famine in the publishing business. But like the mild winter we are all enjoying, the joy of two new books will brighten up the months ahead.

Bob Brennan is a Wexford-born writer, diplomat and patriot who is well remembered in his native county, mainly through the publication of his autobiography Allegiance, which was published in Dublin in 1950, and recounts his accidental discovery of the Gaelic Revival movement and his meeting with Douglas Hyde.

But very shortly a renewed interest in the life and work of Brennan will emerge. Two of his manuscripts, which were serialized in the Irish Press between 1956 and 1958, are about to be published and launched in the next few weeks.

This is an exciting prospect in publishing and the work is sure to get a great reception from non-fiction readers. Already the writings of Bob’s famous literary daughter, Maeve Brennan, is receiving renewed attention and her novel ‘The Visitor’ is getting rave reviews.

Brennan was born in Wexford town on July 22nd 1881, married Una Bolger of Coolnaboy, Oylegate on May 6th 1909, and was a reporter with the Echo from 1909 until 1918.

After leading the 1915 Easter Rising in Wexford, he was imprisoned at various intervals over the next three years, and at one stage in 1917 he went on hunger strike in Cork Prison, and three years later Eamon de Valera appointed Brennan as Under Secretary for External Affairs for Dail Eireann.

Brennan came to admire de Valera. And the story will be told soon with the publication of Eamon de Valera; A Memoir. The original was written for the Irish Press, probably in 1958.

Bothered by the worsening vision, de Valera was about to step down as Taoiseach. Shortly after the memoir appeared, de Valera became President of Ireland, but in the interim Brennan felt compelled to write a memoir justifying his mentor’s achievement on behalf of Ireland.

Brennan’s memoir of Dev makes no effort at objective history. Instead it offers us a glimpse of Dev in times of crisis, anecdotal evidence of his political genius, of his absolute devotion to the cause of Irish independence, and of Brennan’s warm admiration for the man.

Here we see important decisions that de Velara made at moments when those who did not know him misunderstood him. Brennan writes as a friend, a colleague, and as a loyal supporter, not as a political analyst.

Whatever Eamon de Valera’s final position is in the judgement of historians, no one can doubt the allegiance and the loyalty that Brennan shows in the book.

Brennan became General Manager of the Irish Press in 1931. Many of his achievements were in no small way influenced by de Valera while the great Statesman was in the ascendancy.

Having been appointed to the Irish Legation in Washington in 1934, four years later he was appointed Irish Minister to the United States. In 1947, on his return to Dublin, he became Director of Radio Eireann.

The second book about to be published is called Ireland Standing Firm; My Wartime Mission in Washington that was serialized in the Irish Press during April and May of 1958.

Early during the 1939-’45 war, Sir Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt tried to pressure Ireland into joining the alliance against Germany, Italy and Japan, but Brennan, upon instruction from his government, resisted.

In 1942 Brennan vigorously protested against the stationing of American troops in Derry. He found himself in a difficult position during wartime, and now the book tells the story.

In the next few weeks the name of Bob Brennan is about to find new support. A chapter of history in the foundation days of the State are about to be unfolded before a new readership.

Bob’s daughter, Maeve, who was a brilliant writer in her own right, is also hitting the headlines. So, perhaps, the future is beginning to reflect on a family that achieved so much literary acclaim in the past.

Maeve Brennan died in 1993 aged 76 years. Her father left his legacy on November 13th 1964. both are dead, neither is forgotten. In Bob’s case the next few weeks will reawaken his memory.

In the introduction to the publication, Richard H. Rupp, poses a few worthwhile suggestions. “Perhaps Robert Brennan himself is due a reassessment”, he writes.

“A modest monument to his memory in Wexford would be a good place to start. I have enjoyed getting to know the man through his work, and I hope that you will too”, the introduction tells us.

And so say all of us. In its centenary year, perhaps, Echo Group of Newspapers is the place to start in encouraging a public monument to Bob Brennan, once an employee, albeit under different management in different times, but not only did he assist in securing the future of the country, but on a personal level he rose to astonishing heights in the newspaper industry and in the diplomatic corps.

Roddy Doyle Launching New Book

Roddy Doyle
will be launching Robert Brennan‘s book
in Wexford on 22nd March.

Ireland Standing Firm
Eamonn de Valera, a memoir

by Robert Brennan.
Editor Richard Rupp.

Published by UCD (University College Dublin Press) Dublin.

It is available for order via

Synopsis (from the site)
“Two memoirs written in the late 1950s by Robert Brennan, a republican activist in the early years of the twentieth century, journalist and close associate of Eamon de Valera. “Ireland Standing Firm” is a frank and pungent account of Robert Brennan’s time as Irish Minister (in effect Irish Ambassador) in Washington immediately before and during the World War II. Brennan provides an account of his efforts in defending Irish neutrality and his meetings with leading American officials and politicians, including Franklin D. Roosevelt. In the second memoir, Brennan describes his close association with Eamon de Valera from their first meeting in prison in 1917 until de Valera’s retirement as Taoiseach in 1959.”