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
Price: â‚¬ 18.00
Publisher: UCD Press
Date reviewed: 2002/02
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)
Brennan est originaire de Wexford. Il est journaliste. Durant les PÃ¢ques sanglantes de 1916, il occupe Wexford avec 600 hommes, en tant que commandant des Irish Volunteers. CondamnÃ© Ã mort, Brennan voit sa peine commuÃ©e Ã la rÃ©clusion Ã perpÃ©tuitÃ©. Il est relÃ¢chÃ© lors de l’amnistie gÃ©nÃ©rale en 1917. DÃ¨s janvier 1919, il travaille Ã l’organisation du dÃ©partement des Affaires extÃ©rieures du gouvernement parallÃ¨le sinn feiner. C’est lui, par exemple, qui remplace Fitzgerald comme ministre de la Propagande lorsque ce dernier est emprisonnÃ©. AprÃ¨s le TraitÃ© du 6 dÃ©cembre 1921, Brennan s’engage dans le camp rÃ©publicain durant la guerre civile. Il refuse alors le poste de SecrÃ©taire du DÃ©partement des Affaires EtrangÃ¨res.
Brennan est le directeur de 1920 Ã 1934 du journal crÃ©Ã© par de Valera, The Irish Press, puis entre au service diplomatique lorsque le Fianna FÃ¡il accÃ¨de au pouvoir. Directeur de Broadcasting de 1947-48. Publie diverses piÃ¨ces, histoires et son autobiographie, Allegiance (1950).
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 wordsDan 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.
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 Amazon.co.uk.
Synopsis (from the amazon.co.uk 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.”
Today is “Scout Sunday” at our church, a day on which we recognise the church’s support of the scouting units they charter. We also show off a little, to help remind the members of the church that the scouting movement’s alive and well in their community and is serving them (as well as providing a good program to the boys). We wear our uniforms to Mass (this is a Roman Catholic church) and I gave a short talk. I’m recording it here for any other scout leaders to use as a basis for a similar speech if they’d like. All I ask is that you drop me an email letting me know:
Good morning. My name is Steven Vore, I am a member of the Boy Scouts of America, Atlanta Area Council’s North Fulton district, and I am a member of St. Thomas Aquinas.
St. Thomas Aquinas church sponsors Cub Scout Pack 69 and Boy Scout Troop 841, and for that we thank Father Al, all the priests, and the church leadership.
For over 90 years no, the Boy Scouts of America has taught young men to be first class citizins and has trained them to become leaders in all parts of our society. They have done this by teaching young men to “…do their best to do their duty to God and Country.” Please note that duty to God is the first goal in the Scout Oath. This is because we, as scouts, recognize that none of us can grow into the best kind of citizin without recognizing our obligation to God.
The scouting program here at St. Thomas Aquinas is a full one, with outings, camping, fun and adventure. The scouts also serve the parish. Last monday, the Cub Scout delivered over 700 items of food – that they collected themselves – to the St. Vincent dePaul society. Scouts can be seen as alter servers, in the choir groups, and in other parish programs. The new benches in the outdoor play area were constructed by scouts as part of an Eagle Scout project. And as you sing with our choir, the hymnals you hold in your hands are this year’s edition because scouts were here on Thanksgiving weekend, switching out the old books for new ones.
I could give you numbers and statistics about the influence of the Boy Scout movement on our society – the high percentage of government, military, and business leaders who have been Boy Scouts, and how many have earned the Eagle Scout rank – Boy Scouting’s highest award. I could tell you interesting facts; every man who’s walked on the moon was a Boy Scout.
But instead I’d like to show the influence of scouting right here, and recognize those of you who are now or have been at some time committed to Boy Scouting.
Would all those who have earned the Eagle Scout Rank – Boy Scouting’s highest award, please stand and remain standing.
On the 23rd we will be celebrating the accomplishments of four new Eagles right here in our own parish.
Would all current Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Cub Scout leaders and Boy Scout leaders please stand?
And would all those who have in the past been Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts, and all those who were parents of Cub and Boy Scouts please stand.
(applause. at this point over half of the congregation was on their feet.)
You can see that the impact Scouting has on our community is widespread.
Thank you all.
Again I wish to express the troop’s and pack’s appreciation to the congregation for their support of scouting, and we look forward to future years of service to this church and our community. Thank You.
Steven Vore, 3-Feb-2002
Thanks to Peter Voorhees, author of a similar talk in a previous year, for allowing me to use his as a basis for mine.
Last week I mentioned the importance of good “metrics” when managing Knowledge Workers. This week that came home to roost, as I had to provide input for yearly performance reviews on individuals, managers, and groups.
Since the beginning of our KM journey, we’ve been talking about the behaviors we want to encourage. Sharing of knowledge (creating solutions). Reusing othersâ€™ solutions. Updating existing solutions. In the western statistics-driven society, the question becomes how to best do that without doing more harm than good.
If you reward sharing by counting the number of solutions created, then people will just create lots â€“ and weâ€™ve found time and time again that results in “a big pile of useless junk” and a knowledgebase full of duplicate solutions. It didnâ€™t matter that the answer was already there; folks felt they had to create their own copy. Needless to say, this makes updating information an impossible task.
If you just measure the number of times that employees reuse an existing solution (provided that your tools allow you to do so), theyâ€™ll be tempted to just click the button to get pointsâ€¦ even if that solution didnâ€™t help them. If they know the answer but donâ€™t see it quickly enough in a knowledgebase, theyâ€™ll click anyway.
If editing of existing solutions becomes the primary metric then folks will be tempted to edit just for editingâ€™s sake, to get into “a style contest.” Weâ€™ve seen cases where someone claimed that everything in the knowledge base was wrong â€“ absolutely wrong. What he really meant, when we got down to it, was that the solutions werenâ€™t written the way he would have written them.
Weâ€™ve settled on using a percentage, attempting to measure how often our knowledge workers use the knowledge effectively. We divide the number of times that any of the above activities are performed by the number of problems they solve. In a perfect world, every problem would either be in the knowledge base already (reuse it), be there but not quite be complete (update it), or be brand new (create a solution).
This week, as I said, we “ran the numbers” for the past few weeks and months on all the individuals. We also looked at groups as a whole and at their managers and coaches. How did they fare? As with anything done by humans, of course, there was a variety in the level of performance. I was pleased to see, though, that there were very few individuals who over-did one aspect of the job â€“ in other words our lack of emphasis on any one of the above three areas worked.
By the way, please don’t think I’m saying that these numbers are the be-all and end-all of the yearly evaluation. They are just one part of our input to the managers; we also discuss attitude, non-measurable contributions, and other topics.
As I mentioned, we donâ€™t just measure individuals, we look at groups as a whole and the managers & coaches. Iâ€™ll talk more about that in my next article.
…plans to implement knowledge management often require prior exercises in changing corporate culture, moving employees from a gatekeeper culture, where knowledge is kept hidden and produced only when it can enhance the employeeâ€™s value, to a sharing culture, where knowledge sharing is encouraged and rewarded.
This is absolutely true, without a doubt. The other half of my job (when I’m not being a Perl programmer) is bringing teams in my company into the Knowledge-Centered world. Over and over we see groups – managers of groups, really – take the “tool” approach. “It’s just a tool, we can give 20 minutes of training and they’ll be ready.”
Bzzzt. Wrong answer.
Just as installing Excel won’t make me an accountant, installing a KM application won’t give me the skills and culture that are needed to truely share knowledge. Neither will simply handing them a weblogging tool, I’m afraid.
For employees to really share their knowledge requires some “cultural” properties not present in most companies:
- Everyone needs to realize that sharing of knowledge is not only of value for the company but also to themselves, and that sharing what you know is more important than the knowledge itself. In most situations, we’re valued for what we have and what we know. If you want to know how to work the frumple machine, you need to come ask me. That makes me feel important, valued. And I know that I won’t be fired because of that knowledge – if you let me go then the frumple will never work properly again.
- They need to be recognized for the contribution their sharing makes. If I share some knowledge about frumpling with you, then you get a bonus because you’re more productive… I’m never going to share with you again. You got the brownie for my effort and I’m not gonna let myself get burnt by that twice.This almost always means that “metrics” need to change. If you’re in a helpdesk or call center, for example, and you’re measuring your people on the number of calls they’re taking, that’s what they’re going to do – take calls. If you want them to share what they’re learning from those calls, you need to find a way to measure them on it. Don’t, though, just fall into the trap of measuring them on the numer of “solutions” they capture. That’s a great way to fill a database with useless information. Defining metrics is one of the most difficult parts of the whole task.
More on this later. (Later came on 2002-01-26)
Good morning, world. This is the obligatory “first post.”