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Sunday, August 26, 2012

An Gorta Mόr

Quinnipiac announces Ireland’s Great Hunger Museum opening Sept. 28
Quinnipiac President John L. Lahey today announced Ireland's Great Hunger Museum at 3011 Whitney Avenue, near the University's campuses in Hamden, will open and be officially dedicated at an invitation-only ceremony on Friday, Sept. 28.

Lahey made the announcement at a July 12 dinner to honor DruidMurphy's acclaimed production for the Lincoln Center Festival of Tom Murphy's "Famine" at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater, John Jay College. Quinnipiac co-sponsored the production.

"Museam An Ghorta Mór: Ireland's Great Hunger Museum is home to the world's largest collection of visual art, artifacts and printed materials relating to the starvation and forced emigration that occurred throughout Ireland from 1845 to 1852," said Lahey, who has been widely‐honored for his visionary leadership in assembling the collection, begun in 1997 when he was grand marshal of the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade. The Consulate General of Ireland exhibited the collection in 2010.

The collection focuses on the famine years when blight destroyed virtually all of Ireland's potato crops for consecutive years. The crop destruction, coupled with British governmental indifference to the plight of the Irish, who at the time were part of the United Kingdom, resulted in the deaths of 1.5 million Irish men, women and children and the emigration of more than two million to nations around the world. This tragedy occurred even though there was more than adequate food in the country to feed its starving populace. Exports of food and livestock from Ireland actually increased during the years of the Great Hunger.

Works by noted contemporary Irish artists will be featured at the museum, including internationally‐known sculptors John Behan (Famine Ship, the Irish national famine memorial), Eamonn O'Doherty (Westchester famine memorial) and Rowan Gillespie; as well as contemporary visual artists, Brian Maguire, Hughie O'Donoghue, Robert Ballagh and Alanna O'Kelly. Featured paintings will also include several important 19th and 20th‐century works by artists such as Jack B. Yeats, James Brenan, James Arthur O'Connor and Daniel MacDonald.

The museum will preserve, build and present its art collection in order to stimulate reflection, inspire imagination and advance awareness of Ireland's Great Hunger and its long afterlife on both sides of the Atlantic.

Museum programs, including tours of the collection, discussions, films, plays and concerts, will educate the general public, academics, researchers, artists and students about the richness of Irish culture and the high quality of its visual arts in particular.

The museum will offer a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the largely unrepresented, unspoken and unresolved causes and consequences of the Great Hunger, this tragedy, as well as to appreciate the art that it continues to inspire.

A week‐long program of cultural and academic events culminating in a Dedication Day on Friday, Sept. 28 will mark the museum's official opening.

"The building, which houses our new museum, was purchased after the success of the New York show and dates from the late 19th century when it was originally used as Hamden's first free public library," Dr. Lahey said. "After some significant renovation, it's perfect for its new use, and we very much look forward to presenting it to the world."

Quinnipiac University • 275 Mount Carmel Ave. • Hamden, CT 06518-1908 • 203-582-8200


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - James J. Collins

James J. Collins (30 October 1900 – 1 September 1967) was an Irish politician. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Limerick West constituency at the 1948 general election and at each election until his death in 1967. He was succeeded in the by-election of November 1967 by his son Gerry Collins. Another son, Michael J. Collins was later elected for the same constituency.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Thomas Francis O'Higgins Jr.

Thomas Francis O'Higgins (23 July 1916 – 25 February 2003) was an Irish Fine Gael politician, barrister and judge, who was Chief Justice of Ireland and a member of the European Court of Justice.

Tom O'Higgins was born in Cork in 1916, and came from the influential political family of O'Higgins. He was the son of Thomas F. O'Higgins and the nephew of Kevin O'Higgins. He was educated at St Mary's College, Dublin, Clongowes Wood College and University College Dublin where he became auditor of the Literary and Historical Society. He later attended the King's Inns. In 1938 he qualified as a barrister and was called to the Bar. In 1954 he was called to the Inner Bar.

O'Higgins was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Leix–Offaly constituency at the 1948 general election. On the same day his brother, Michael O'Higgins, was also elected. In the Second Inter-Party Government (1954–57) O'Higgins was appointed Minister for Health. During his period as Minister for Health he introduced the Voluntary Health Insurance Board (VHI). During the 1960s O'Higgins worked closely with Garret FitzGerald and Declan Costello in re-shaping Fine Gael. O'Higgins was chosen as the Fine Gael candidate in the 1966 presidential election. He faced the incumbent President and Fianna Fáil candidate Éamon de Valera. O'Higgins came within 1% of beating de Valera, which was much better than he had hoped.

In 1973, O'Higgins was again chosen as the Fine Gael candidate in the presidential election. This time he faced former Fianna Fáil Tánaiste and minister, Erskine H. Childers. Childers was elected by 635,867 votes to 578,771.

Shortly afterwards O'Higgins was appointed a High Court judge; and in 1974, after the sudden death of William FitzGerald, O'Higgins, although the most junior High Court judge, was chosen to replace him as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. After the sudden death of Erskine H. Childers, O'Higgins, in his role as Chief Justice swore in Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh as President of Ireland. He was Chief Justice until 1985 when he was appointed a Judge of the European Court of Justice. He remained there until 1991.

O'Higgins died on 25 February 2003 at the age of 86.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - (Hugh) Gerard Sweetman

(Hugh) Gerard Sweetman (10 June 1908 – 28 January 1970) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and solicitor.

Hugh Gerard Sweetman was born on 10 June 1908 to a comfortably well-off Dublin family. His father James Sweetman was a practicing barrister, and the family's return for the 1911 census shows that they enjoyed the presence of three servants at their Lower Baggot Street home.

The Sweetmans were no strangers to Irish politics. James' brother, Roger Sweetman, was elected to the First Dáil representing Wexford North, and was one of the first TDs to publicly call for a negotiated settlement to the Irish War of Independence.

Gerard was educated at the Beaumont School in Britain, which may go some way towards describing his particularly un-Kildare accent. He completed his studies at Trinity College, Dublin and went on to qualify as a solicitor in 1930.

Three weeks after his 29th birthday, Gerard Sweetman contested the 1937 general election. His target was the four-seater Carlow–Kildare constituency. Out of a field of 7 candidates, Sweetman came sixth with 8.5% of the vote.

He did not contest the 1938 general election, but ran again in 1943, and once again failed to secure election. He secured a Seanad seat in weeks that followed, and remained in the upper house through the 1944 election, until finally, with the creation of a separate Kildare constituency, he won a Dáil seat at the 1948 general election.

The 1948 general election returned the first inter-party government under Taoiseach John A. Costello. This coalition represented an 'anybody-but-Fianna-Fáil' gathering from across the political spectrum, and the newest Kildare TD sat on the backbenches until the government fell in 1951.

A second inter-party government took office in June 1954 with Sweetman promoted to Minister for Finance.

In Professor Tom Garvin's review of the 1950s 'News from a New Republic', he comes in for praise as a moderniser and Garvin places him with a cross party group including Daniel Morrissey of Fine Gael and William Norton of the Labour Party as well as Sean Lemass of Fianna Fáil who were pushing a modernising agenda.

Sweetman also served as a member of Kildare County Council, including a term as chairman of the Council in the late 1940s.

He was now 45 years old, and he inherited a national economy that was in crisis. Unemployment was at 421,000; over 100,000 people had left agriculture during the previous 8 years; the country was seeing a level of emigration unknown since the famine.

Sweetman differed in his thinking from the staid protectionist policies espoused by Éamon de Valera since the 1930s. Rather than focussing on a self-sufficient Ireland, Sweetman enacted policies that would make Ireland a net exporter.

In his first budget in 1955, he introduced a thoroughly modern scheme whereby a tax exemption was provided for exported goods. He also established the Prize Bonds programme as a means of covering the national debt. This debt was worrying in the mid-50s. Two major bond issues were placed during Sweetman's tenure for £20 million and £12 million. These were huge sums at a time when an average worker entered the tax net with an annual salary of just £533.

However, Sweetman's greatest initiative as Minister was the appointment of another young man of talent and vision. On 30 May 1956, he elevated a 39 year old civil servant named Ken Whitaker to the position of Secretary-General of the Department of Finance. This was a revolutionary step, as it did not follow the convention of promotion based on time served.

Whittaker's time at the Department has been seen as absolutely instrumental in the economic development of the country, indeed a 2001 RTÉ contest named him 'Irishman of the 20th Century'.

Whittaker was inherited by the new FF government elected in 1957, and his seminal “First Programme for Economic Expansion” published in 1958 laid the foundations for economic growth in the 1960s.

 For Sweetman, this brief period of government was not to be repeated and he would remain in opposition for the rest of his life.

During the 1960s, Fine Gael itself witnessed a major transformation. The decade began with a new leader, James Dillon, and a renewed focus on making the party relevant.

This internal revolution culminated in the 'Just Society' document produced by Declan Costello. The distinctly social democrat flavour of the document was very much at odds with Sweetman's deeply conservative views. However, the support of Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald ensured that the document was adopted as the party's manifesto for the 1965 general election.

In his last election, in June 1969, Sweetman was again returned to the Dáil for a seventh successive term. His party colleagues on the ticket for that election included Nancy Moore, mother of Christy Moore. The election left only a handful of seats between Fianna Fáil and the opposition.

He was known for his high speed style of driving. The 28 January 1970 was a long day, which began with a return from a business meeting on the continent. On returning to Ireland, he had travelled down to Silvermines in Tipperary for another business meeting, and it was on the return journey that he lost control of his vehicle near Monasterevin in County Kildare and died.

Speaking at the first session of the Dáil that followed, Taoiseach Jack Lynch offered a sincere and moving tribute to the late Deputy. He spoke of a TD who "commanded respect and attention", especially in matters of finance; a "gifted parliamentarian who loved the cut-and-thrust of debate" and who was as "fair an opponent as he was formidable". He noted a career cut short: "Through his tragic and untimely death Dáil Éireann and Irish public life have suffered a grievous loss. That loss will be felt all the more because of his great impact on, and contribution to, Irish political life".

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Patrick Palmer

Patrick W. Palmer (died 21 March 1971) was an Irish Fine Gael politician. A national school teacher before entering politics, he was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry South constituency at the 1948 general election. He was re-elected at the 1951, 1954 and 1957 general elections. He retired from politics at the 1961 general election.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Rare Photograph of Michael Collins has been found

According to an article in, A rare photograph of Michael Collins has been found in the attic of a suburban Dublin home 90 years after the Irish leader's death.

According to the Irish Independent, the photo shows Collins officiating at the wedding of fellow IRA man Paddy O'Donoghue in June 1919, five months after the start of the War of Independence. Only two months before the picture was taken Collins had infiltrated Great Brunswick (Pearse) Street police barracks with his spy, Ned Broy. At the time of the photo, Collins was on the run with a £10,000 bounty on his head.

There are no copies of the photograph in the National Archive, and Adams, the prestigious auctioneers who run an annual sale of War of Independence memorabilia, told the Sunday Independent that they had never seen the photograph before.

Said valuer and memorabilia expert Kieran O'Boyle: "It's a lovely picture. Collins is fresh-faced and is not attempting to hide from the camera."

"One of the myths about Collins was that Dublin Castle had no photographs of him. They did, but they were of poor quality. They would have given their eye teeth for this."

"He was wanted dead or alive, so he was exceptionally braveand trustingto face a photographer's lens in this manner," said O'Boyle.

He added that Collins memorabilia is always in high demand. "In 2011, we sold an archive of Collins's handwritten letters to his sister Hannie for just over €240,000.

"This photo could potentially sell for thousands to the right collector."
Writer and broadcaster Dave Kenny discovered the rare photograph in an old sea-chest.

"I found it when I was going through my late father's papers. It's in great condition. What makes it so unique is that Collins is looking directly at the camerasomething he never did during the war period," said Kenny.

"In other photos, like the iconic one of Tom Barry's wedding at Vaughan's Hotel, Collins deliberately blurred his image by nodding his head."

"If the British had had a copy of this photo, then Collins wouldn't have lasted long on the streets of Dublin," he added. "He would have had to rethink his strategy of operating in the open.

"He could well have been captured and shot."

"Who knows how things might have panned out then? Would we have won our independence without Collins? Arguably yes, but at a much later date."

"On top of that, the groom was also wanted by the British. Paddy was the head of the IRA in Manchester and helped Eamon de Valera escape from Lincoln Gaol four months before the photo was taken. He later founded Shelbourne Park greyhound stadium."

The bride, Violet Gore, signed the photograph to Mr Kenny's grandmother, 'Gypsy' and her sister Maire Nic Shiubhlaigh. The Independent reports that the sisters were co-founders of The Abbey Theatre and ardent nationalists who saw action in 1916, with Maire leading Cumann na mBan under Thomas McDonagh and Gypsy carrying dispatches for Cathal Brugha.

"After the war, Maire married Collins's close friend and comrade Major General Bob Price. Bob had been director of organisation on the GHQ staff of the IRA. My great-grandfather -- who published the Irish War News for Pearse in 1916 -- was also friendly with Collins. They were both members of the IRB," said Kenny who is currently writing a book about his family.
The picture stayed in the possession of Mr Kenny's family throughout the War of Independence."

"It could have been discovered at any stage as the family home and printing business were constantly raided by the police. I like to imagine the Black and Tans ransacking their house in Glasthule, with Collins staring down at them from the wall."

Kenny decided to share the picture for the 90th anniversary of Beal na mBlath this week.

"It's a rare shot of our greatest national hero taking a day off from scrapping with the British Empire."

"I felt people should see it. I still haven't decided what to do with it though. I contacted the National Photographic Archive and they don't have a copy. I also brought it to Adams Auctioneers."

"They gave me a valuation which made my eyes water as it is, in effect, just an old wedding photograph."

"I wouldn't like to sell it, but if the right offer came in ... Either way, it was a lovely thing to find in the attic."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Robert Lahiffe

Robert Lahiffe (1911 – 8 March 1975) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and farmer. He served in the Oireachtas for 7 years as a Teachta Dála (TD), and then as a Senator for 8 years.

Lahiffe was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1948 general election as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Galway South constituency. He was defeated at the 1951 general election by Fine Gael's Patrick Cawley, but two years later was re-elected at a by-election in August 1953 following the death of Frank Fahy, a Fianna Fáil TD who as Ceann Comhairle had been returned unopposed in 1951. Lahiffe held the seat at the general election in 1954, but was ousted again at the 1957 general election. Fianna Fáil had run three candidates in three-seat constituency, and Lahiffe was beaten by his first-time running-mate Michael Carty.

He was then elected to the 9th Seanad by the Agricultural Panel, which re-elected him in 1961. However, he was defeated at the 1965 election to the 11th Seanad.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Michael F. Kitt

Michael F. Kitt, Snr (13 September 1914 – 24 December 1974) was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician and long-serving Teachta Dála (TD).

He was elected to Dáil Éireann for the first time at the 1948 general election for the Galway North constituency, but lost his seat at the 1951 general election, and failed to be elected again at the 1954 general election. Kitt was re-elected to Dáil Éireann for Galway North at the 1957 general election and at the next four general elections: for Galway East in 1961 and 1965, and for Galway North–East in 1969 and 1973.

In the wake of the Arms Crisis, in May 1970, Kitt was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Gaeltacht, serving in that position until 1973. He died in 1974, mid-way through the 20th Dáil.

His son, Michael P. Kitt was elected in the subsequent by-election. Kitt's other son, Tom, was a TD from 1987 to 2011. Kitt's daughter, Áine Brady, is also a member of Fianna Fáil and served in the Dáil from 2007 to 2011. Her husband, Gerard Brady, is a former TD.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Joseph Brennan

Joseph Patrick Brennan
Joseph Brennan (Clan na Poblachta)

Joseph Patrick Brennan (10 September 1889 – 4 May 1968) was an Irish Clann na Poblachta politician and medical doctor.

He was born in 1889 in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, U.S.. He was the son of Patrick Brennan and Julia O'Connor who married in Boston in 1888. He moved back from the US to his mother's native Knocknagoshel, County Kerry at around the age of six years. His father had received communication from his brothers in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia regarding the Gold Rush and decided to join them in Australia and made his fortune with his brothers in the drapery business. The Brennan Building still stands today in Hannan Street, Kalgoorlie. On his father's return to Ireland in either 1908 or 1912 he brought an estate called Delbrook Park in Dublin.

He was educated at Blackrock College and Rockwell College. He qualified as a doctor in 1917. He married Anne Elizabeth Bulloch in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1914. He entered the British Army in 1917 as a Medical officer serving in Egypt and Turkey.

He returned to Ireland around 1918 and became a General practitioner in Blackrock, County Dublin. He also became Coroner for South County Dublin. Brennan was also involved in the Republican movement sometime in 1918. He was Head of Medical Services during the Irish Civil War. During the civil war, a group of insurgents that included Brennan had occupied part of the Gresham Hotel in O'Connell Street and were holding out against the Free State army. Their position became untenable and the group decided to surrender. The surrender was underway but Cathal Brugha refused to surrender himself came out brandishing a revolver and was shot by the Free State troops. Brennan attended his wounds but Brugha died two days later.

He was Vice President of the Irish Christian Front which held its inaugural meeting at the Mansion House, Dublin on 22 August 1936. The Irish Independent invited the formation of a committee to make a decision to support pro-Franco citizens of Spain in their war effort. Support was also given by the Catholic Church.

Brennan was a founding member of Clann na Poblachta. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1948 general election as a Clann na Poblachta Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown constituency. He stood as a Labour Party candidate at the 1951 general election but was not re-elected. He also stood unsuccessfully as a Labour Party candidate at the 1954 general election.

He presided over the International Congress of Catholic Doctors which took place at University College Dublin in 1954. He was President of the Irish Bridge Union in 1955. He was elected as the first President of the Medico Legal Society of Ireland in 1956.
He is buried at Deans Grange Cemetery in Dublin.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Michael O'Higgins

Michael Joseph O'Higgins (1 November 1917 – 29 March 2005) was an Irish Fine Gael politician who served as a member of the Oireachtas for nearly thirty years.

O'Higgins was born in 1917 in County Kildare and educated at St Mary's College, Dublin, Clongowes Wood College and the Incorporated Law Society of Ireland. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála for the Dublin South–West constituency at the 1948 general election. He lost his seat at the 1951 general election but regained it again at the 1954 election.

O'Higgins retained his seat, representing the Wicklow constituency from the 1961 general election onwards, until losing it at the 1969 general election. He was a member of Dublin City Council from 1945 to 1955, and a member of Seanad Éireann from 1951 to 1954 and from 1969 to 1977 when he retired from politics. He served as leader of the Seanad from 1973 to 1977.

O'Higgins came from an Irish political family. His father was Thomas F. O'Higgins, a former leader of the Blueshirts and cabinet minister. His uncle was Kevin O'Higgins, the assassinated cabinet minister from the 1920s. O'Higgins's brother was Tom O'Higgins, a fellow TD and presidential candidate in 1966 and 1973. O'Higgins, his father, and his brother hold the distinction of all being elected members of the 13th Dáil in 1948.

He was married to Brigid Hogan-O'Higgins, also a Fine Gael TD. He married Brigid Hogan in 1958, one year after her election. They were the first married couple ever to be elected to the same Dáil. They had nine children. He died in 2005.

22 August 2012 - 90th Anniversary of the Death of Michael Collins

According to an article on Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny will become the first Irish leader to address the annual Michael Collins commemoration at Beal Na mBlath outside Cork today. Collins was just 31 when he was killed there in an ambush in August 1922. This year marks the 90th anniversary.

He died soon after the Irish Civil War erupted when he and his fellow leader Eamon De Valera split over the creation of the Irish Free State and the partition of Ireland.

Thousands are expected to attend and “Sliabh na mBan” the Rolls Royce armored car that bore Collins body back to Cork City will be driven to the site for the first time in 90 years.

Kenny will speak as a previously unseen contemporary account of the killing that changed the face of Ireland has come to light.

An internal IRA document that languished in the papers of Moss Twomey, a former IRA Chief of Staff, has been discovered by a historian Dr. Brian Hanley.

The document shows that the killing happened by chance as the IRA party that had been waiting for Collins had mostly withdrawn believing he was not coming.

Hanley will state in a new book that the account also proves that an astonishing lack of protection around Collins was the real cause of his death.
As Chief of Staff of the Irish army fighting a civil war in the aftermath of partition, he should have been much better protected.

It is believed to be the first immediate account of the ambush at Béal na mBláth.

It also disproves speculation that Collins was shot by one of his own officers.
Collins died on August 22, 1922 when his convoy was attacked by the IRA on a lonely stretch of road between the town of Bandon and Cork City. Beal na mBlath means “The Mouth of the Flowers.”

Earlier the Collins men had inadvertently tipped of their enemies when they asked directions from a local IRA sympathizer which set up the ambush on the return on the same route.

The Collins party was delayed and only five IRA men were left when Collins returned. It is believed that local IRA man Sonny O’Neill fired the fatal shot that killed Collins after twenty minutes of a gun battle.

To this day it is unknown why Collins did not just order the convoy to drive on rather than stop and fight. It is also unknown why he did not take shelter in the armored car that was part of his convoy but choose to shoot back from behind an ordinary touring car.

At the time of his death, he was engaged to Kitty Kiernan. A 1996 Hollywood film starring Liam Neeson as Michael Collins was a major hit.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Noël Browne

 The 1948 coalition cabinet after Mr John A Costello became the new Taoiseach in February. (Standing from left) D Morrissey, Minister for Industry and Commerce; J Everett, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs; P McGilligan, Minister for Finance; J Blowick, Minister for Lands; Gen. S MacEoin, Minister for Justice and James Dillon, Minister for Agriculture. (Seated, left to right): Dr Noel Browne, Minister for Health; Sean McBride, Minister for External Affairs; William Norton, Minister for Social Welfare; J A Costello; Gen. R Mulcahy, Minister for Education; Dr TF O'Higgins, Minister for Defence; T J Murphy, Minister for Local Government. 

Dr. Noël Browne

Noël Christopher Browne (20 December 1915 – 21 May 1997) was an Irish politician and doctor. He holds the distinction of being one of only five TDs to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil. His controversial Mother and Child Scheme in effect brought down the First Inter-Party Government of John A. Costello in 1951.

Browne was a well known but at times highly controversial public representative and managed to be a TD for five different political parties (two of which he co-founded). These were Clann na Poblachta (resigned), Fianna Fáil (expelled), National Progressive Democrats (co-founder), Labour Party (resigned) and the Socialist Labour Party (co-founder).

Noël Browne was born in Waterford and grew up in Derry, Athlone and Ballinrobe. His father worked as an inspector for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children and, partly as a result of this work, all of the Browne family became infected with tuberculosis. Both parents died of the disease during the 1920s, and several of Browne's siblings also succumbed. In 1929 he was admitted free of charge to St. Anthony's, a preparatory school in Eastbourne, England. He then won a scholarship to Beaumont College, the Jesuit public school near Old Windsor, Berkshire, where he befriended Neville Chance, a wealthy boy from Dublin. Neville's father, the eminent surgeon Arthur Chance (son of surgeon, Sir Arthur Chance), subsequently paid Browne's way through medical school at Trinity College, Dublin.

In 1940, while still a student, Browne suffered a serious resurgence of tuberculosis. His treatment at a sanatorium in Midhurst, Sussex was paid for by the Chance family. He recovered, passed his medical exams in 1942, and started his career as a medical intern at Dr Steevens' Hospital in Dublin. He subsequently worked in numerous sanatoria throughout Ireland and England, witnessing the ravages of the disease. He soon concluded that politics was the only way in which he could make an attack on the scourge of tuberculosis. Browne joined the new Irish republican party Clann na Poblachta and was elected to Dáil Éireann for the Dublin South–East constituency at the 1948 general election. To the surprise of many, party leader Seán MacBride picked Browne to be one of the party's two ministers in the Government. Browne became one of the few TDs appointed a minister on their first day in Dáil Éireann, when he was appointed Minister for Health.

A White Paper report on health had been prepared by the previous government, and resulted in the Health Act, 1947. In February 1948 Browne became Minister for Health and started the reforms advocated by the paper and introduced by the Act.

The health reform coincided with the development of a new vaccine and of new drugs (e.g. BCG and penicillin) that helped to treat a previously untreatable group of medical conditions. Browne introduced mass free screening for tuberculosis sufferers and sold department assets to finance his campaign. This, with the introduction of Streptomycin, helped dramatically reduce the incidence of tuberculosis in Ireland.

However, during his term as Minister for Health, Browne would come in conflict with the Catholic Church and the medical profession over the Mother and Child Scheme. This plan, also introduced by the 1947 Health Act, provided for free state-funded healthcare for all mothers and children aged under 16, with no means test, a move which was regarded as radical at the time in Ireland, but not in most of Europe. The Church ran most hospitals and resented the idea that a "public body" could run them as well.

Browne's resignation speech to the Dáil was made on 12 April 1951, giving his version of events. In particular he deplored that the government had passed on his Scheme to the Church for approval, taking care to describe it to the Church as his plan and not as government policy, giving him no option but to resign as minister. The Taoiseach, John A. Costello, immediately retorted that - ".. I have seldom listened to a statement in which there were so many—let me say it as charitably as possible—inaccuracies, misstatements and misrepresentations", and delivered his full reply several hours later.

The ultimate result of this conflict was to remove him from mainstream politics. He resigned with effect on 11 April 1951 as Minister for Health. Browne was even expelled from Clann na Poblachta, which was considered quite a radical party, and was re-elected to the Dáil as an Independent TD in the subsequent election. Browne had earlier also managed to disobey the Catholic hierarchy in 1949 when he was the only minister to attend the Church of Ireland funeral of Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland.

Although many viewed his Mother and Child Scheme as a failure, much of his required policies were eventually introduced by the following Fianna Fáil government. This incident involving Browne did, however, indicate the influence of the Catholic Church in Irish politics at the time.

In 1953 Browne joined Fianna Fáil but lost his Dáil seat at the 1954 general election and was later expelled from the party. At the 1957 general election he was re-elected as an Independent TD. In 1958 he founded the National Progressive Democrats with Jack McQuillan. Browne held on to his seat at the 1961 general election but in 1963 he and McQuillan joined the Labour Party, disbanding the National Progressive Democrats. 

However, Browne lost his seat at the 1965 general election. He was re-elected as a Labour Party TD at the 1969 general election. He failed to be nominated by the Labour Party for the 1973 general election but instead he won a seat in Seanad Éireann before being expelled from the Labour Party. He remained in the Seanad until the 1977 general election when he gained a Dáil seat as an Independent TD, before becoming involved in the Socialist Labour Party and was briefly its only TD. Browne retired from politics at the February 1982 general election.

 In 1990, a number of left wing representatives within the Labour Party, led by Michael D. Higgins, approached Browne and suggested that he should be the party's candidate fot the 1990 presidential election due later that year. Though in failing health Browne agreed. However the offer horrified party leader Dick Spring and his close associates for two reasons. Firstly the leadership had secretly decided to run former senator and barrister Mary Robinson. Secondly, many around Spring were "appalled" at the idea of running Browne, believing he had "little or no respect for the party" and "was likely in any event to self-destruct as a candidate." When Browne was informed by Spring by telephone that the party's Administrative Council had chosen Robinson over him, he hung up on him. He spent the remaining seven years of his life constantly criticising Robinson, who had gone on to win the election and become the seventh President of Ireland and was considered highly popular during her term. During the campaign he also indicated support for the rival Fine Gael candidate, Austin Currie.

Few figures in 20th century Ireland were as controversial as Noël Browne. To his supporters he was a dynamic liberal who stood up to conservative and reactionary Catholicism. To his opponents he was an unstable, temperamental and difficult individual who was the author of most of his own misfortune. Browne further alienated the middle ground in 1986 with the publishing of his autobiography Against the Tide. Historians like Dr. Ruth Barrington, who had written extensively about Irish health policy and had access to the files from the 1940s and 1950s, questioned the book's reliability.

Writing a decade later, one of the chief officials of the Labour Party, Fergus Finlay, said Browne had developed into a "bad tempered and curmudgeonly old man". Historian and political scientist Maurice Manning wrote that Browne "had the capacity to inspire fierce loyalty, but many of those who worked with and against him over the years found him difficult, self-centred, unwilling to accept the good faith of his opponents and often profoundly unfair in his intolerance of those who disagreed with him".

However some of this "difficulty" arose from the fact that Noël Browne was deaf in one ear from an infection several years previous. He also suffered numerous attacks of T.B. throughout his career, a fact which he kept private. However, he rarely showed this, unpleasant, side of himself to the public.

After retiring from Dáil Éireann, Browne retired to Baile na hAbhann, County Galway with his wife Phyllis, where he died on 21 May 1997 at age 81.

Members of the Thirteenth Dáil - Con Lehane

Con Lehane (1911 – 18 September 1983) was a left-wing nationalist, a 1930s member of the IRA Army Council, solicitor and politician. He was elected to Dáil Éireann as a Clann na Poblachta Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South–Central constituency at the 1948 general election. He lost his seat at the 1951 general election. He may have been the son of Socialist Party of Great Britain founder member Con Lehane (1877–1919).

Witness Statement of Captain Seán Prendergast

Statement of Captain Seán Prendergast.

Former Officer Commanding 'C' Company1st Battalion

Dublin Brigade Irish Volunteers and Irish Republican Army

Now of Upton Lodge. 30. Grace Park Terrace.

Drumcondra. Dublin.

Seán Heuston, the "Catholic Bulletin" wrote, was born in Dublin on 21st February, 1871; was educated at the Christian Brothers Schools, Great Strand Street and O'Connell Schools, North Richmond Street. In 1907 he secured an appointment as clerk in the Great Southern and Western Railway Company (now Córas Iompair Éireann) and was sent to Limerick. In 1910 he organised a sluagh of Na Fianna Éireann there. In 1913 he returned to Dublin and early in 1914 became Captain of the North City of the Fianna and in the same year became Captain of "D" Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers.

On Easter Monday, 1916, at the head of his Company, he seized the Mendicity Institute building on Usher's Island. After the surrender he was tried by courtmartial and executed on May 8th, 1916.

In his last letter, written to his sister, an Irish nun, he wrote:

Kilmainham Prison,


My dearest M,

Before this note reaches you I shall have fallen as a soldier in the cause of Irish freedom. I write to bid you a last farewell in this world and rely on you to pray fervently and get the prayers of the whole community for the repose of my soul. I am quite prepared for the journey; the priest was with me and I received Holy Communion this morning. It was only this evening that the finding of the courtmartial was conveyed to me.

Poor mother will miss me, but I feel, with God's help, she will manage. You know the Irish proverb: "God's help is nearer than the door". The agony of the last few days has been intense, but I now feel reconciled to God's Holy Will. I might have fallen in action, as many have done, and been less prepared for the journey before me. Do not blame me for the part I have taken as a soldier: I merely carried out the duties of my superiors, who have been in position to know what was best in Ireland's interests.

Let there be no talk of foolish enterprise. I have no vain regrets. Think of the thousands of Irishmen who fell fighting under another flag at the Dardanelles attempting to do what England's experts admit was an absolute impossibility. If you really love me, teach the children the History of their own land and teach them the cause of Caitlín Ní hUallacháin never dies. Ireland shall be free from the centre to the sea as soon as the people of Ireland believe in the necessity of Ireland's freedom and are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices to obtain it.

M, pray for me, and get everybody to pray for me.

Your loving brother,


Liam Staines, a member of F. Sluagh of the Fianna, serving under Captain Seán Heuston in the Mendicity, was severely wounded.

Cornelius Colbert, note the "Catholic Bulletin" was born at Monalena, Co. Limerick, in 1893, and educated at the Christian Brothers Schools, North Richmond Street, Dublin. He became one of the founder members of Na Fianna Éireann at its inception in 1909 in Dublin, being quickly promoted Captain of a Sluagh in which capacity he worked with incredible energy in imparting instruction to the boys under his charge, in signalling, scouting, etc. Later he became Captain of the Inchicore Company, Irish Volunteers. Pédraig Pearse always spoke of him as "Gallant Captain Colbert".

During the Rising of 1916 he commanded the garrison of Irish Volunteers at Marrowbone Lane area, taken prisoner at the surrender, he was executed on the 8th May, 1916.

On the Christmas previously he had written to a fair friend:

"May sharp swords fall on Ireland
May all her hills be rifle foe lined
May I be there to deal a blow
For Erin, Faith and womankind.
And may the song of battle soon
Be heard from every hill and vale
May I be with the marching men
Who fight to free our Gráinne Mhaol.
Ar son Éireann agus ar son Dé
Dílís bíomar bailighthe."

He concluded a letter written from Kilmainham to his sister on t he eve of his execution:

"Perhaps I'd never again get the chance of knowing when I was to die, and so I'll try and die well. I received this morning and hope to do so again before I die. Pray for me and ask Father Devine, Father Healy and Father O'Brien to say Mass for me, also any priests you know. May God help us - me to die well - you to bear your sorrow. I send you a prayer book as token."

"Con Colbert" said Éamon Ceannt, "abstained from meat all through Lent". Of his last moments, Father Augustine, O.F.M.Cap., wrote:

"While my left arm linked his right and while I was whispering something in his ear, at soldier approached to fix a piece of paper on his breast. While this was being done he looked down and then addressing the soldier in a cool and normal way said, "Wouldn't it be better to put it up higher, nearer the heart?" The soldier said something in reply and then added, "Give me your hand now". The prisoner secured, confused, and extended his left hand. "Not that" said the soldier, "but the right". The right was accordingly extended and having grasped and shaken it warmly, the kindly human-hearted soldier proceeded to gently bind the prisoner's hands and afterwards blind-folded him. Some minutes later my arm still linked to his, and. accompanied by another priest we entered the dark corridor leading to a yard and, his lips moving in prayer, the brave lad went forth to die".

He was second in command of the Marrowbone Lane garrison, taking charge of the surrender. I also include "New York American": In the Leading Article of May 13th, 1916, it wrote: "Thank God for Freedom Martyrs in every age and clime". 

Among Irishmen there were up to a few days ago, many who, if not loyal to England, were at least loyal to the cause of the Empire, and wished it to be victorious in its war. To-day we think that the Irishmen in America who are not burning with resentment against the British Empire and praying for its defeat and humiliation are very, very few indeed.

It was evident to any man of sense, the moment the British Government began the bloods work of reprisal upon the Irish prisoners of war, that it was making a blunder as stupid as it was. We hoped then that the outburst of horror in America as well as among humane Englishmen would open the eyes of the British Government and cause the shooting of British prisoners to cease. But the hope was disappointed.

The British Government has its military murderers steadily at work, and each day's cable has brought word of fresh executions, of killings, that would shame savages, of wounded and shot, shattered prisoners being propped up on their broken limbs long enough for their executioners to riddle again with bullets their poor mangled bodies.

No wonder that every Irish heart thirsts for vengeance - no wonder that the British propagandists who have prostituted American journalism and free speech to the unpatriotic abject of dragging their own country into the war to do England's fighting, have been shamed into temporary silence. We should think that even if these bootlickers, to say nothing of decent Englishmen, would blush to pronounce the name of Belgium again, would never open his mouth to talk of 'antracities' or 'humanities' again. With the blackened walls and tumbled ruins of Dublin echoing the volleys of firing squads, shooting down surrendered prisoners whose crime was to love their native land and yearn for its independence and liberty, we hope, for decency's sake, we shall hear no more snivelling in America over broken stained-glass or shattered statues in Rheims or Louvain.

With the blood of Irish prisoners and patriots reddening poor Ireland's soil in streams, we hope, also for decency's sake, that we shall hear no more of England's passionate and heroic sympathy for the rights and liberties of small peoples. With the spectacle of sorely wounded men propped up on their broken and shattered limbs to be shot to death, we hope, again for decency's sake, that there will be a final end of the cant about Britain waging war for humanity's sake. 

We trust that from Mr. Wilson down to the "Providence Journal" there will be an end to the snivel and cant and humbug which has been so effectively belied by the governmental and military reprisals and cruelties and murders in unhappy Ireland. We hope that the American people will never again be deluded to the point of willingness to waste American wealth and American blood in the contemptible role of cats-paws to pull England's chestnuts out of the fire and ashes of a selfish and unsuccessful war, fought under the pretence of the independence of little peoples and of the rights of neutrals and of the humanities.

Those Irish scholars, poets, patriots and martyrs for freedom's sake, whose mangled bodies lie in bloody graves in shot, riddled and flame-swept Dublin, are the witnesses who give the lie to all the cant and humbug that England's American tools and propagandists have dinned into American ears to win America to plunge into England's war In that sense these have done a noble service to America, as well as Ireland, by the sacrifice of their lives. 

In the very instant of their deaths America drew back from the insidious and unpatriotic propaganda of armed alliance with England. We are confident that from this on, that wicked and morally treasonable propaganda has no further power of mischief. The American people will never permit themselves to be dragged into Europe's war as the ally and saviour of the murders of Ireland's patriots and martyrs. The very stones in the streets would cry out against such an alliance with a government that has shot down men for doing exactly what our own forefathers did when they pledged. Their lives, their fortunes and their honour to the support of the Declaration of American Independence.

The signers of that Declaration would have met the same fate at the hands of the British Government that the signers of Ireland's Declaration of Independence have just met, had the British armies been able to overpower our forefathers in America. One could almost believe that those fathers of ours would rise from their graves to rebuke their degenerate sons who would ally themselves to the slayers of men who were brave enough and devoted enough to risk their lives and stake fortunes and their sacred honour in the great cause of human liberty.

The American who applauds the butcheries, the American who has no sympathy for these victims, the American whose heart does not go out in compassion for Ireland, and whose heart does not burn with indignation against those who have again trampled her liberties under foot, and poured out the blood of her children as a sacrifice to subjection and oppression is not fit to enjoy the liberties and to wear the bright badge of free citizenship which our forefathers gained for us with arms in their manly arms.

Thank God that such men are not many amongst us, that the degenerate crew is far more confident of its noise than its numbers.

Thank God, that the real heart of America beats true to the cause of human liberty everywhere, that it sympathises and applauds above the graves of Irish martyrs for freedom's dear and holy sake as warmly and as gratefully as it remembers and applauds above the graves of all those who on many fields of battle and through many years of agony and endurance bought with their blood their children's heritage of American freedom.

Thank God for freedom's soldiers and freedom's martyrs in every age and clime for Washington, for Tone, for Emmet, for Bolivar, for Lincoln, for Pearse and those who died with him.

And shame befall the false American who cannot repeat the Invocation to Freedom and to freedoms soldiers and martyrs with all his heart and with all his soul."

We compared notes with our confréres on the several aspects of the fight during Easter Week, and interesting ourselves in the individual narratives of the several participants of various commands and posts, kept ourselves from brooding too much over our then fate. That was easy with men of common interest and among those of identical points of view and outlook in life.

Of the many units of the Dublin Brigade our own First Battalion and "C" Company were very well represented in the two camps:

Our Company Adjutant John E. Lyons, his son, Charlie;
Sergeant M. Wilson;
Sergeant P. Byrne;
Frank McNally;
Seán Kennedy;
Seán Hynes;
Patrick O'Neill;
John Ellis;
Andy and John Birmingham;
Tom Cassidy;
Patrick Hughes;
Tommy Munroe;
Jack Richmond;
John Lynch;
Charlie Purcell;
Paddy Swan;
Seán Flood;
Joe Musgrave;
Joseph Bevan;
Seán Farrelly;
Mick and Frank O'Flanagan;
Mick Howlett;
Seumas Byrne;
Joe Kelly;
Jimmy McArdle
Patrick Byrne;
Frank Pollard;
Stephen Pollard;
P. Nevin;
Seán Quinn;
George Whelan;
Bob Lagget;
Joe Sweeney;
John Madden;
Joe McDonough.

All those had participated in the fight, most of them in the Four Courts, excepting Andy and John Birmingham, Patrick Hughes,J. Lynch, H. Manning, Charlie Purcell, John Madden.

Charlie Molphy, who served in the G.P.O. area. Very likely there were others of our Company who were prisoners, there, but the foregoing were men whom I was well acquainted with.

"C" Company, 1st Battalion, Dublin Brigade. Irish Volunteers.
List of Men who served in Easter Week. 1916: 
Four Courts Area.
1. Allen, Thomas, Sergeant; promoted Lieutenant.Killed in action.
2. Byrne, Patrick J.
3. Byrne, Patrick, Sergeant.
4. Byrne, Séamus
5. Bevan, Joseph, and his two sons
6. Bevan, Thomas
7. Bevan, Charles
8. Brabazon, Joseph wounded in action.
9. Bridgeman, Edward
10. Cassidy, Thomas
11. Clancy, Peadar, Lieutenant.
12. Cooling, Joseph
13. Cusack, John
14. Coyle, William
15. Dowling, Thomas
16. Derham, Michael
17. Ellis, John
18. Fahy, Frank, Captain.
19. Farrell, Michael
20. Farrelly, John
21. Fisher, John
22. Flood, Seán
23. Grimley, Michael
24. Hynes, John
25. Howlett, Michael
26. Holmes, Denis part of week.
27. Hendrick, Edward
28. Kennedy, Seán
29. Kavanagh, James
30. Kelly, Joseph
31. Kenny, John
32. Ledwith, Peter
33. Leggett, Robert
34 Lyons, John E., and his son, Adjutant.
35. Lyons, Charles
36. Macken, Patrick
37. Musgrave Joseph
38. Munroe, Thomas
39. McGuinness, Joseph, 1st Lieutenant.
40. McNally, Francis
41. McDonough, Joseph
42. McArdle, James, add his brother
43. McArdle, Patrick
44. McKeown, William
45. McDonnell, Thomas
46. Nevin, Patrick
47. O'Neill, Patrick
48. 0'Flanagan, Patrick killed in action
and his two brothers,
49. O'Flanagan, Michael
50. O'Flanagan, Frank
51. O'Brien, Patrick
52. 0'Brien, Jack
53. Pollard, Francis, and his brother
54. Pollard, Stephen
55. Plunkett, James wounded in action.
56. Prendergast, Seán
57. Quinn, Seán
58. Richmond, John
59. Reid, John, Sergeant.
60. Swan, Patrick
61. Scully, Micheál
62. Smart, Thomas
63. Sweeney, Joseph
64. Tobin, Liam
65. Walsh, Thomas
66. Wilson, Mark, Sergeant.
69. Whelan , George
70. Yourell, Thomas
Men of "C" Company in Other Posts.
71. Brooks, Fred Mendicity.
72. Birmingham, Andy, G.P.O.
and his brother
73. Birmingham, John G.P.O.
74. Hughes, Patrick G.P.O.
75. Keating, Con G.P.O.
76. Lynch, John G.P.O.
77. Molphy, Charles, G.P.O.
78. Manning, Henry (wounded) G.P.O.
79. Madden, John G.P.O.
80. McCrane, Thomas Jacobs.
81. Moore, Edward G.P.O.
82. Purcell, Charles G.P.O.
83. White, Michael G.P.O.

Men from Other Units included the following:
Operated in the Four Courts.
George O'Flanagan, 2nd Battalion (brother of Patrick, Michael and Frank).
Seán O'Carroll, of "D" Company, 1st Battalion.
Redmon4 Cox, of "A" Company, 1st Battalion.
Seán Farrell, Na Fianna Éireann.
Patrick Daly, Na Fianna Éireann.
Barney Mellows, Na Fianna Éireann,
Jack Murphy, of the 2nd Battalion.
Con O'Donovan sentenced to death, commuted to 8 years.
Edward Reyner, Fianna.
Patrick Mooney, 4th Battalion.
Arthur Merlan, 4th Battalion.
Ambrose Byrne, 4th Battalion.
Doyle 4th Battalion.
Larry Murtagh, Andy Dowling, 4th Battalion,

also civilians:
Mr. O'Neill, Shoemaker of Merchant's Quay.
John O'Brien, sentenced to death, commuted to 7 years.

Members of Cumann na mBan in the Four Courts.
(This list is incomplete)
Miss Molly Ennis.
Miss May Carron
Mrs. F. Faby (wife of Captain Frank Fahy)
(The foregoing list was compiled in later
years from, say 1934).

A lot of other information was gleaned concerning a number of our Company officers and men who had been court-martialled and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment.

Captain Frank Fahy, sentenced to death, commuted to penal servitude for 10 years.
Lieutenant Joseph McGuinness, sentenced to death, commuted to 10 years.
Sergeant-Major Jack Reid, sentenced to death, commuted to 10 years.
Lt. Peadar Clancy, 10 years, sentenced to death.
Liam Tobin, 10 years, sentenced to death.
Tommy Bevan, 10 years, sentenced to death.
Charlie Bevan (brother of Tommy), sentenced to death, commuted to years.
Tom Walsh, sentenced to death, 10 years.
Michael Scully, sentenced to 10 years.
Fred Brooks (who had fought in the Mendicity under Seán Heuston), sentenced to death, commuted to years.
Dr. Paddy McArdle.

Mention must be made here of some of our company casualties - two killed in action: Sergeant Tom Allen and Volunteer Patrick O'Flanagan; and wounded - Joe Brabazon, Jim Plunkett and Henry Manning. 

There were a number of men of whose participation in the Rising it was impossible at the time to ascertain, but according to the list then available, our Company had furnished a very large percentage of the effective strength of the Battalion.