IRA Volunteer Francis Brennan – any info?

Francis (”Terry”) Brennan (1900-1955); born in Finglas; was a member of the Fingal Brigade and Leixlip Flying Column.  Sadly all that we know regarding his activities during that time is based upon a copy of his obituary (please find attached a copy.  I have also attached a copy of a letter that was associated with the obituary clipping; it appears to be a response to Francis, from his old commander (Paddy Mullany), regarding his eligibility for a veteran’s pension (attached).  The letter refers to actions at Lucan, Baldonell and attacks on “the railways”.  I would love to find any information on the flying column or the Fingal brigade.  I have been unable to figure out which hunger strike the obituary refers to.  I’ve been in touch with Kilmainham but they have been unable to find any records that could assist and they are also unaware of the tunnelling attempt mentioned.  They do know that attempts were made but have no details upon them.  After the War of Independence Francis (and probably Ann) went on to fight on the anti-treaty side.  I believe that the time Francis spent in Kilmainham would have been at the end of the Civil War.

Francis’ wife, Ann Brennan (nee O’Shaunessy) (1904-1972) was, according to what is told in the family, an active member of the Cumann na mBan and it was always said within the family that she was involved in gun running, arms caches and safe houses during the black and tan war.

They both lived all their lives in Finglas.  Sadly Francis died in 1955 when their son Denis (my father in law) was only 10, so he never got to find out what his father had done during that time.  His mother never really spoke much about that.  We’ve applied to the pensions and records department of the ministry of defence are waiting for a response.

We’ve only made slow progress in piecing together Francis’ and Ann’s history during those times; there is so very little information that can be accessed over the internet from here.  I understand that there may be a group that is involved in the history of the Old IRA, but as yet, i can’t make contact with them.

It would be wonderful if any of your readers could fill in a few blanks.  We’d love to know more about:

  • the activities of the 3rd Battalion, Fingal Brigade, IRA and the Leixlip Flying Column;
  • any information on the kilmainham hunger strikes during the civil war era;
  • and the biggest puzzle of all, the Kilmainham tunnel – we’ve been in touch with Kilmainham but they have no records of a tunnelling attempt by men from either the black and tan war or the civil war era (there was an attempt by civil war era women).  They freely admit that it doesn’t mean there wasn’t one, just that the records are very incomplete for that time.  Kilmainham would be very interested in any information that turns up about the tunnel as it would really add to their knowledge of the era.  So hopefully someone out there may have heard of it, read of it somewhere or know something however small.

We’re waiting for information from the pensions and records dept. so hopefully there will be a lot of information contained within the pension applications of both Francis and Ann.  I’ve promised Kilmainham that if there is any more information on the tunnel that i’ll share it with them.

Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Letter to Francis Terry Brennan

Obituary of Francis Terry Brennan

11 replies
  1. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    Hello, and thank you; i would love to check the national archives witness statements but sadly i’m based in Australia so it might not happen any time soon (though with the weather here, its tempting to head for the cooler climes).

    Christopher

  2. admin
    admin says:

    The national archives in Bishop Street in Dublin have all the witness statements made by ira members.These were made about 1950-1952 and some statements mention lots of members who were part of local groups.They are worth a try and you would only have to look at the Dublin statements,statements are identified by county and name of member at in index at start of book,
    All the best.
    Michael O ‘ Sullivan

  3. vincent keane
    vincent keane says:

    Dear friend, I studied the last ambush carried out by the ‘Leixlip Column’ at Leixlip in December 1922. 12 were captured, and the free state executed 5 who had left the fs army and joined with mullaney.

  4. Matt Mc Cormack
    Matt Mc Cormack says:

    Re Vol. Francis Brennan.—- Hi, I am secetary of The Fingal Old IRA Commemorative Society 1916-1921, and I have a lot of research done on my granduncle who served in the 3rd battalion and was with the flying column in lexlip. If you want to get in touch for more information please mail me.

  5. Jennifer
    Jennifer says:

    All I can tell you is that my grandfather is the Wyse mentioned in the letter. I was told he was friends with Frank – which i suppose is likely as they were in the same fighting column and from same locality. I also know my grandfather was imprisoned in Mountjoy, was involved in a tunnel there and in the hunger strike there. But that’s as much as I know !.

  6. Anita
    Anita says:

    Hi

    I have Independence medal (1916) belong to Jack Brennan (written on the back), any chance they were family with Francis?

    would appreciate your feedback (email)
    thx
    Anita

  7. Christopher
    Christopher says:

    Hi,
    So sorry to have not been in touch with this board for ages!!!

    Everyone, it sounds like you have some fantastic information! Vincent and Matt, i would love to hear more about the Flying Column; Jennifer, i would absolutely love to know more about your grandfather and i think i can tell you a lot more about the mountjoy tunnel; Anita, i don’t think that your Jack Brennan is related to Francis, but he had an older brother called John about whom i haven’t been able to find a great deal. I might have to dedicate a bit more time to him soon.

    But everyone, please contact me as soon as you can, i would love to be able to share what information i have since found (i was able to access Francis’ pension records). Please email me: christopher0lee@gmail.com

    Hope to hear from you all soon!!!

    Chris

  8. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Hi Chris,
    Can you forward me any information that you have received as I know my dad, Tony, Denis’s brother would appreciate it.
    Thanx
    Maureen x

  9. Eoin Meehan
    Eoin Meehan says:

    Hello all,
    I just came across this website with a Google search because my grandfather was apparently one of the tunnellers in Mountjoy. We were passing a laneway and my mother said “thats where your grandfathers tunnel came out”!. I had heard this as a child but am now investigating it more deeply. My grandfather was Peter Campbell and would be grateful fo any info anyone has on this incident (eoin.meehan at gmail.com)
    Thanks!
    Eoin Meehan

  10. Enga
    Enga says:

    Terry Brennan was called Terry after Terry the Jockey because he was slow growing as a child ( he grew to be tall ) He was christened Francis after his Uncle Frank who had a farm in St Margaret’s Nth of Finglas. The film of a first world war soldier carrying a man across his shoulders is of his brother Charlie Terry was sentenced to death at about the same time Charlie was being decorated for bravery he was reprieved. I do’nt know if the two things are linked
    The Brennan’s are founder members of Erins Isle Finglas GAA Club My Mother was Catherine Brennan My Father and Terry were friends and comrade’s

  11. Christopher Lee
    Christopher Lee says:

    Enga,
    It would be great to hear from you! It would be great to compare notes. I have since found out a lot more about Terry and Charlie. Charlie was in a trench in about 1916 during the battle of the somme but terry was sentenced to death during the Civil War. I would love to hear more about uncle Francis of St. Margarets as we don’t know much about him at all. Are there any of his family still in or around Finglas?
    Please email me: christopher0lee@gmail.com
    Regards
    Christopher

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