New Robert Brennan monument unveiled

By David Tucker

Members of Robert Brennan's family with local dignitaries at the unveiling of the monument.
Members of Robert Brennan's family with local dignitaries at the unveiling of the monument.

In one of his last acts at Mayor of Wexford, Cllr Ger Carthy unveiled a monument to Robert Brennan, the revolutionary hero, journalist and Ireland's first ambassador to the United States, in Abbey Street, at the weekend.

Historian Nicky Furlong said that after 70 years it was right and proper that Wexford had honoured Brennan, who until recently had been largely airbrushed from the town's history.

The unveiling follows a plebiscite earlier this year in which a proposal to change the name of George Street to Brennan Street was defeated.

Brennan, who grew up in Upper George Street, took part in the 1916 Rising, was a prominent writer and journalist and became the Irish Free State's first minister to the United States, yet until recently his name has been virtually airbrushed from the history of the town.

Speaking at the unveiling, at which members of Brennan's family including his granddaughters Yvonne Jerrold and Suzanne Maher both from the UK were present, Nicky declared that this was a splendid and exclusive day for Wexford, for the county and for Ireland as a whole.

'Robert Brennan, one of our greatest most unselfish, courageous heroes is at last given the gratitude and the eminence he deserves, said Nicky.

'After 70 years Wexford does honour to a man of this very vicinity, a man who was born here, walked these very streets, played, developed and grew to manhood, a man who became a colossus in Ireland's history.

'When called to serve Ireland at the highest national and international level he was unobtrusive. Because from 17 years of age he was obsessed totally in service to Ireland, in the rescue of Ireland from appalling humiliation, in the restoration of its own centuries of culture, its rightful pride in itself, its own language, its own classical literature back to the fringes of pre-history, plus the grasping of its thorough independence.

'Above all he was determined on Ireland's escape from the shabby dominance from which it suffered and endured for so long.'

Nicky said that the memorial to Brennan in the very precincts of his birth, childhood, schooldays, growth and adolescence is the place close to the Bullring where, during the 1798 centenary rallies and unveilings, his horror at the cruelties, the subjugations, the evictions of the Irish from Ireland's own soil appalled him as a 17 year old.

'We must also today salute the calibre of the two substantial and prodigious women in his life: His wife, Una Bolger of Coolnaboy and his sister, Nan, and we dare not forget his brilliant, still internationally celebrated writer daughter, Maeve of The New Yorker,' said Nicky.

Following the 1916 Uprising, Brennan spent almost three years in English and Welsh jails.

'But today we think of him and 1916 especially, him and Una Bolger. We are heartened by the presence of all his admiring family.

'I had the happiness of meeting 'Bob' Brennan on his return to his home town. It was in 1947 in Rowe Street Church Yard. He and his wife Una had won over the hearts and respect of the powerful Washington Media and all diplomats before, during and after the war years.

'At this moment on a proud accomplishment, I beg to declare before the centuries of County Wexford and Irish History that Robert Brennan has entered the pantheon of Wexford's greatest heroes.'

Wexford People

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