Cathal Brugha

‘An Indomitable Spirit’

Daithí Ó Corráin & Gerard Hanley

Paperback €22.45
Catalogue Price: €24.95
ISBN: 978-1-80151-017-2
July 2022. 222pp. Ills.

"This book is excellent. A daunting job, done magnificently." Cathal MacSwiney Brugha

Daithí Ó Corráin and Gerard Hanley have collaborated to produce an impressive new biography, Cathal Brugha: ‘An Indomitable Spirit’ … both authors cast a wide net across sometimes obscure secondary sources and accounts, along with the limited available primary material, to get a sense of the man behind the martyred icon and devotee of Irish republicanism … the authors are keen to illuminate Brugha beyond the image of the devoted ‘soldier of the Republic’ in popular memory. There is an intriguing look into Brugha’s family background … There is also a forensic exploration of the true nature of the feud between Collins and Brugha … One of the great strengths of the book is exploring the life of his wife Caitlín Brugha, a self-made businesswoman who remained a fervent republican and devoted to her husband’s memory … the book is an engrossing, detailed exploration of an important life rarely presented beyond the familiar beats in other works of the period.” Gerard Shannon, History Ireland, November-December 2022

“[A] succinct biography ... the authors clearly and often cleverly marshal what is available to provide a very sympathetic portrait, while acknowledging Brugha’s tendency to misjudge some crucial issues … ‘Our Lion Heart is gone’ de Valera recorded in his diary. This new book prompts us to think of the complex and sometimes contradictory impulses that went through that heart, and it concludes with a sobering reminder of the implications of his death for his widow and six children”. Diarmaid Ferriter, The Irish Times, 9th July 2022

Cathal Brugha: ‘An Indomitable Spirit’ is a book that seeks to address the neglect of this pivotal revolutionary character …it is a work by two historians who bring the diligence of their craft into play without unduly testing the casual reader’s endurance … [Michael] Collins declared that Brugha would be remembered ‘when many of us are forgotten’. It was never going to work out like that but this book, scholarly and readable, makes an honest fist of trying to redress the balance”. Frank Coughlan, The Irish Independent, 9th July 2022

“Daithí Ó Corráin and Gerard Hanley's well-conceived new biography has gone a long way to rescue his life and legacy, beyond the shadow of a gunman. Cathal Brugha: ‘An Indomitable Spirit’ is an extraordinary biography ... Ó Corráin and Hanley establish the person behind the well-worn republican persona … Carefully researched and rigorously examined, this study has finally found a place for Brugha in the history of the Irish Revolution ... In this well written new biography, Cathal Brugha has been aptly cast as a rebel with a cause”. Darragh Gannon, The Sunday Independent, 9th July 2022

“Cathal Brugha has often been depicted as a hopeless fanatic ... Daithí Ó Corráin and Gerard Hanley’s book sets out to reveal the truth behind that caricature. As they note in their introduction, Brugha’s CV is highly impressive: Easter Rising hero, key organiser of the Irish Volunteers and Sinn Fein, acting President of Dail Eireann (while De Valera was in America), minister for defence during the War of Independence, first high-profile casualty of the Civil War ... it certainly makes a strong case that he was ‘a complex, tenacious and often maligned figure’ … Ó Corráin and Hanley vigorously dispute the notion that Brugha was just an unsophisticated hothead. Instead they portray him as an honourable man who always played by the rules as he saw them ... This intelligent and insightful book could well have been called The Life and Times of Cathal Brugha. Exhaustively researched and soberly written, it contains plenty of balanced commentary on the entire revolutionary period. Ó Corráin and Hanley have given Brugha his rightful place in Irish History – but also confirmed that he was ultimately on the wrong side of it”. Andrew Lynch, The Sunday Business Post, 3rd July 2022

“Of the ‘quartet’ of Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith, Harry Boland and Cathal Brugha by some distance, Brugha has been the most neglected, a sort of leading personality ‘also-ran’. This book seeks to redress the balance in putting Brugha front and centre, while also following his wife in the aftermath of his death ... Everyone who knew Brugha, no matter what side they took post-treaty, paid homage to his outstanding bravery and determination, while De Valera, on hearing of his death, wrote in his diary ‘our lion heart is gone’. On the centenary of his death, this book is a fitting tribute, a must read for history fans and anyone interested in knowing more about the civil war”. Anne Cunningham, The Meath Chronicle, July 2022

Cathal Brugha: ‘An Indomitable Spirit’ is a very important work ... Ó Corráin and Hanley reveal Cathal Brugha cannot be dismissed as simply a republican ideologue implacably opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Based on exhaustive research, this book challenges the often simplistic and reductive depiction of Brugha by providing a nuanced and multi-layered appraisal of this complex individual. It chronicles his public and private life and the influences that shaped him; assesses his multifaceted involvement in the Irish Revolution and his uncompromising commitment to an Irish republic; contextualizes his relationships with contemporaries such as Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera and Richard Mulcahy; explores how his premature death affected his young family and how his wife, Caitlìn, upheld his political principles by standing as a Sinn Fein TD; and reflects on how Brugha’s indomitable patriotism was propagandized after his death. This highly recommended work is a fascinating portrait of a complex, tenacious, and often misunderstood figure”. Ireland’s Genealogical Gazette, July 2022

“Revolutionaries are ordinary people with odd ideas. The architects of the Irish Revolution were solid sorts from the lower-middle classes: bookkeepers, tobacconists and teachers, suspicious of the more flamboyant figures who occasionally turned out in the cause. It is the sobriety of most heroes of Irish freedom that causes us to lavish attention on more “cuddly” figures such as Michael Collins. Collins’s bitter enemy Cathal Brugha – hero of Easter 1916, minister of the underground republic, first celebrity fatality of the Civil War – was a commercial traveller for a firm of church candle manufacturers ... He enjoyed cycling, was kind to children, and prayed the rosary daily. He did not drink or smoke or swear. You could certainly take him to tea with your mother ... The authors of this fine, diligent study want to reconcile that understated private character with the Cathal Brugha who sustained 25 bullet wounds fighting in Easter Week. Such an effort is overdue: Brugha is an under-written character in most histories of the Irish Revolution, whose occasional diehard interjections bear no apparent relation to his background … Some of the analysis by the two authors is revealing: they are excellent on Brugha’s domestic life and the impact of his political career on his family … This is a valuable and illuminating study.” Patrick Hudson, The Tablet. July 2022

"a fascinating portrait of a complex, tenacious, and often misunderstood figure”. Ireland of the Welcomes, July/August 2022

“this excellent assessment of Cathal Brugha’s place in the history of the Irish revolution … The authors tell Brugha’s story in clear prose, taking a straightforward chronological approach … Ó Corráin and Hanley’s achievement in this work is to show that we should judge Cathal Brugha on more than his worst qualities alone”. (Irish Literary Supplement, Spring 2024)