Pictured above: National Army Recruiting Office, Pearse Street (formerly Great Brunswick Street), Dublin. National Library of Ireland on The Commons (

Jackie Colson from Somerset in the UK wrote to us recently on foot of reading our posts on the Irish Civil War and War of Independence. She’s trying to find out more about her Great Grandfather Thomas Brennan, probably born around 1880. Jackie has spent the last 15 years trying to find Thomas Brennan but has never come across anything other than whats described below. His life story is fascinating and hopefully relating it here might help Jackie in tracking down more information. If it jogs any memories you can email Jackie at jackie005 (at) or just leave a comment below. Here’s Jackie’s narrative on Thomas:

“Little is known of Thomas other than he possibly came from a large farm in Kilkenny where his father was the Land Steward and that Thomas was a travelling showman, his show was named the Connaught Bazaar.

It’s is known for sure that Thomas was a Volunteer and in 1920 was held up in the Antient Concert Hall, Gt Brunswick Street (now Pearse St), Dublin. Thomas’ wife listed Thomas’s profession as Mechanic on his son’s birth cert – his son was born in Cork whilst Thomas was in Dublin.

Some stories are that he was part of a group that drove a train into barracks and other  tell of how he hid other Volunteers in his travelling caravans and transported them to safer areas. His wife and young children were in the caravan at the time. His wife was English and a concert singer, when the caravans were stopped, it’s said she would chat to the soldiers and offer them drinks but asking them to be quiet as the children were sleeping.

Thomas and his wife separated late 1920’s and all contact was lost with Thomas, the only detail I have is that he was living in Raphoe c. 1928. After the separation, Thomas’s wife became the partner of Thomas’s friend and business partner, they had 4 children and became and still are, one of Ireland’s most famous musical families but sadly they have no knowledge of Thomas Brennan.

 Thomas was my fathers grandfather and when Dad’s mother went to America in 1927 Dad was left with Thomas until he was eventually fostered out to a family in Raphoe before coming to England with them in 1939.”

Jackie also received a copy of one of Thomas’s daughters marriage certs, she married in 1934 and Thomas is stated as being deceased. Another daughter married in 1932 – on that cert he’s alive and listed as a Showman so we may have a closer date of death.


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