15 February-Brendan Bracken

Brendan Bracken was a native of County Tipperary, Ireland. He became the right hand man of British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill from the mid 1920’s onwards. He strongly supported Churchill during World War II. He served as Minister of Information from 1941 to 1945.

Brendan Rendall Bracken was born in Templemore Co Tipperary in 1901. His father, J K Bracken was a stonemason. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and one of the seven founding members of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Bracken’s father died when he was three and his mother Hannah moved the family to Dublin. Brendan attended St Patrick’s National School in Drumcondra. In 1910 at the age of 9 he was transferred to O’Connell School, Richmond Street near Dublin City centre.

In 1915, because of his misbehaviour, Bracken’s mother sent him as a boarder to the Jesuit school, Mungret College which is 3 miles west of Limerick City. Bracken ran away from Mungret and his mother sent him to live with a cousin who was a priest in Echuca, Victoria, Australia. He returned to Ireland in 1919 having spent the previous three years travelling and educating himself.

After a short period attending Sedbergh Public school Bracken got a job as a journalist in London. He joined the Conservative Party and assisted Churchill in the election of 1923. He became a newspaper editor, successful publisher and founder of the Financial Times. He was elected an MP in 1929. A loyal supporter of Churchill, Bracken supported his calls for rearmament to counter the rising threat of Nazism.

During World War II, in 1941, Churchill appointed Bracken to the post of Minister of Information and a member of the Privy Council despite the objections of King George VI. Following the War he was appointed Lord of the Admiralty until he lost his seat in Parliament in 1945. He returned to his publishing business but was re-elected in 1951 and was offered a cabinet post by Churchill. Because of failing health he declined the offer. He resigned from politics, but was elevated to the peerage as Viscount Bracken. He died at the age of 58 on 8th of August 1957.

Brendan Bracken, right hand man of British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill from the mid 1920’s onwards, was born in Templemore, County Tipperary in the year 1901 On This Day.

Bracken photo

London, Bracken House Clock

Photo by Martin Pettitt




22 January-Queen Victoria

Queen Victoria visited the Dublin in 1853 to visit the Great Industrial Exhibition. She visited the home of William Dargan the engineer from Carlow, Ireland who built most of Ireland’s railway network. She offered him a baronetcy in recognition of his services but Dargan declined her offer. By the time of her visit she had been queen for 18 years.

Queen Victoria was born Alexandrina Victoria on May 24th 1819. She became queen of the United Kingdom at the age of 18, on the death of her uncle William IV on 20 June 20th 1837 and reigned for over 63 years. She was a constitutional monarch with relatively little direct power but she did attempt to influence government policy. During her long reign, which is often referred to as the Victorian era, England went through a period of great change and expansion socially and economically. Her period as queen also saw a great expansion of the British Empire.

Eight years into her reign Ireland was hit by the Great Famine. During the following four years over a million Irish people died and as many more emigrated. Queen Victoria personally donated £2,000 to famine relief in Ireland. This was the largest private donation made and she encouraged others to contribute also.

Queen Victoria visited Ireland on four occasions. Her first visit lasted from 2nd to the 12th of August 1849. It was portrayed as the queen showing solidarity with the people in the aftermath of the famine. With her husband Prince Albert she visited Dublin Belfast and Cork and by all accounts was given an enthusiastic welcome. She herself wrote ‘The enthusiasm and excitement shown by the Irish people, was extreme’.

Her second visit to Ireland took place from August 30th to September 3rd 1853. She came to Dublin with her husband and two of their children to show her support for the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853 which had been organised and sponsored by William Dargan. She visited the exhibition every day during her time in Ireland.

Queen Victoria Visited Ireland again from 21st to 29th of August 1861. The queen and her husband visited the Curragh where their son the Prince of Wales was doing military training. From there the royal party went to Kerry where they spent four days in Killarney.

The fourth and final visit by Queen Victoria to Ireland began on April 3rd 1900. She stayed for three weeks and visited schools and hospitals. Though greeted by large crowds her visit was objected to by some nationalists.

Nine months after her final visit to Ireland Queen Victoria died aged of 81 at Osborne House, Isle of Wight in the year 1901 On This Day.

Queen Victoria and others by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1900-04-04 02:13:07