W. J. Brennan-Whitmore

William J. Brennan Whitmore was born in County Wexford in 1886. Both his parents died when he was a child and he was raised by his uncle, John Brennan, a farmer at Clonee, Ferns. As a young man he joined the British Army and served with the Education Corps in India. He left the service in 1907 and returned to Wexford to help on his uncle’s farm. He became a journalist and was active in organising the Irish Volunteers in North Wexford. Because of his military knowledge, he was co-opted to the Volunteers general staff in Dublin. When the Rising began, he was given ten men and ordered to establish a new military post from Noblett’s Corner, Great Earl Street to the Imperial Hotel in Sackville Place. The area came under heavy fire from British artillery. He and his small group fought until they were burned out and then tried to retreat. They were captured and interned in Frongoch in Wales. While interned he helped to turn the detention camp into an unofficial military college, continuing the military training of those who had been involved in the Rising. Secret lectures on guerrilla warfare were given to selected officers. Because of this, the camp later became known as ollscoil na réabhlóide, the ‘University of Revolution’. Brennan Whitmore’s book, With the Irish in Frongoch, detailing the harsh life and conditions in the camp, was published shortly after his release in 1917. In 1966, he published Dublin Burning. The Easter Rising from behind the barricades, an important eye-witness account of events in Dublin. He died in December 1977 aged 91, the last surviving commandant of the Rising.

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