Cathal Brugha was a figure of central importance to the Irish Revolution. Active in the Gaelic League, GAA, IRB, and Irish Volunteers, he first rose to public prominence when he led an advanced column of Volunteers in the Howth gun-running of July 1914. He went on to hold important leadership positions during the 1916 Rising, in the Irish Volunteers and in Dail cabinets until his death in July 1922. Despite this, he is almost totally neglected in the history of this period. This is the first dedicated English-language biography to focus on this fascinating figure.
Using new archival material from the Bureau of Military History, Fergus O’Farrell documents Brugha’s career as a revolutionary. This closely-researched work examines Brugha’s complex attitudes to violence as well as illuminating his commitment to political methods. Historians have previously stressed Brugha’s commitment to militancy over politics and he has been portrayed as a strong advocate of violence and distrustful of politics. This simplistic outlook is here challenged, showing that Brugha sought to marry force with politics in the pursuit of Irish independence.