ohs lecture – Brendan Bracken

Ormond Historical Society

Monday night, 6th February 2017

Lecture by Charles Lysaght on

Brendan Bracken

Charles Lysaght, author of best-selling biography “Brendan Bracken” will be the guest speaker at Ormond Historical Society’s next lecture on Monday night, 6th February 2017.

Winston Churchill’s right-hand man and closest confidant for over thirty years, Bracken was a man of mystery and intrigue, even to those who thought they knew him. Born in Templemore in 1901, to GAA founding father and IRB member, J. K. Bracken and his second wife, Hannah Ryan of Borrisoleigh. Brendan Bracken went on to live a life vastly different from that of his parents and his nationalist upbringing. Widowed in 1904 by the death of her husband, Hannah Bracken moved her family to Dublin in 1908 where Brendan attended O’Connell’s CBS.

As a teenager Brendan was more than a handful and in an effort to bring some focus to his life his mother sent him to Mungret College, Limerick in 1915. Shortly after his arrival in Mungret, however, he absconded and ran up quickly managed to run up hotel bills. Despairing of ever managing to control her wayward son Hannah sent him to Australia in the care of a relative who was ministering as a priest in Victoria. Once again Brendan decided to do things his way and spent a nomadic life in Australia, self-educating himself in the process.

A brief return to Ireland in 1919 was followed by a spell as an ‘Australian orphan’ in Sedbergh Public School in Yorkshire. Various careers followed before Brendan worked as part of Winston Churchill’s campaign team in the 1923 British General Election. This introduction to British politics led to Bracken standing as a Conservative candidate in the 1929 election and to his being elected as MP for the London constituency of North Paddington.

Bracken’s relationship with Churchill grew and his advice was instrumental in securing the post of Prime Minister for Churchill following the resignation of Neville Chamberlain. Following Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister, Brendan was appointed as his parliamentary private secretary. Appointment to the Cabinet as Minister for Information followed in 1941, along with a place on the Political Warfare Executive, positions which he held until the end of the war in 1945. A brief appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty followed before the Churchill government was succeeded by Clement Attlee’s Labour government. Unfortunately for Bracken he also lost his North Paddington seat, but was returned to parliament for the constituency of Bournemouth in November 1945 and went on to hold this seat until his retirement from politics in 1952. In addition to politics Bracken also had a successful publishing career, publishing several titles including The Financial Times, The Economist, History Today and The Banker. He retired from publishing in 1956 and died in 1958.

Charles Lysaght is a barrister by profession and has published two books on the life of Brendan Bracken. In addition, he has also published a life of Edward MacLysaght, the renowned Irish genealogist. In association with the London Times he has published two editions of Irish obituaries, entitled Great Irish Lives, the latest of which appeared last October. Why not come along to the Abbey Court Hotel on Monday night next and hear the full story of this amazing Tipperary man and the extraordinary life which he lived. This well-illustrated lecture delivered by the foremost authority on Bracken will be another memorable event for Ormond Historical Society.