Brenda McLoughlin (b. 1947)
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Brenda McLoughlin (b. 1947)


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Brenda McLoughlin discusses the history of the Adrien family who are of Huguenot descent. Molly Adrien was born in 1873. Her father was Dr John Adrien and for a period the family lived near Stamullen, later moving to Balbriggan. John Adrien was Medical Officer at Balrothery Workhouse for thirty years. Brenda reads the names of the members of the board. She recalls Molly’s early life, explaining that she had four siblings and that many of her relatives were in the medical profession. The family was Roman Catholic. Molly’s parents died when the family was young, and the two youngest siblings, Brenda’s grandmother Eva and Edward, were made wards of court. Her grandmother told Brenda that Molly attended a Catholic boarding school in England and a French finishing school, as she herself also did. Eva became an artist and she later married Patrick Griffin. Brenda explains that he had previously wooed Molly and this was to affect the sisters’ relationship for ever after. Molly Adrien joined the Lusk branch of the Women’s Volunteer Movement which had been founded in 1914. Brenda did not know her, though her father remembered her well and described her as a very busy person, though eccentric. She had inherited a house in Oldtown from an aunt, and she cycled everywhere wearing a hat, with a green white and gold flag. Brenda remarks that the late Paddy Weston remembered Molly cycling around Lusk. Her home was used as a safe house which created a dangerous situation for her, and Brenda’s grandmother would worry about her sister’s safety because of this. Brenda discusses what she has learnt about her grandaunt from her researches, and explains that she was secretary of the Balrothery Old Age Pension committee. She recalls her memories of Molly’s house and says that she was apparently well-liked in the area and had many friends. Brenda reads from Molly’s sworn statement made on December 4th 1936. She had become a member of the Central Branch of Cumann na mBan in 1915 and was Thomas Ashe’s scout during Easter Week. She assisted Dr Richard Hayes in caring for the wounded following the battle of Ashbourne. The work carried out by her grandaunt in April 1916 and beyond is reflected upon, and Brenda remarks that all those women were brave, with only one cause in mind. During the War of Independence, Molly acted as a dispatch rider and scout, and Brenda calculates that she was in her late 30s while engaged in these activities. Though they inherited wealth from their parents, Molly and her siblings lived frugal lives. Brenda remembers her granduncle, Ned Adrien, whom she recalls as also being very eccentric. She well remembers her grandmother Eva who lived in her family home, and she recalls the fact that they were all interested in European history and were very well read on the subject. Brenda discusses Molly’s only romantic relationship, which failed when the man in question fell in love with her sister Eva with whom he eloped. Eva Adrien and Patrick Griffin went on to live a happy life and they reared seven children. Molly broke all connection with her sister, and another sister, Katy, would tell Eva about Molly’s life thereafter. Brenda’s great- grandmother, Mary McCullagh is recalled. Dr John Adrien had retired from the board of the Balrothery Workhouse in 1879 due to ill-health, and his daughter Molly was appointed chairman of the board after the Rising. Brenda recalls the Workhouse and describes the work undertaken there. Molly Adrien supported the republican side during the War of Independence. She lived in Oldtown all her life, and she died in 1949 and was buried at Crickstown Cemetery with military honours. The house, which is now demolished, was always a safe house but no relevant names are mentioned in Molly’s statement. Brenda remembers the railings at the house and remarks that apparently during Molly’s lifetime they were painted green white and gold. A plaque was erected in her memory on the bridge in Oldtown in the 1970s or 1980s. The present Bracken Hotel in Balbriggan was the Adrien family home when they first arrived in the area. Brenda has letters and receipts connected with the Adrien men’s education at Ampleforth College in England. Dr John Adrien attended the School of Medicine at the Catholic University of Ireland. She remembers what her grandmother Eva would say about her estranged sister Molly, whom she always described as being eccentric and foolish though Brenda recalls Eva as being rather eccentric herself. She never showed any interest in politics. Brenda’s father would recall his mother’s worries about Molly’s house and the people who took refuge there. Molly died in 1949 when Brenda was two years old, and the oration at the graveside at Crickstown Cemetery was delivered by P.J. Burke TD. No record of her activities in 1916 or its aftermath may be seen on her headstone. Her brother Ned Adrien is also buried there. Brenda reflects on the lack of information in the family about her grand-aunt, and explains that they are now learning about her extraordinary activities.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

35.15 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Molly Adrien (Interviewee’s grandaunt)

Recorded by:

Robert Woods