Brendan Brooks (b. 1935)
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Brendan Brooks (b. 1935)


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Frederick Joseph Brooks, grandfather of Brendan Brooks, was a compositor who worked for publishers Browne and Nolan. His house in Drumcondra in Dublin was named St Enda’s. He was a member of C Company 1st Battalion IRA, and his son Brendan was a member of Fianna Éireann. An older son, Leo, was also a member of the IRA. Brendan recalls visits to his uncle’s house in Gardiner Street which had been used as a rambling house where meetings of many of the significant people in the Rising were held. One of those who visited was Countess Markievicz. Brendan recites a poem which was once recited to him by his grandfather. He explains how his grandfather became involved in the Rising, and a conversation Frederick (Freddie) had with James Connolly is described. His grandfather said that the 1916 Proclamation was read at Liberty Hall where it was printed. Brendan explains that Connolly was also a compositor and that he and Freddie Brooks were members of the union. Leo Brooks was with his father in Liberty Hall in 1916. Brendan describes his father’s memories about the attitude of the police when the men were engaging in manoeuvres prior to Easter Week. Leo and his brother Brendan would carry their father’s equipment each weekend when he was engaged in practice manoeuvres. Brendan describes Liberty Hall and says that it was equipped with suitable defences at Easter Week. He recalls the poverty and destitution of the time as described to him by his grandfather. He explains the reason why Connolly put men at the barricades. He knew that the British Army would be sent to the city from the Curragh. Freddie Brooks was at the Mendicity Institution during the week of the Rising. Brendan explains that two men were killed there, one by an exploding grenade and the other by a sniper. He further explains that the men under arrest were pelted with objects by the public when they were being brought to the docks for transport to British prisons. His grandfather told him that the men were in danger of being thrown into the Liffey by the local people until the British soldiers were ordered to fix bayonets. Freddie Brooks was interrogated and court martialled at Inchicore, and Brendan explains his personal connection with the place of interrogation. Freddie was sentenced to death in May 1916 and taken to Kilmainham Gaol. While imprisoned there he heard Seán Heuston being executed by firing squad. Brendan explains that his uncle, Leo Brooks, went to the GPO at Easter Week, but was sent home by James Connolly. He explains that everybody knew one another at that time. His grandfather’s explanation of the difference between Communism and Socialism, and the importance of remembering that Connolly was a Socialist, is described. A poem is recited which his grandfather said proved this fact. He describes the events which occurred when British soldiers went to the Connolly home to bring Mrs Connolly to see her husband before his execution. Frederick Brooks was married to Kathleen Doyle from Lusk. After the Rising he served his time in Lewes Prison where he was set to work on a loom. His photograph, taken outside the Mansion House in 1917, is examined. He took part in the War of Independence for which service he was awarded a medal. Brendan recalls that only on one occasion did his grandfather speak to him about his activities in 1916. He recalls a visit he made to a Mr Byrne, a veteran who was his grandfather’s apprentice compositor. The song Twenty men from Dublin Town would always make his uncle emotional, Brendan remarks. He discusses the paradox involving violence mixed with religiosity, as the IRA men would attend Mass before military engagements. He reflects upon what he had learnt from the veterans he has spoken to and he mentions a watch given to his grandfather in Lewes Prison. Chris Stafford, who had been a member of Cumann na mBan in Dublin, became Freddie Brooks’s second wife, and Brendan describes her assistance in erecting the radio mast during Easter week. She was arrested and suffered a long-term eye injury. Brendan remembers an occasion when he spoke to a woman who had been secretary to de Valera. Leo Brooks’s role in the Civil War in Dublin Brigade IRA is recalled. Leo later spoke about his time in Mountjoy Prison and of his memory of the executions of December 8th 1922. An incident involving a priest at the prison is recalled. Leo later went on hunger strike in the Curragh, and the way in which he was taken prisoner by the Free State soldiers is described by his nephew. Later he worked as an electrician. A meeting of two comrades who were on opposing sides in the Civil War is described. Leo Brooks and Paddy Quinn later set up in business together. Fr Maurice Walsh OP, chaplain of the Dublin Brigade, is remembered. Brendan also recalls the Brooks home in Gardiner Street.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

56.27 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Frederick J. Brooks (Interviewee’s grandfather)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore