Becoming Ceann Fine of the Brosnan Clan – June 2013

[This is a ‘sticky’ post and so will remain at the the top of the news listings]

In July 2013 I took my Dad to Kerry to attend the Clan Brosnan Gathering.  This included the appointment of the first Ceann Fine (clan chieftain) of the Brosnans.  To my surprise and great honour, I was appointed to the role.  This website is one way for me fulfil a leadership role by making available Brosnan/Brosnahan history as well as my wider body of historical work.  I hope that this will be useful to anyone interested in Irish diasporic history, especially in relation to New Zealand.

Seán Brosnahan's inauguration as Brosnan Ceann Fine.

Fr Dan Riordan and Senator Mark Daly who presented me with the plaque and the piece of ash I am holding, which is my symbol of office as Ceann Fine of the Brosnans.

This 4-minute YouTube clip was made by local television in Kerry about the 2013 East Kerry Roots Festival which incorporated the Clan Brosnan Gathering.


Click here to visit the Ceann Fine presentation on the Brosnan Clan Gathering Facebook page.


Brosnans and the formation of the Australian Federal Police

A couple of years ago on this blog I began looking at Brosnans/Brosnahans who died on active service during WWI.  I never took that further than the Australian Brosnan war dead and maybe I should carry on the work a bit further.  Right now, however, it seems more appropriate to remember Brosnans who made their mark with anti-war activity.  Over the next wee while I’m going to write up something of the Brosnans who opposed conscription in New Zealand and paid the penalty of losing their freedom for their troubles.  But first, I want to mark an important centenary being celebrated in Queensland today.  This commemoration remembers a pair of Australian Brosnan brothers who took their anti-conscription fight direct to the Australian Prime Minister of the day, Billy Hughes.  On 29 November 1917 Pat and Bart Brosnan were involved in throwing eggs at the PM as he got off a train at Warwick in Queensland during Australia’s controversial conscription referendum debate.

One of the eggs hit the prime minister’s hat, setting off a physical stoush on the railway platform as Hughes’s supporters and anti-conscription protestors clashed.  After the latter had been removed from the station, the Prime Minister began his speech promoting conscription.  But Pat Brosnan returned to the platform and began interjecting.  This prompted Hughes to wade into the crowd, calling for Pat to be arrested.  And here’s where this minor incident in the great furore of those months in 1917, when Australian society was riven by the conscription issue, took an unexpected turn, and one that would have long-term consequences.   The policeman at hand, you see, was Senior Sergeant Henry Kenny, a Catholic of Irish descent who refused to make an arrest on the grounds that the egg throwers might have breached Commonwealth law but he was only answerable to the Queensland government.

This led directly to Hughes subsequently setting up the first Commonwealth police force since he was convinced that the Queensland force was “honeycombed with Sinn Feiners”.  The significance of the  “Warwick egg incident” is even noted on the official website of the current Australian Federal Police:

“… federal policing in Australia can trace its origins to the closing stages of World War 1 to an incident when Queensland Police would not follow the directions of Prime Minister William Hughes.  On 29 November 1917 while campaigning to introduce military conscription, Hughes was the target of eggs thrown by protestors when he arrived at Warwick Railway Station in southern Queensland. Prime Minister Hughes was incensed that the attending Queensland Police would not arrest the offenders under federal law, so when he returned to Parliament he set about drafting legislation to create the Commonwealth Police Force (CPF). The ‘Warwick Incident’ was the last straw for the Prime Minister who was engaged in a range of jurisdictional struggles with the Queensland Government at the time.”

I don’t know much about Pat and Bart Brosnan but years later when Billy Hughes died, Pat Brosnan was interviewed by the Melbourne Age, expressing his sympathies for Hughes’s widow and his admiration for his long ago adversary:

Melbourne Age, 30 October 1952:

“Mr. Patrick Brosnan, the man who threw the celebrated Warwick egg at Mr. W. M. Hughes in 1917, is going to send Dame Mary Hughes a telegram of condolence. Mr. Brosnan is 77 and a retired horse trainer, who has been living with his wife at Sandgate for the last two years. ‘Billy was a great old feller,’ he said today. ‘I would have loved to meet him, but never did. I hit him fair and square with the egg as he arrived at Warwick railway station. He just kept on going. ‘The “little digger”‘ was
campaigning for conscription at that time. He may have been right, but I did not want to be conscripted”.
The Southern Downs Regional Council has now named the little park outside the railway station Billy Hughes Park.  It runs along Brosnan Crescent, which seems more than appropriate.  Today a plaque recounting the history of the egg throwing incident was to be unveiled there and the call went out for Brosnans to join the celebrations: Calling all Brosnans  I hope lots of them did.

Polish honour for Toitu curator

Thursday, 19 Nov 2015

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator Seán Brosnahan. Photo: Peter McIntosh

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator Seán Brosnahan. Photo: Peter McIntosh

Toitu Otago Settlers Museum curator Seán Brosnahan is one four people from Otago to be awarded one of Poland’s highest honours, the Polish Gold Cross of Merit.

The chairperson of the Polish Heritage of Otago and Southland Charitable Trust (POHOS), Cecylia Klobukowska, said he would be acknowledged for his research into the history of Polish heritage in New Zealand, and in Otago and Southland in particular.

“In 2004, Seán curated Poland to Pahiatua: Remembering the Refugee Children of 1944and in 2006 Our Southern Poles: Otago’s Polish heritage 1872-2006.

“Other exhibitions have included Our Southern Poles: our Polish Heritage (2008), which was shown with the international exhibition from Poland Joseph Conrad: Twixt Land and Sea,” she said.

“These exhibitions have explored the history of the first Polish settlers arriving in Otago and Southland in the19th century and those who arrived in New Zealand during and after World War 2.

“The exhibitions have allowed everyone to learn more about Poland’s history and culture.”

Our Southern Poles also went to Poland and was shown in Warsaw, Gdansk, Starogard Gdanski, Krakow and Lublin.

Mr Brosnahan said he admired the Poles, who had “a rich and at times tragic history”.

“It has been a pleasure to discover these stories, work with this community and to see the way the local Polish community have reanimated their traditions in New Zealand and passed them on to their children and our community.”

Other recipients are: Margaret Ann Howard, artist (Dunedin), Carolina Meikle, POHOS Board member (Dunedin) and Czeslawa Panek, POHOS founding member (Oamaru).

They would be awarded their honours by Polish ambassador H.E. Zbigniew Gniatkowski at a function at the museum for invited guests on Saturday evening.


Source: Polish honour for Toitu curator | Otago Daily Times Online News : Otago, South Island, New Zealand & International News

A new Brosnan family gallery: the Thady Micks.

Finally, I have managed to add another gallery of Brosnan/Brosnahan images to this site (it’s taken me ages to work out how to do it).  All of these photos relate to the Timothy Michael (Thady Mick) Brosnans of Kerrytown and  were provided courtesy of Stephanie Brosnan following the family reunion held at Easter 2014.  This is the first of the ‘other’ Brosnan/Brosnahan families from Kerrytown that I have been able to add to this site but I would be happy to add others. It would be especially good to have further photographs of the pioneer generation and what you might call the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Kerrytown settlement, i.e. those Brosnans and Brosnahans who came as immigrants from County Kerry.  I’d love to have more of a ‘rogues gallery’ sort of representation of the founding fathers and mothers of all the Kerrytown Brosnan/Brosnahan families rather than just my own branch.  And indeed, the pioneers of other Brosnan/Brosnahan families from around New Zealand.  Let me know if you have such images to share.

Otago WW1 film honoured at awards

The irregularity of my posts here reflects busyness in other areas.  Still, I can promise a nice tranche of new Brosnan/Brosnahan photos will be appearing here soon.  In the meantime, and without wanting to be boastful, I thought I’d share this recent acknowledgement for the documentary I filmed with my son Joseph last June as part of my work as a museum curator.  Journey of the Otagos tracked the Otago units of New Zealand’s WW1 contingent across the battlefields of Gallipoli and the Western Front. It was recognised as the best museum project in the New Zealand Museums awards last month:

Otago WW1 film honoured at awards | Otago Daily Times Online News : Otago, South Island, New Zealand & International News.

Brosnan/Brosnahan: Thady Mick’s crew

At Easter this year I was honoured to be invited to address the descendants of Timothy Michael “Thady Mick” Brosnahan, a famous figure among the Kerrytown Brosnahans, as they gathered in Timaru and Kerrytown for a family reunion.  It was my first real ceremonial function as Ceann Fine since the Gathering in 2013.  Margaret and Bernard Hempseed, there as members of Thady Mick’s descendant group, had also been present with me in Kerry and were inspired to have a sash made to add to the accoutrements of my role.  I had my hawthorn stick of course and was proudly showing it off when they made the surprise presentation.  I was very grateful for their thoughtfulness.

With my new "Ceann Fine" sash in Kerry colours, Easter 2014.

With my new “Ceann Fine” sash in Kerry colours, Easter 2014.

The descendants of Thady Mick form a fascinating example of the optional spellings of the Brosnan/Brosnahan surname when it is used in the English form.  Thady had two wives, each of whom bore him children.  Those born to his union with Mary Sullivan went by the Brosnahan surname.  When she died and he remarried Bridget O’Neill, the children of the ‘second’ family went by Brosnan.  I suppose it was one way of keeping clear as to who belonged to who.  Anyway it means that Brosnan and Brosnahan are mixed up in this particular way in a manner that is untangleable (if that’s a word).

To add to the confusion, Margaret Hempseed’s mother married first a Brosnan (of the Thady Mick line) and then a Brosnahan.  Margaret, born to Winnie McGuire and Fergus Brosnan, was therefore a Brosnan.  Her sister Claudia, meanwhile, the daughter of Winnie and her second husband Harold Brosnahan, was a Brosnahan (of the John ‘Peg Leg’ line).  I made some play of this in my address to the reunion, pointing out that however our surname if spelt in English, it is an Irish name and O’Brosnácháin is the ‘proper’ spelling of the name.  I heard an Irish speaker in a TV documentary refer to the Brosnahans collectively as what sounded like “Na Brosnacháiní” which I guess is the plural.  Please correct me if this in wrong.

Tony Brosnan outlines the schedule for the Brosnan/Brosnahan reunion at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Tony Brosnan outlines the schedule for the Brosnan/Brosnahan reunion at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Thady Mick Brosnahan's descendants at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

Thady Mick Brosnahan’s descendants at Kerrytown, Easter 2014.

The reunion itself was a fun gathering with visits to farm properties at Kerrytown that are no longer in family hands, a dinner, a Mass and a lunch at Temuka.  I really enjoyed meeting a whole new set of Brosnans/Brosnahans, seeing so many physical and social characteristics that seem to  be common to all the Kerrytown families, and hearing stories of this vibrant energetic branch of the tribe.  Na Brosnacháiní go bragh.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed at Kerrtown, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed at Kerrtown, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed with her Kerry flag at the site of the old Kerrytown convent, Easter 2014.

Margaret Brosnan Hempseed with her Kerry flag at the site of the old Kerrytown convent, Easter 2014.

Plaque commemorating the old Kerrytown convent site.

Plaque commemorating the old Kerrytown convent site.

Rare postmark from the old Kerrytown post office, thanks to Bernard Hempseed.

Rare postmark from the old Kerrytown post office, thanks to Bernard Hempseed.

All photographs above courtesy of Bernard Hempseed.

The Fallen Brosies of the AIF



The records of the AIF are all available online through the Australian National Archives which gives digital access to every soldier’s service record.  Just search by name and select the “World War 1” option under the Category of Record menu:

There are five Brosnans listed on the CWGC website as members of the Australian forces who died during the war.  Here they are in alphabetical order by their Christian name:

1.  Driver A (Angus) A Brosnan, 1321.

Died in France on 27 September 1918, age unknown but probably 29.  Served with 15th Battery off the 5th Brigade Australian Field Artillery.  Buried in Roisel Communal Cemetery Extension IM17.

Angus was a 26-year-old miner from Scarsdale when he enlisted at Ballarat in July 1915.  He was just 5’3″ tall, with a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark, straight hair. He was a Catholic.

Angus went overseas on the “Ceramic” which left Melbourne for Egypt on the 23 November 1915.  He came down with mumps in March 1916 and was hospitalised in Abbassia (Cairo). He then transferred to the 1st Light Horse Training regiment and joined this regiment in the field in France on 15 September 1916. Just a week later he was detached to traffic control duties with the 1st Australian Division Headquarters.  He went back to the Light Horse on 19 December 1916.  He was back with HQ and traffic control in March 1917 and then detached to the 1st Anzac Cycling Battalion.

In June 1917 Angus went sick with a case of gonorrhoea that saw him hospitalised in Rouen.  He returned to the Light Horse Regiment from hospital.  In September 1917 he was again in trouble when he refused to stop smoking in his billet – an environment where inflammable material was stored – and that earned Angus 96 hours of Field Punishment No 2.   In November 1917 he was transferred to the 15th Battery of the Field Artillery Brigade as a gunner.  He was made a driver soon afterwards.  At the end of 1917 he got a two-week leave to Britain and may have taken the opportunity to visit Ireland as so many colonial Irish did in like circumstances.

Angus was killed in action in September 1918 and is buried just a few kilometres away from Peronne, the town I stayed at for four days last month.  I notice that he is buried alongside another member of his unit who was killed on the same day.  I would guess that this may indicate they were members of the same gun crew and taken out by the same shell, although there is no further detail on this in the record.  Peronne is one place that really appreciates Australians as they liberated it from the Germans in August 1918.  There is a special Australian memorial there and the Aussie flag is much in evidence in the town.  Angus’s next-of-kin was his sister Mrs Kathleen Sullivan of Smythsdale Victoria and he also had one brother Daniel Brosnan of Park View, Burgundy Street, Heidelberg, Victoria.

2.  Private Jack J Brosnan, 2886.

Died in France on 13 January 1917 aged 18.  Served with 1st Australian Pioneers.  Buried at Heilly Station Cemetery, Mericourt-L’Abee VE25.  He was the son of Maurice and Harrie Brosnan and a native of New South Wales, born in Ballina.  Jack was an apprentice printer with the Sunday Times newspaper in Sydney.  The newspaper gave him a camera, engraved with his name, when he joined up (his mother later sought to have it returned by the Army after his death).

Jack was admitted to hospital suffering from shell shock within a month of joining his unit in action at the end of June 1916 and then, having rejoined them in October 1916, he was fatally wounded by a shell in the right thigh and arm the following January.  He was a fair-haired boy who stood just under 5’4″ tall and was a Catholic.  When Harriet received her son’s personal effects after his death they included a rosary, scapular and pray book but there was no sign of his camera.

3. Private John J Brosnan, 2385.

Died in France on 24 July 1916, age unknown.  He served with the 12th Battalion, Australian Imperial Force.  He has no known grave; his name is recorded on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial in France.  John Brosnan was a 31-year-old case maker in Perth when he enlisted in May 1915 but he was born in Collingwood in Melbourne, the son of John Brosnan.  He was 5’10” tall, with brown hair and eyes and recorded his religious affiliation as Wesleyan.  By August 1915 John was in action with the 12th Battalion on Gallipoli but within weeks he was struck down by dysentry and enteric fever and evacuated, first to Mudros, then to Alexandria and finally to England.  He rejoined the Battalion in the field in France in July 1916 but again within just a fortnight he was reported missing in action and subsequently confirmed as killed in action.  John’s elderly father died in April 1918 and the Army could find no other blood relations to mourn John junior’s loss or receive his personal effects and service medals.

4.  Private John J Brosnan, 2083.

Died in France on 28 August 1918 aged 42.  Served with 4th Australian Pioneers.  Buried at Crouy British Cemetery, Crouy-sur-Somme VI D17.  John was the son of Hugh and Julia Brosnan.  His enlistment record says that he was born at “Glenbeath, Kallorglan, Ireland” but I presume this is actually Glenbeigh, Killorglin.  His next-of-kin is given as his brother Maurice, still in Ireland and with an address as Callyniska, Glenbeath, Kallorglan, Co Kerry, Ireland”.   John was a labourer, a Catholic, aged  38 years and 8 months old when he enlisted at Rockhampton in Queensland on 16 February 1916. He was 5’10” tall with a dark complexion, grey eyes and dark hair.

John went overseas on 1 May 1916, first to Egypt and then on to England in August where he joined a Pioneer Training Battalion.  He got into trouble for being AWOL from an army base at Perham Downs the following month, losing 6 days pay and being put into detention for 72 hours.  In November he crossed the channel, spending the customary couple of weeks in training at Etaples before joining his unit, the 4th Australian Pioneers in the field in France. He got a leave in England the following August and was then hospitalised when an old eye problem flared up.  He rejoined his unit in October 1917 but his health continued to be a problem and he was detached to the Australian Corps workshops in March 1918.  But his health continued to worsen and he died of disease (dysentry) on 28 August 1918.

In January 1919 John’s personal effects were sent to his brother and sister, Maurice Brosnan and Julia Sullivan at “Collyniska, Glenbeigh, Co Kerry”.  There wasn’t much: a disk, wallet, letters, photos, cards, a silk handkerchief, a religious book, a pouch and some religious emblems.  John had made a will using the standard form in his army daybook on the day o this death, leaving all he had to Maurice and Julia, plus 50 pounds for the upkeep of his mother’s grave in Ireland.  This replaced an earlier will from 1917 that John had lodged with solicitors in Brisbane.

This sounds like a sad end to a lonely single man’s life.  But maybe not.  In John’s file there are a number of letters from people enquiring after him, having seen his casualty notice in the newspapers.  One was his cousin, Miss Dymphna Sullivan of Shamrock Street, Blackall in Queensland where John had lived when he first came out from Ireland.  The second was from a Mrs Thompson and a third from Miss Monica Thompon of Walsh Street, Newtown, Ipswich, Queensland.  They were enquiring after any messages, letters of photos in John’s effects as he had been corresponding with another Thompson daughter, Ethel, since he left Australia and “she was doing some business for him”.  According to Monica, John “depended solely on my sister”.  Mrs Thompson wanted Ethel’s photo, her letters and small tokens returned.  This sounds like a romantic connection after all.

5.  Sergeant Patrick Joseph Brosnan, 22353.

Died in Sri Lanka on 10 February 1919 aged 43.  Served with the 7th Field Artillery Brigade of the Australian Imperial Force.  Buried in Colombo (Kanatte) General Cemetery RC I39.  He was the son of Jeremiah and Honora Brosnan and had been born in Co Kerry.

Patrick was a 41-year-old miner when he enlisted at Black Boy Hill (Boulder) in Western Australia on 8 January 1916.  He was separated from his wife and gave his mother Hanora (Honora) as his next of kin instead.  She lived at 3rd Avenue, St Peters, Adelaide, South Australia, as did John’s sister Miss Margaret M Brosnan.  Patrick was 5’10” tall, a Catholic, with a fair complexion, light brown hair and blue eyes.  He was appointed as a Gunner with the 23rd Howitzer Brigade of the 109th Battery.

Leaving Australia in May 1916, Patrick was soon promoted to corporal.  He lost this rank after going AWOL for 38 hours on 24 September at Larkhill in Wiltshire but he won the rank back after deploying to France in January 1917.  He transferred to the 7th Field Artillery Brigade (27th Battery) at this time and was subsequently promoted to Sergeant.  Patrick was wounded on 30 September 1917 and evacuated to England for treatment.  He also earned three weeks leave there in February-March 1918, a period during which he almost certainly made a visit to Ireland.

After the Armistice, Patrick was sent back from France to the Reserve Brigade of the Australian Artillery at Heytesbury in Wiltshire.  There, in early December 1918, Patrick caught the influenza infection that was sweeping through the troops.  He was hospitalised in England at the Sutton Veny military hospital and then sent on to Australia per the ‘City of York” which left Liverpool for Australia on 14 January 1919.  Patrick was disembarked at Colombo (in what is now Sri Lanka) on 7 February as a result of his illness and died in a military hospital there of pneumonia – a complication of the influenza infection – three days later.

Patrick was buried in the Catholic section of the public cemetery at Colombo.  A special war grave was supposed to be erected on his plot and his sister Margaret sent details of an inscription to be added to it.  Her suggested wording “In Loving Memory of P J Brosnan, Beloved eldest son of the late J & Honora Brosnan of 3rd Avenue, St Peters, South Australia” was too long for the 66-character allowance.  It was shortened to ” In Loving Memory  Beloved eldest son of the late J & Honora Brosnan”. However by 1924 no gravestone had actually been erected and Margaret’s inscription request had been lost.  Hopefully this was eventually sorted out; Patrick’s grave is an official war grave under the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Margaret also had trouble getting hold of Patrick’s personal effects. Three kit bags he was bringing back on the troopship went missing after this death and no insurance claim was allowed as the bags’ contents hadn’t been inventoried.  They were supposed to contain presents from Ireland and souvenirs from France, which suggests that Patrick had probably made a visit home to Kerry during the war.

Patrick’s war gratuity was paid out to his mother following his death, while through the war he had made an allotment from his pay to his sister, who was also the sole beneficiary of his will (made in France in June 1917).  When Patrick’s service medals were being sent out, enquiries were made about his wife who would have had a claim on them.  Honora informed the Defence authorities that “My son told me that he was married sone years ago in West Australia but he had not been living with her for the past twelve years and believed she had married again”.  No trace of the ex-wife could be found and so Margaret received Patrick’s medals subject to a sworn statement that she would return them to the Department if the wife showed up looking for them.

It seems unlikely that any of these men had any direct descendants and in some cases their immediate families seem to have died out too.  Perhaps there is no-one left to mourn their loss.  If so, I hope that this brief account of their service will act as a small tribute in their memory from Clan Brosnan.


A New Research Project: Clan Brosnan at war

Not much news from me for a while.  In fact I have been overseas again, this time on a work project associated with WWI commemorations.  It was for a video project we are calling “Journey of the Otagos” and which traces the movements of the Otago Infantry Regiment and the Otago Mounted Rifles through the battlefields of WWI.  The film crew was just me and my cameraman son Joseph.  Our journey took us first to Gallipoli and then across the Western Front through France and Belgium in a hectic 14 days where we found and filmed numerous sites associated with the Otago men at war.  These will be made into short programmes about Otagos’ war effort and shown at Toitu Otago Settlers Museum and elsewhere.  I kept a daily blog of our activities on the road, which might be of interest:

Meanwhile, I have decided to focus my research over coming months on all the Brosnans and Brosnahans who served in WWI.  This seems like a good way to remember their efforts and honour their memory, whatever we might think in retrospect about the cause they were serving.  In fact I hope to throw into the mix those clan members who were opposed to war service, such as Tim Brosnan who went on the run in New Zealand rather than accept his conscription to fight for the British King.  But first of all I want to set down all those who served and paid the ultimate price for their service.  To begin with the focus will be just on men (there are no women) who carried the Brosnan or Brosnahan surname.  Eventually I hope to extend this to other clan members who have a different surname but share Brosnan ancestry.

Feel free to add information, images, or more names if you can.

Russells Top Lookout, Gallipoli with The Sphinx behind me.

Russells Top Lookout, Gallipoli with The Sphinx behind me.


Filing at the Lone Pine Memorial in Gallipoli.

Filming at the Lone Pine Memorial in Gallipoli.

Constant and Faithful

Brosnan coat of arms 2Brosnan coat of arms 1

Bernard Hempseed kindly sent me the following information on the Brosnan coat of arms.  Bernard is married to Margaret Brosnan and they were both very enthusiastic participants in the Brosnan Gathering in 2013.

“A Blazon is the crest described in heraldic language.

Blazon; Azure a lion rampant or, on a chief of the second a boar passent with tusses and wreath all gules.

Translation; The basic shield colour is the first thing described. Azure is blue. On it is a lion and rampant means it is standing upright with forepaws extended and tail upright. Its colour is ‘or’ which is gold, normally depicted as yellow. A lion is regarded as an embodiment of courage, strength, and nobleness, and is the king of beasts. A chief is a horizontal strip at the top of the shield and it is of the second colour mentioned, vis gold. On the chief is a boar, which has long been respected for its courage and fierceness, and it has long tusks (tusses) and a curly tail (a wreath) and its colour is gules which is red. Passent means standing on three paws with the other raised.

Neither the name at the bottom nor the helmet and mantling are part of the blazon and are simply added by the artist who drew the arms. This coat of arms belongs to the Brosnan clan or family by adoption (as are thousands of similar family coats of arms) but one assumes it was granted to a family member somewhere in the dim distant past. Normally, arms are granted to an individual but Irish family arms do exist it seems.

Brosnan Motto; apparently “Fide Et Firme” which means Faithfully and Firmly or Faith and Firm.

Also suggested is “Constans Et Fidelis”, which translates Constant and Faithful.

Quite similar.

Variations on the name of Brosnan;

Brosnahan Brosnahen, Brushneen, Brushnihan, Brusnane,  Bresnahan, Brosneghan, Brosnaghan Brosnachán, Brosnaghe, Brosnihan, Brusnahan, McBrosna, O’Brosnan,

Ó Brosnacháin, Ó Brosnacáin


A Verse.

Two animals to show courage and strength

Do not need to be described at great length.

A golden lion upright standing

Upon a blue under grounding

Overtopped by a scarlet boar

Striding out on gold across the floor.

What is said herein doth give such charm

To the noble Brosnan coat of arms.”

Ar dheas Dé go raibh a h’anam

Mum beauty

On 23 March 2014 my beloved mother passed away, just days before her 83rd birthday.  Born Helen Patricia Scully, she was a proud descendant of Kerry through her grandparents James O’Neill of Ardcanaught, Keel, and Julia Egan of Killeen, Currans.  After she married Ray Brosnahan in 1958 Mum carried the Brosnahan name with equal pride and was always wonderfully supportive of Brosnahan family events.  I want to dedicate the following poem to Mum.  It is by the late Kerry poet Sigerson Clifford and was sent to me by Tom Brosnan of Dromultan.


I am Kerry like my mother before me,

And my mother’s mother and her man.

Now I sit on an office stool remembering,

And the memory of them like a fan

Soothes the embers into flame.

I am Kerry and proud of my name.


My heart is looped around the rutted hills,

That shoulder the stars out of the sky,

And about the wasp-yellow fields,

And the strands where kelp-streamers lie;

Where, soft as lovers’ gaelic, the rain falls,

Sweeping into silver the lacy mountain walls.


My grandfather tended the turf fire,

And, leaning backward into legend, spoke,

Of doings old before quills inked history.

I saw dark heroes fighting in the smoke,

Diarmuid dead inside his Iveragh cave,

And Deirdre coining upon Naoise’s grave.


I see the wise face now with its hundred wrinkles,

And every wrinkle held a thousand tales,

Of Finn and Oscar and Conawn Maol,

And sea-proud Niall whose conquering sails,

Raiding France for slaves and wine,

Brought Patrick to mind Milchu’s swine.


I should have put a noose about the throat of time,

And choked the passing of the hob-nailed years,

And stayed young always, shouting in the hills,

Where life held only fairy fears,

When I was young my feet were bare,

But I drove cattle to the fair.


Twas thus I lived, skin to skin with the earth,

Elbowed by the hills, drenched by the billows,

Watching the wild geese making black wedges,

By Skelligs far west and Annascaul of the willows.

Their voices came on every little wind,

Whispering across the half-door of the mind,

For always I am Kerry…