Fergus O'Farrell has a BA and MA from UCD. His writing has appeared in The Irish Times, the London School of Economics Review of Books and History Ireland. He lives in London.
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.
'O’Farrell’s book is based on his MA thesis, it is the product of diligent research and he is to be congratulated for it and for having it published, as MA theses rarely are. His central argument is not without merit, is eloquently presented and well-argued, and though he clearly has sympathy for Brugha this never clouds his judgment. I would disagree with his conclusions but anyone interested in the Irish revolution should read this attractive and well-researched volume.
Thomas Earls Fitzgerald, Dublin Review of Books, January 2019
'The author adds to our knowledge of Brugha’s assassination squad that he brought to London in early 1918 during the conscription crisis.'
Frank MacGabhann, Irish Times, December 2018
'What emerges is Brugha’s complex attitudes towards violence. He was willing to lead a suicidal mission into the House of Commons to assassinate the people who he saw as directly responsible for the violence in Ireland. However, he removed names from Michael Collins’ list of spies who were to be executed by the squad on what became known as Bloody Sunday.'
Fergus O'Farrell in the Irish Times.
'If you wiped out every Black and Tan in Ireland tomorrow, you'd have shiploads of them pouring in again, the day after. And if you wiped every soul of them out, double as many shiploads would come in, the day after that... To save Ireland, you have got to wipe out the guilty ones who sent the Black and Tans here. We have got to wipe out every member of the British Cabinet.'
Fergus O'Farrell writing about one of Cathal Brugha's elaborate plans to wipe out the British cabinet.
'Richard Mulcahy, in particular, has attempted to abjure his role in the mission. There are several reasons for this. Following the revolution, Mulcahy had a long career in politics with Cumman na nGeadheal and later Fine Gael, often viewed as the parties of law and order.'
Fergus O'Farrell writing in the Irish Story