Book Review

Cathal Brugha: The complex man behind the fanatical revolutionary caricature

Daithí Ó Corráin and Gerard Hanley’s exhaustively researched and engaging biography reveals an intelligent, but ultimately flawed figure in Irish history

Eamon de Valera and Cathal Brugha seen here minutes after rejecting the Peace Treaty in 1921. A year later, Brugha died after being shot by Free State troops. Picture: Irish Film Archive

Cathal Brugha has often been depicted as a hopeless fanatic. “Brugha doesn’t know his arse from his elbow,” Michael Collins tells Eamon de Valera in the 1991 RTÉ drama The Treaty. “I’ve always admired that man, he’s given more for Ireland than any of us. But [his] idea that we can take on the might of the British Empire in a straight fight is ballsology.”

Daithí Ó Corráin and Gerard Hanley’s book sets out to ...