Michael Brennan grew up on his family farm at Meelick Cross, Co. Clare. He was sworn into the IRB at the age of 15 and helped to launch the Irish Volunteers in Limerick in 1913. As the Easter Rising approached, he received instructions to obstruct communications in Limerick, but Eoin MacNeill’s countermand ensured that this plan fell through. Following an abortive attack on a police barricade in Limerick on the Thursday of Easter week, Brennan was arrested and imprisoned at Richmond barracks, Wakefield, Frongoch, and Reading. Brennan was released in December 1916, but spent a large part of the following years in jail, portions of which were spent on hunger strike. He took command of the IRA’s East Clare Brigade in 1918 but fell out with headquarters and by 1920 he was leading a flying column which undertook ambushes at Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, and O’Brien’s Bridge, Co. Clare, amongst other operations. He was made commander of the 1st Western Division in May 1921. A supporter of the Treaty, Brennan won a key victory for the government by seizing Limerick from republican forces in July 1922. His career in the army continued following the end of hostilities, and he was appointed as the Chief of Staff in 1931. He remained in his position under the Fianna Fáil government until 1940, when he was removed from the post.
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