A former sergeant with the Royal Irish Regiment, William James Brennan-Whitmore left the British Army in 1907 and became involved in Irish nationalism, joining the Gaelic League, Sinn Féin and, later, the Irish Volunteers. He was made adjutant of the North Wexford Brigade in 1914 and, just weeks before the Rising, was appointed as a general staff officer. Along with Michael Collins, he acted as an aide to Joseph Plunkett at the beginning of Easter Week, and was later stationed at North Earl St. Using the Pillar Cafe as his base, he established a “string and can” communication system across Sackville St., from the Imperial Hotel to the GPO. He was wounded, captured and later interned at Frongoch prison camp, where he counted Collins, Richard Mulcahy and JJ O’Connell amongst his acquaintances. He fought both the War of Independence and the Civil War in Wexford, a supporter of the Treaty on the latter occasion. He also performed intelligence work during these years, and became editor of An tÓglach in 1923. He left the army in 1927, retiring to his native Wexford, where he established a farm, a newspaper, and a printing business. His memoirs, including With the Irish in Frongoch (1917) and Dublin burning: the Easter rising from behind the barricades (1961), recount his experiences during the revolutionary years.
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