Born into a strongly nationalist family, Cathal Brugha displayed a passion for Gaelic culture and sport in his early years. He joined the IRB in 1908 and later became adjutant of the 4th Dublin Battalion of the Irish Volunteers shortly after its formation, participating in the Howth Gun Running in July 1914. He was vice-commandant under Eamonn Ceannt at the South Dublin Union during Easter Week. On Thursday, 27 April, he was isolated and severely injured by a grenade blast, yet continued to repel advancing British soldiers. In the aftermath of the Rising, he set about reorganising the Volunteers, serving as the organisation’s chief of staff between October 1917 and April 1919. He was elected as TD for Waterford and, with Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith imprisoned, was chosen as acting president for the First Dáil in January 1919. Upon de Valera’s return, he took up the position of Minister for Defence, yet struggled to match Michael Collin’s influence over the IRA during the War of Independence. He spent much of the period on the run, whilst still maintaining his position as a travelling salesman for Lalor’s candle-making firm. A staunch republican, he opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, and joined fellow anty-treatyites in Upper O’Connell St. during the opening days of the Civil War. With the hotel he was based in coming under heavy fire, Brugha charged out onto the street and was shot. He died from his wounds two days later, and is buried at Glasnevin cemetery.
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