Patrick Brennan lived all of his life in Charlestown and he was a man of many parts. He had three main occupations, raising his family, working as a handyman and managing the Charlestown Pipe Band in the 1920’s.
Recently, a good friend of mine, Vincent Doherty of Church St, a neighbour of the Brennan family, gave me Pat’s little note book, in which he made notes of all of his transactions during that period. This little note book gave an indication of how efficient Pat was in recording his daily chores, and also noting the cost of same.
His first entry, dated June 1920, gives a short account of his time painting Bushfield Church.
June 30th: Started painting Church July 16th: Drew £5.00 July 30th: Drew £10.00 August 1st: Working for Bill Mulligan Another of his responsibilities was managing the AOH Hall, later on known as the Town Hall and now our Library. In the AOH Hall in those days, many of the citizens used the Hall for card playing and public meetings. Badminton was sometimes played upstairs.
I now include his Receipts and Expenses for November 1919:
Sunday Nov 9th: 3 Shillings Nov 15th: One shilling and eight pence Nov 16th: 3 Shillings Nov 22nd: Two Shillings and two pence And so on to the end of the month.
Nov 15th: One ass-cart load of Turf: One Shilling. One Pint of oil: 3pence. Other dates included the following for that month: Four candles: 6pence. Another ass-cart load of turf: One Shilling. One pack of cards: 2 shillings. And so on, as the Card players needed the turf for the fire to keep them warm during the games, the lamp oil for the lighting and the cards to play the games, which was mostly the game of 25.
All the pages in his little red book were signed by Mark Henry, who was a Justice of the Peace at that time. For the rest of the months in the 1920’s, the Receipts and Expenses were of the same nature.
During the Card games, a break was held frequently for about fifteen minutes and tea was served. Pat would charge four and six pence (4/6) for the tea and biscuits. The charge for the fire was 3 shillings and 6 pence. Later on in 1920’s the cost of the ass-cart load of turf went up to 2 shillings.
As well as managing the Hall, he also managed the Town Pipe Band. His sons Tom and Pete played in the Band, as did Mike Doherty, on the big base drum. Local support was always welcome for the Band, and the following were recorded as having made contributions: Received £1 and 8 Shillings from J Mulligan, 16 Shillings from P Harrison and £5.00 from Mr McGrath. Other expenses for the Band were as follows: Rail tickets for the band from Ballyhaunis to Dublin was £3 and 4 Shillings, payment to Guard for Special carriage was 4 Shillings and 2 Shillings for waiters for dinner at a hotel. He received £10.10 Shillings from Jim Morrisroe, on the 2nd of June 1924. Other expenses were: Paid M Howley £2.00 for bags for pipes, paid Tony Henry 8 Shillings for car to Swinford and 8 Shillings to James Howley for the same trip, to transport the band.
Pat Brennan died on the 20th April 1932, his wife Mary on the 26th August 1960, his daughter Lizzie in 1919, his son Pete in the 1930’s, his daughter Annie in the 1980’s and his other son Tom, who was fondly known to his neighbours as "Frendeen", in 2001. Tom was also a well known handyman and worked in many homes around Charlestown during his time. He was also a beautiful singer.
Pat Brennan gave his greatest gifts with a smile, because after all, he had something to give which was of value to everyone who knew him. One by one, death challenged his family, one by one they smiled and refused to be dismayed.
Together they found the path that led them home, and when at last, they laid their lives at the feet of the Good Shepherd, what could He do but smile.
© Cathal Henry 2012