Cathal Brugha Memorial Card

The memorial card seen here is for Cathal Brugha who was a leading Irish Revolutionary and politician in Dáil Éireann. Brugha was second in command of the garrison at the South Dublin Union during the Easter Rising. Brugha was badly wounded during the fighting, and likely escaped execution or imprisonment due to the severity of his injuries. Brugha, a member of the Sinn Fein party, was elected MP for Waterford in the 1918 general election. He was also a founding member of Dáil Éireann and served as the Minister for Defence. He frequently clashed with Michael Collins, and viewed the IRB influence as detrimental to the government’s ability to control the IRA. Brugha opposed the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, and voted against its implementation. He left the Dáil in the wake of the vote that ratified the Treaty. He eventually joined the Anti-Treaty IRA after failing to dissuade his fellow Anti-Treaty comrades from taking up arms against the Irish Free State. He fought with the forces in O’Connell Street during the Irish Civil War and was wounded by Irish Free State forces on 5 July 1922. He succumbed to his wounds and passed away in the hospital on 7 July 1922.

This memorial card was likely issued on the first or second anniversary of Brugha’s death. While it does seek to memorialize Brugha, it can also be seen as a propaganda piece design to draw attention to the Free State government and military, who Anti-Treaty Republicans still viewed as enemies. The memorial card features a picture of Brugha and reads as follows:

“Killed in Action


while Defending

the Republic

Cathal Brugha has given

his life for the Old Cause

which will never die

He was in a Minority but

So was Wolfe Tone, so

Was Emmet and so was

Padraig Pearse

His blood is on your hands

If you do not repudiate

The men who have done

This thing in your name”

The first seven lines are designed to remind readers that Brugha fought to defend the idea of the Irish Republic and that he, like many others, died fighting to the Republic.  Readers are also drawn to the concept that this cause will never die, until a republic is formed in Ireland. The next four lines draw attention to the fact that Brugha was fighting for a cause that had minority support in Ireland at the time of the Treaty ratification.  However, the writer of the card seeks to show that his allegiance to the cause was justified. Now glorified heroes of Irish Republicanism and independence, Tone, Emmet, and Pearse, had all chosen to fight for an unpopular cause. The final four lines seek to place the blame for Cathal Brugha’s death on all those who support the Irish Free State government and the Free State Army.  It seeks to convey that supporters of the Free State have ultimately played a part in the violence carried out by the Free State Army. In reality, this card serves as a grim reminder that many good men were lost on both sides of the conflict during the Civil War.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *