Brennan, Martin, 1912-1999, Jesuit priest

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Brennan, Martin, 1912-1999, Jesuit priest

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  • Ó Braonáin, Martín

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Dates of existence

04 December 1912-21 July 1999

History

Born: 04 December 1912, Dundrum, Dublin
Entered: 03 September 1930, St Mary's, Emo, County Laois
Ordained: 31 July 1945, Milltown Park, Dublin
Final Vows: 02 February 1948, St Ignatius, Leeson Street, Dublin
Died: 21 July 1999, Cherryfield Lodge, Dublin

Part of the St Ignatius, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin community at the time of death.

Uncle of Fergal Brennan - Ent 1959

◆ Interfuse
Interfuse No 105 : Special Edition 2000
Obituary
Fr Máirtín Ó Braonáin (1912-1999) : translation by Brian Grogan SJ
Martin's health began to decline in 1996 and he spent periods of time in Cherryfield, returning to Leeson Street as often as he could. Later, for health reasons, he remained permanently in Cherryfield. In the last couple of weeks his strength was fading and he died peacefully on Wednesday July 21st, 1999 in Cherryfield.

4th Dec. 1912: Born in Dublin.
Early education in Dundrum National School and CBS Synge Street
3rd Sept. 1930: Entered the Society at Emo.
4th Sept. 1932: First vows at Emo.
1932 - 1936: Rathfarnham- Arts Degree at UCD
1936 - 1939: Tullabeg- Philosophy studies.
1939 - 1942: Milltown- Science Degree at UCD
1942 - 1946: Milltown- Theology studies.
31st July 1945: Ordained priest at Milltown Park.
1947 - 1951: Leeson Street- Doctorate studies in Botany at UCD.
2nd Feb. 1948: Final Vows at Leeson Street.
1951 - 1981: Lecturer in Botany in UCD.
1981 - 1993: Lecturer Emeritus in Biology, writing and assisting in Sallynoggin parish.
1993 - 1996: Lecturer Emeritus in Biology, working in the Irish language apostolate and writing.
1997 - 1999: Moved to Cherryfield Lodge, praying for the Church and the Society.

Fr Proinnsias Ó Fionnagáin writes...

I remember the first time, in September 1932, when I met Máirtín as he arrived in Rathfarnham from Emo, Co Laois. The new scholastics were being welcomed and Máirtín responded to me in Irish. I am sure his companions knew the language but Máirtín was the only one willing to speak it spontaneously.
In the weeks that followed we had little opportunity to chat because I was weighed down with study for my BA exams. I did not see Máirtín again for six years, when we encountered one another in August 1938 in Milltown Park. I had completed regency in the colleges and about to begin theology, but there was a different agenda for Máirtín.

Máirtín did well in Rathfarnham but you would get little news of him in the Province News. However in Tullabeg, our House of Philosophy, we find that Máirtín had completed his studies with exceptional merit. At that time, Fr H. Schmitz, a German Jesuit, had come to Tullabeg to replace Fr Eddie Coyne, and tradition tells that Máirtín did so well in his classes that Fr Schmitz recommended that he be sent on for special studies in Botany. Whether this is true or false Mairtin spent four years, 1938-1942, in UCD studying for a degree in Botany and Zoology. Unsurprisingly this diligent student emerged with first honours and highest merit. Eventually Mairtin began theology (1942-46) and was overjoyed to be ordained a priest on St Ignatius’ Day, 31 July 1945; but his spiritual formation was not completed until summer 1947.

He then took up residence in St Ignatius House, Leeson St—his address till the end of his life. Again, more study followed for his doctorate, but in between we find him teaching Botany as assistant to the professor in UCD, and lecturing in science and religion to students in Earlsfort Terrace. In July 1952 he was awarded his doctorate.

What shall we relate of Dr Mairtin’s life-style in UCD from 1952? Certainly he was a conscientious lecturer who was never satisfied with his current level of knowledge. He was always studying, strengthening and deepening his knowledge in order to achieve excellence in what he taught. Almost every year in vacation time, he participated in learned conferences whether at home or internationally, especially in France, Germany and the US.

He gave many public lectures between 1952-70, on topics such as ‘Adam and Anthropology’, ‘The Catholic Student and the Problems of Evolution’ etc. From 1961 he gave lectures on the philosophy of the French Jesuit, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, in UCD, Maynooth, Galway and Cork. Some of these were published both in Irish and English. It is clear that over these years Mairtin was ceaselessly at work, not only in fulfilling his obligations as professor in the University, and in writing and lecturing. But there is more to the story! He never forgot his first love, the Irish language. No sooner had he completed his formation than he became a member of Cumann na Sagart and was later unanimously elected as its president. It gave him great joy to attend when the annual prize of the Cumann was bestowed on young people who had fostered "Glór na nGael" (The Irish Language). Frequently he travelled as Irish-speaking chaplain to Lourdes. I lived with him in Leeson St from 1961-74 and I often noticed Máirtín’s pleasure when someone spoke in Irish to him. As for myself I would break in on a conversation to ask if he could recall a verse from Tadhg Gaelach or Raifteri. Immediately he would respond with three or four of the required verses!

Maírtín retired from lecturing in October 1980 but he wasn’t seeking ‘ease with dignity’ although he had well earned the right to take life more easily. Soon he was made assistant priest in Sallynoggin, and was elected to membership of the Boards of Management for Irish-speaking schools in Rathcoole and Clondalkin. And he continued to work for our native language until his health no longer allowed him to continue his duties.

When I returned home from France in October 1981 I was delighted to see Máirtín again. He visited me in Gardiner St to discuss the history of the Jesuits in Ireland. I gathered that Mairtin had joined the Jesuits with a deep knowledge of the history of Ireland, learned from the Christian Brothers: now he was deepening his knowledge of the history of the Jesuits in Ireland. He was an independent thinker in regard to the history of Ireland. In his view, the Wild Geese should have stayed in Ireland after the Treaty of Limerick instead of going abroad to fight the battles of the kings of Europe: they could have engaged in guerrilla warfare with the English and their friends at home in Ireland!

God gave Máirtin a long span of life, and surely he was ready when the final notice to surrender came. Let us pray that he may soon experience the vision of the Holy Trinity, under the mantle of Mary our Glorious Mother. He died on July 21, 1999.

Good Jesus our Lord, give him eternal rest.

Proinsias O Fionnagáin, SJ
Translation Brian Grogan SJ

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830- (1830-)

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Irish Vice-Province of the Society of Jesus, 1830-

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Brennan, Martin, 1912-1999, Jesuit priest

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