- IE IJA J/69
- 02 November 1854-16 June 1941
Born: 02 November 1854, Dublin
Entered: 19 October 1875, Milltown Park, Dublin
Ordained: 15 June 1889
Final Vows: 02 February 1894, Clongowes Wood College SJ
Died: 16 June 1941, Rathfarnham Castle, Dublin
Early education at St Stanislaus College SJ, Tullabeg
by 1880 at Laval France (FRA) studying
by 1881 at St Aloysius Jersey Channel Islands (FRA) studying
by 1888 at Leuven Belgium (BELG) studying
◆ Irish Province News
Irish Province News 16th Year No 4 1941
Father James Brennan
Few men of the Irish Province have given it a more loyal and devoted service than did Fr. James Brennan during the 86 years of his membership of it. He filled many important positions in most of its houses, in four of which, Clongowes, Galway, Belvedere and Rathfarnham he was Superior. During the last years of his life when he had ceased to hold office, he continued his interest in the Province, its welfare and its activities, showing this by the earnestness and enthusiasm with which he devoted himself to his work as Editor of the Province News. All who had dealings with him in this capacity will recall how glad he was to receive any news of Ours and of their doings, and how glad he was to publish anything that would edify and encourage us in our work.
Fr Brennan was at school in Tullabeg for 6 years (1869-75), and if these be added to his 68 years in the Society, the grand total of 71 years of connection with the Irish Province is reached. It is thus no wonder that he was so loyal and devoted a member of the Society and the Province. His noviceship was passed in Milltown Park under Fr. Charles McKenna, and at its conclusion he was sent to Clongowes with three others, Messrs. Fegan, Manning and Elliott, for his juniorate under the guidance of Fr. Zimmerman. The four juniors lived in the old Infirmary, since burnt down, and only mixed with the rest of the Community on special occasions. His second year of Juniorate was spent in Milltown Park. He then went to Laval for Philosophy, but he had to leave there the following year when the members of the Society were driven out of France. The French Jesuits had acquired the Imperial Hotel in St Helier, Jersey, and opened it as a Scholasticate, and there Mr Brennan spent the year 1880-81. Life, However, in foreign houses had not agreed with him, so he finished his Philosophy in Milltown Park.
His regency was spent in Clongowes (1802-07) where he was at first Third Line Prefect, then four years Master, acting as assistant to the Prefect of Studies during portion of the time. During this time, the amalgamation of Clongowes with his old school, Tullabeg, took place, and Mr Brennan had much to do with the success of the venture. He proved himself an excellent and very successful master, and was very popular both inside and outside the classroom.
In 1887 he went to Milltown for Theology, but again his health failed, and he had to continue his studies privately in Tullabeg, which had just been opened as a Noviceship and Juniorate. He was then ordained in 1889, and went to Belvedere, where he spent three years, 1889-92, as Master and the third as Minister. In 1892 he went to Tullabeg for his Tertianship, being at the same time Socius to the Master of Novices.
The year 1893 saw the beginning of his long connection with Clongowes where he was Higher Line Prefect for a year, then Minister for six years, becoming Vice Rector in 1900. The period of his Rectorship saw many important improvements effected in the College. The chief of these was the acquiring of the temporary church at Letterkenny and erecting it in Clongowes where it still does duty as gymnasium, theatre, examination hall, and luncheon room on the Union Day.
We next find him on the Mission staff (1904-06) with his headquarters at the Crescent, Limerick, but it was not long before he was in office again. being appointed Rector in Galway in 1906, and two years later Rector in Belvedere (1908-13). It was during this time that Belvedere purchased the grounds at Jones Road which have proved such a, valuable acquisition to the College.
In 1913 Rathfarnham Castle was purchased and opened as a House of Studies for our scholastics attending lectures in University College, Dublin. The important position of Superior of the new house was entrusted to Fr Brennan, and everyone agreed that no better choice could have been made. The characteristics which had made him so successful in his previous positions were to be still more conspicuously displayed in this new sphere of duty. His paternal rule mingling kindliness and generosity with insistence upon observance of discipline, made him an ideal Superior of young men fresh from the noviceship.
After six years in office he ceased to be Superior, but remained in Rathfarnham, with the exception of one year (1920-21), when he was Spiritual Father in Clongowes, until the end. During the earlier portion of this period he suffered much from vertigo and had to give up saying Mass. His cure which he believed to have been obtained by the prayers of a Nun to Fr. Willie Doyle, is one of the most remarkable of the many favours attributed to Father Willie.
In 1925 the Province News was started and Fr.Brennan was appointed. Editor, holding that position until his death which took place on June 17th. He had been for almost 30 years in Rathfarnham, and it will be hard to imagine The Castle without his cheery presence. He was so interested in everybody and everything connected with the place, so edifying, so helpful as an advisor and as a confessor that he will be sorely missed. May he rest in peace.
◆ James B Stephenson SJ Menologies 1973
Father James Brennan 1854-1941
The kindly face of Fr James Brennan will long be remembered by those young scholastics to whom he ministered for 30 years of his Jesuit life in Rathfarnham. Sixty years in all he spent in the Society, years of fruitful and lasting work.
He was closely associated with Clongowes in his early days in various capacities, finally as rector. It was he who acquired the temporary church at Letterkenny, and had it erected in Clongowes to serve for many years as a gymnasium, theatre and examination hall. He was the first Editor of the “Province News”.
He passed peacefully to his reward on June 17th 1941.