Identity Statement for Caitlín Bean Cathal Brugha

  • Reference code: IE UCDA P15
  • Title: Papers of Caitlín Bean Cathal Brugha
  • Dates: 1912–52
  • Level of description: Fonds
  • Extent: 13 items
  • Context
  • Content and Structure
  • Conditions of Access and Use

Biographical History

Caitlín Brugha, company director and politician, was born Catherine Mary Kingston, at Birr (or Parsonstown), co. Offaly, on 9 December 1879, the daughter of William Kingston, shopkeeper, and his wife, Catherine, née Roche. She was educated at the Sacred Heart convent in Roscrea. In 1910 she moved to Dublin with her family. She had been a Gaelic League organiser in Birr and rejoined the organisation in Dublin, becoming an active and committed member. She met her husband, Cathal Brugha (1874–1922), formerly Charles William St John Burgess, through the Gaelic League, and they were married on 8 February 1912. Cathal Brugha was a partner in the Lalor brothers' company, a candle manufacturer, but his time was increasingly taken up with political activities through his membership of the Irish Republican Brotherhood and the Irish Volunteers. He was supported strongly by his wife, who held similarly staunch republican views. She played an active role in supporting the volunteers during the 1916 rising, in which her husband was involved.

Like her husband, Caitlin Brugha was deeply opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. He was killed in an ambush as he fought on the republican side during the Irish civil war on 7 July 1922. At the request of his widow, republican women alone acted as chief mourners, forming a guard of honour at his funeral. Brugha described her request as a protest against the ‘immediate and terrible’ civil war which had been forced upon republicans. She was left with six young children to care for, one of whom was the future TD Ruaidhri Brugha.

Caitlin Brugha succeeded her husband as Sinn Féin representative for Waterford in 1923 and 1927. In common with the other members of her party, she abstained from the Dáil in protest against the oath of allegiance. She resigned from the Dáil in 1927, having served on the executive of Sinn Féin. She then devoted her time to her family and to her drapery business, Kingston's Ltd, which she had established in 1924. She did, however, continue to court controversy at times and she and her family remained renowned for their anti-Britishness. This was most famously manifested in 1941 when she allegedly harboured a German spy who parachuted into Wexford. Caitlin Brugha died in Dublin on 1 December 1959 and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

S. Pašeta

Courtesy of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Archival History

This collection was deposited in UCD Archives by Mr and Mrs Seán Ó Briain. 

Scope and Content

Letter from Patrick Pearse concerning the financial administration of St Enda’s School (1912); anti-Treaty propaganda material (1921–2); letters from Mary MacSwiney  commenting upon the contemporary state of the republican movement (1934–8).


  • Access: Available by appointment to holders of a UCD Archives reader's ticket. Produced for consultation in original format. Original material will be retrieved at 11am and 2pm only.
  • Language: English
  • Finding aid: Descriptive catalogue
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