Author: Mac Benoy  May 2012
Wards of Dublin 
Bill’s Family Parents PART 1
My father John, at the age of 32 married Anna Brangan, also 32, who was a secretary/accountant in the same concern where he worked - Varian & Son of Talbot Street.  Alas I have little knowledge of my mother's family.  Her mother was Mary (nee) Dunne who died in 1913.   Her father was William Brangan, a Chemist who possibly had a side business as a manufacturer of soft drinks and who died in either 1906 or 1910.  My mother had a brother Pat, a private in the British Army, who died in 1923.  There is an old surviving letter from him in Khartoum to his sister Anna from which it appears he was reasonably content with his lot in life and was looking forward to seeing his then girlfriend.   There is an old photograph of him with sister Anna whilst visiting her during army leave in Leeds and she has my brother Jack on her knee. My father, born 1880, died 20 April 1946.  He was the eldest son of the family and was always close to his sister Agnes.  He followed his father into Varian's as a brushmaker.  There was a general great depression in Ireland at the time and much greater political unrest, and as far as I can visualise around 1911 my father had to go to England, like so many thousands of others, in search of work.  Whilst living in Leeds he may have proposed marriage to Anna as his marriage certificate reveals his address in that City, and went over to Dublin for the wedding held in St. Agatha's, North William Street on 28/12/1911.  Anna must have continued living in Dublin for my eldest brother John (Jack) was born here and then later went over to Leeds. The first Great War came about in 1914 and at dates unknown to me my father was conscripted into the Infantry*.  I have often wondered why he never told any interesting stories of his trials and ordeals in the mud, cold, shelling and gas attacks of Flanders. Clear in my mind was his hatred of the whole affair and the appalling types of men it was his lot to be with, especially bearing in mind there were anti-British troubles in Ireland at this time, and not being with an Irish Regiment there were anti-Catholic feelings too.  Another reason for my attempting to see his war records was that I recall a friend of my father stating that 'Jack' (as he was known) had refused a bravery medal.  It  appears that two privates had been tied to a field gun for cowardice and that it had come under heavy bombardment when Jack crawled out of the trench, worked his way to the gun and untied the rope. The war concluded in Nov. 1918 and I would imagine he returned to home and Anna about early 1919.  There was even greater depression in England, as indeed there was in Europe and work was difficult to obtain, but eventually he was working with reasonable security as a brushmaker with the Leeds Co-Operative Society, within walking distance of his home in Garnet Place.  But he was not happy living in England and around 1927 having news of a job in Dublin, he gave in his notice and left for where his heart really lay.  Within a week he was back in Leeds embarrassed and saddened since he had been with union/workers/strike passions from pre-war times making working conditions impossible.  Depression still existed and whilst mother still lived in Garnet Place, a heavily working class area in back-to-back housing, no bathroom and toilet down the street, father had to make a living being away from home living in 'digs' variously in Birmingham, Bradford and London. Meanwhile mother was not able to settle in her reduced state environment and being of a quiet and reserved nature was unable to cope with the current anti-Irish/anti-Catholic feelings of her neighbours.  Like father, she always desired to return to Dublin but that was not to be.  Returning from Christmas midnight Mass in cold and heavy rain (I remember it) she developed pleurisy and, leading eventually to pneumonia, she died of a heart attack on 10 March 1930.  Father had been at home the previous weekend and returned to Bradford leaving my eldest brother Jack upstairs in bed with pleurisy and awaiting entry to hospital, and brother Francis, aged 14, away from school, tending to mother (there was a daily visit from the Doctor).   I, aged 10, was at school and on returning home that fatal day, a Monday I will never forget, was informed by a kind neighbour and not allowed to enter the house at the time. I have always felt the loss of not knowing my mother and indeed almost resent the abilities of some people who can recall their childhood right back to almost infant years.  Mother's education must have been reasonably good to have been secretary/accountant in Varians in Dublin.  As to her personality, I well recall observations about her from Aunt Agnes and surviving friends up to the 1950's that she was demure, very pretty and well liked.  From neighbours and friends of my father in Leeds came the same endorsements, but with the addition that she was not happy in England.  In ending this paragraph I feel very inadequate in not being able to record further.  I wonder, did I as a boy just accept that a mother was just there, someone to look after you?  But that's cruel.  Nevertheless I can say no more other than vague feelings that I loved her. (continued in Parents 2) *  I had attempted some years before this writing to obtain information from the British War Office as to his records but it appears they were destroyed during German fire-bombing raids in 1943