Saturday, June 14, 2014

Gordon Brewster

With thanks to the National Library of Ireland

With the approach of Bloomsday on Monday next (16/6/2014) I am reminded of Gordon Brewster, who died in my mother's shop on that day in 1946.

I have blogged on the excellent NLI blog about his wonderful cartoons and have set out on my webpage some of his family story based around his gravestone in Kilbarrack cemetery.

I hope to be doing a talk in the National Library in November, based mainly on an introduction to, and an analysis of, his cartoons between 1922 and 1932. This is the period covered by the collection recently acquired by the NLI. It is a very interesting period in the history of the nation, spanning a decade which saw the formation and consolidation of the new state. While the cartoons take a poke at the Irish politicians of the day, mainly those in government, they also deal extensively with British politics and in some cases beyond that. There are quite a few references to Gandhi, for example.

One of the things that distinguishes Brewster from many of the other cartoonists of his day is that he was an actual artist and he exhibited in the Royal Hibernian Academy. He also became art editor at Independent newspapers.

I had the good fortune to meet his daughter, Dolores, recently. She is a delightful lady, now in her eighties. She is not only full of fun but she has a pile of stories about her father, whom she adored.

The wider family is also of interest. Gordon's father was secretary and then MD of Independent Newspapers and his brother was in charge of the Cork office of that company.

His other brother Richard was killed on the Somme towards the end of WWI and I gather that neither Gordon nor his father ever got over the loss.

Richard Gardiner Brewster, as you will see at the link above, is commemorated on the family gravestone in Kilbarrack though his remains were never recovered from the battlefield. His name also figures on the Pozières Memorial near where he died. But the most dramatic memorial is in St. George's (former) church in Dublin's Hardwicke Place. It is on a panel in a stained glass window devoted to those who fell in WWI. The former church is currently up for letting.

With thanks to Eugene O'Connor

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