Writings

 

Leaving Dublin: Writing My Way from Ireland to Canada

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 296 pages – ISBN: 978-1926855745
Published in 2011 by RMB | Rocky Mountain Books

An engaging and entertaining exploration of Brian Brennan’s life that begins in middle-class Dublin, includes stints as a travelling musician and broadcaster in Canada, and culminates in a career as an award-winning journalist and bestselling author. With passion, candour, humour and vivid stories, Brian tells how he left a soul-destroying job in the Irish civil service to seek new opportunities in a country where he had no friends and no family connections. He offers revealing glimpses of suburban life in the postwar Ireland of the 1950s, the commercial music scene in Canada during the 1960s, and the commercial radio and newspaper scene during the last third of the 20th century, when journalism went from being a business with a conscience and a higher purpose to an enterprise owned by large corporations that care more about private profit than public debate.

“Brian Brennan’s memories of his childhood in Dublin, before heading off to seek a new life for himself in Canada, are amusing, charming, and filled with loving warmth. This is the Dublin and the Ireland that I remember, too, not at all like the place of misery depicted in Angela’s Ashes. A most enjoyable read!”

– Dermot Desmond,
Irish businessman and financier, Chairman of International Investment and Underwriting

“Brennan modestly says this is ‘the story of an ordinary immigrant from Ireland’, though I must disagree. It is a tale of a remarkable life in Ireland and Canada told with flair and extraordinary skill. Brennan takes the reader on a journey that is both poignant and humorous and spans six decades. You’ll not be disappointed if you go along for the ride. Don’t take my word for it. Read the book.”

– Patrick Taylor,
New York Times and Globe and Mail best-selling novelist

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The Good Steward: The Ernest C. Manning Story

Written by Brian Brennan
Hardcover – 240 pages – ISBN: 1-897252-16-1
Published in 2008 by Fifth House Ltd., a Fitzhenry & Whiteside Company

Ernest Manning was a giant of Alberta history. Religious leader and radio evangelist, then Social Credit premier for twenty-five years before serving in the Canadian Senate for another thirteen years, Manning left an indelible mark on the religious, social and political identity of the province.

With characteristic humour and grace, Brian Brennan traces the story of the deeply religious man who rose to become Canada’s youngest premier and one of the most successful politicians in Canadian history.

“Rich in insight, humour, and entertaining anecdotes that reveal the hidden side of a very private individual” — George Melnyk, author of the two-volume Literary History of Alberta

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Songs of an Irish Poet: The Mary O’Leary Story

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 148 pages – ISBN: 0-9782-7390-3
Published in 2007 by Bowness Press, a division of Brennan Ink

Book:
Kindle Edition: $0.99 CDN

Mary O’Leary (Máire Bhuí Ní Laoire) was one of the most celebrated Irish-language folk poets of the nineteenth century. A popular balladeer in West Cork, she composed songs that were built to last — songs collected and preserved by folklorists that now occupy a significant place in the repertoires of contemporary traditional performers.

In this, the first full-length treatment of the life, times and poetry of Mary O’Leary, Irish-Canadian author Brian Brennan examines the phenomenon of one of the few female oral poets of her generation to achieve name recognition after her death. The book contains new English-language translations of her entire poetic canon including her best-known song, “The Battle of Keimaneigh” (Cath Chéim an Fhia), a stirring description of an armed clash in 1822 between militia troops and a secret society of Catholic tenant farmers known as the Whiteboys.

 

“An important contribution to the literature of Irish studies at a time when there is a worldwide resurgence of interest in Celtic poetry and song.” — Catherine Ketch, IRISH EXAMINER

“It should be on the mandatory reading list of every Irish-language class, and in the hands of every lover of Irish culture and history.” — Sandra Dempsey, THE CELTIC CONNECTION

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How the West was Written: The Life and Times of James H. Gray

Written by Brian Brennan
Hardcover – 224 pages – ISBN: 1-894856-62-7
Published in 2006 by Fifth House Ltd., a Fitzhenry & Whiteside Company

 

James H. Gray was the first Canadian social historian to tackle such previously taboo subjects as the sex lives and boozing habits of the early settlers. His books were on the national and Toronto Star bestseller lists before those of Pierre Berton and have since become classics of Canadian literature. Gray’s Red Lights on the Prairies stunned readers with its straight-forward approach to prostitution on the prairies and was named one of the one hundred most important Canadian books of all time by the Literary Review of Canada. Brian Brennan traces Gray’s life from his early years to his prolific late-period career as a social historian who produced an impressive, entertaining series of books about prairie life during the first half of the twentieth century.

“An engaging biography, rich in personal detail and insight. Gray would have liked this book.” — Bill Waiser.

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Romancing the Rockies: Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn & More

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 224 pages – ISBN: 1-894856-40-6
Published in 2005 by Fifth House Ltd.

 

In Romancing the Rockies: Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn, and More,award-winning popular historian Brian Brennan introduces us to the daring men and women who found themselves attracted irresistibly to the magnificent Canadian Rocky Mountains over the last 250 years. Whether they visited the lofty peaks and sheltered valleys, made journeys of exploration, pilgrimage, adventure, physical endeavour, or cultural achievement, all were drawn by the romance, the allure, and the mystique of these ancient and fabled mountains.

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Boondoggles, Bonanzas and Other Alberta Stories

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 224 Pages – ISBN: 1-894004-94-9
Published in 2003 by Fifth House Ltd.

 

In his most recent best-seller, Scoundrels and Scallywags, Brian Brennan introduced us to Albertans who dared to be different. Now, in Boondoggles, Bonanzas, and Other Alberta Stories, Brennan turns his sights to erstwhile events, both good and bad, that have engaged the attention of Albertans over the years.

Brennan roams across the sweep of Alberta history, retelling a wide range of stories for a new generation. From front-page news items (the Frank Slide and Leduc oil discovery) to lesser-known events (the Lonely Bachelors of “Dinosaur Valley” and the Rainmaker of Medicine Hat) Brennan chronicles some of the fantastic boondoggles and bonanzas that have helped forge the Alberta story.

Always entertaining and often surprising, Boondoggles, Bonanzas, and Other Alberta Stories – Brennan’s fifth book – celebrates the ups and downs, successes and scams, of Canada’s most vibrant and independent province.

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Scoundrels and Scallywags

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 224 Pages – ISBN: 1-894004-92-2
Short-listed for the 2003 Grant MacEwan Author’s Award
Published in 2002 by Fifth House Ltd.

 

Alberta has a reputation for attracting and producing characters with little respect for the law and less for public opinion. In this collection of biographies, Brian Brennan profiles some of the flamboyant, eccentric and downright bizarre people who established this tradition.

Mee Bill Peyto, the legendary mountain man who once let a lynx loose in a saloon to see how quickly the drunks could escape. Or Calgary’s notorious prostitute Pearl Miller, who left such an impression with Canadian soldiers in the Second World War that they responded to the American sign “Remember Pearl Harbor” with “To hell with Pearl Harbour, remember Pearl Miller.” Or Elizabeth “Sweaty Betty” Abbott, an Edmonton slum landlord known for punchiing out abusive husbands and taking care of their battered wives.

They come from all corners of the province and they’re a wild and unruly bunch, but Alberta couldn’t be prouder of them.

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Alberta Originals – Stories of Albertans Who Made a Difference

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 215 Pages – ISBN: 1-894004-76-0
Published in 2001 by Fifth House Ltd.

 

From philanthropists to local characters, artists to oil-patch executives, Alberta Originals is filled with people who made a unique contribution to the social, economic, cultural, and political foundations of Alberta. Each person was an original who brought his or her energy and vision to the shaping of a province that has a history of embracing the unusual and entrepreneurial. The huge success of Brian Brennan’s bestseller Building a Province left readers clamouring for more. Alberta Originals is Brennan’s response to the demand, featuring sixty more significant and influential Albertans. Brian Brennan provides a fresh look at these province builders, highlighting little-known details from the lives of The Famous Five, Bible Bill Aberhart, Frank McMahon, Catharine Robb Whyte, Ernest Manning, Bruno Engler, and many more.

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Building a Province – 60 Alberta Lives

Written by Brian Brennan
Paperback – 224 Pages – ISBN: 1-894004-53-1
Published in 2000 by Fifth House Ltd.

 

Alberta is filled with characters – pioneers, cowboys, entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and many unsung heroes who have worked hard to make a difference. Brian Brennan highlights sixty Albertans who may not all be famous, but have left their mark on Alberta, making the province what it is today. From ordinary Albertans to such local celebrities as Bob Edwards, Betty Mitchell, Stan Waters, Smiling Jack Gallagher, Wilf Carter, and Alice Murdoch Adams, Building a Province pays tribute to Alberta lives and accomplishments.

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