Brennan, Austin Joseph (1894–1983), revolutionary and soldier, was born 8 April 1894 at Meelick Cross, Co. Clare, near Limerick city, second son of Patrick Brennan and Mary Brennan (née Clancy), farmers. After his education at the local national school he worked on the family farm. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and was officer in charge of the Meelick company at Bunratty castle during the 1916 rising. To the fore in promoting the candidacy of Éamon de Valera (qv) for the Clare East by-election (July 1917), he and his two brothers Michael (qv) and Patrick were arrested and charged with illegal drilling a week after the election. Refusing to recognise the jurisdiction of the British courts, the three brothers were sentenced to two years' hard labour in Cork jail, whereupon they commenced a hunger-strike for political-prisoner status. This plan of action had been formulated in advance by Patrick Brennan to intensify the struggle and was later adopted by the Volunteer movement. After ten days hunger-strike in Cork jail they were moved to Mountjoy jail, Dublin, where they were joined by more than thirty other strikers. After forcible feeding Brennan was moved to Dundalk jail, where he was released in bad health (September 1917) after the government had conceded the strikers' demands. On active service till the truce, Brennan was in Waterford in January 1919 and was appointed acting brigadier of the East Clare Brigade in March 1920 in succession to his two brothers. A supporter of the treaty, he joined the national army as a commandant (1 March 1922) and was attached to the 1st Western Division. Promoted to colonel in January 1923, he was in Dublin between 8 and 10 March 1924 and was suspected of having taken part in the ‘army mutiny’. Arrested and charged for absence without leave (possibly in the hope of bringing a more serious charge later), Brennan denied any involvement in the mutiny, and at his trial the case was adjourned when the GOC of the Claremorris command refused to give evidence.
Throughout the 1920s Brennan was dogged by ill-health, and on 16 February 1929 he retired from the army while attached to the southern command. Diagnosed as suffering from TB, he received treatment in Wales, France, Switzerland, and Germany before returning to Meelick to farm. Returning to politics, he was a founding member and first president of the Army Comrades Association (ACA) (February–August 1932). Despite retiring from the presidency owing to illness, he continued to be active behind the scenes, particularly in conjunction with his friend and confidant, Commandant Ned Cronin (qv). An unsuccessful Fine Gael candidate for Clare in the 1948 general election, he later sold the family farm, which had suffered an arson attack by British forces during the war of independence, and moved to Clontarf, Dublin, where he ran a guesthouse till the late 1970s. He was married to Christina Hogan of Coolreagh, Bodyke, a niece of Paddy Hogan (qv), TD, of Kilreacle, Co. Galway. They had four sons and a daughter. He died 5 August 1983 in Dublin.