Brogan, Harry (1905–77), actor, was born 5 May 1905 in Holywood, Co. Down, son of John Brogan, bricklayer and stonemason, and Margaret Brogan (née Hickey). The family moved to 17 Emmet St., Harold's Cross, Dublin, in his infancy. In 1918 he made his first stage appearance with Constance Markievicz (qv) in ‘The confederates' at the Foresters’ Hall, Parnell Square. Against the wishes of his family, he gave up his mason's trade in the early 1920s and became a full-time actor, joining Billy Walsh's touring Irish Players. He worked periodically with the Lyric Theatre company, Parnell Square, and the Torch Theatre company, Capel St., and in 1926 got his first walk-on part in the Abbey Theatre in George Bernard Shaw's (qv) ‘Androcles and the lion’. Brogan became a permanent member of the Abbey company in 1936, where he established himself as one of the country's foremost character actors with such roles as Joxer in Sean O'Casey's (qv) ‘Juno and the paycock’, Sheamus Shiels in O'Casey's ‘Shadow of a gunman’, and John Perry in George Shiels's (qv) ‘The rugged path’. He was associated with Radio Éireann from its earliest days, directing and performing in many radio plays, and was the first to read poetry on the station, broadcasting the poems of Patrick Pearse (qv). In 1961 he starred in Telefís Éireann's first major dramatic work, J. M. Synge's (qv) ‘Well of the saints’. His subsequent frequent television appearances were complemented by his prolific work in films, of which he made thirty-one. Most of these were Irish or British productions, such as The rising of the moon (1957), Shake hands with the devil (1959), The quare fellow (1962), and Girl with green eyes (1964). His refusal to work abroad except with the Abbey company meant that he turned down many film offers from England and America. To honour his long service to Irish theatre he was made a life member of Irish Actors' Equity (1968). His 1972 performance as Harry Hope in Eugene O'Neill's ‘The iceman cometh’ earned him a special presentation from the Abbey. Brogan continued acting until the last year of his life; he died 20 May 1977 at his home, St Enda's Drive, Rathfarnham, Dublin, after a long illness, and is buried in Deansgrange cemetery. He married (27 April 1938) Ellen, daughter of James Reilly, land steward; they had three sons and two daughters.
E. H. Mikhail (ed.), The Abbey Theatre: interviews and recollections (1963), 194; Ir. Times, Ir. Independent, Ir. Press, 21 May 1977; H. Hunt, The Abbey: Ireland's national theatre 1904–1978 (1979), 192; Boylan; Christopher Fitz-Simon, The boys: a biography of Micheál MacLíammoír and Hilton Edwards (1994), 253; Kevin Rockett (ed.), The Irish filmography (1996)