Leg­endary Garda ‘ Lugs’ Brani­gan

Pub­lished: March 14th, 1953 Pho­to­graph: Der­mot Barry

The Irish Times Magazine - - THE TIMES WE LIVED IN -

Look­ing at this pho­to­graph, which ap­peared in the Times Pic­to­rial sup­ple­ment in 1953, there are a num­ber of ques­tions you might ask – and one you al­most cer­tainly wouldn’t. Who is this chap, you might won­der. And why is his pic­ture in the pa­per? What you shouldn’t need to won­der about, whether you recog­nise the man or not, is why he was known as “Lugs”.

The photo was taken at a box­ing match between Ire­land and Aus­tria at the Na­tional Sta­dium. The cap­tion tells read­ers that “Garda ‘ Lugs’ Jim Brani­gan rep­re­sented the Garda box­ing team both in cruiser and heavy­weight, and in 1938 he boxed for them in Ber­lin as a cruiser.” It adds that dur­ing his box­ing ca­reer he was never knocked out.

It’s as if Brani­gan is still box­ing for Ire­land in 1953, al­though in fact he re­tired from the ring in 1939. He would have been 43 at the time the photo was taken, but con­tin­ued to spar with younger box­ers and weight- trained un­til he was well into his 60s.

Was our pho­tog­ra­pher a box­ing fan? The im­age presents its sub­ject in a pos­i­tive light; to the ca­sual reader Brani­gan would have ap­peared fresh- faced, af­fa­ble, open, re­laxed. Should the need arise, how­ever, those folded arms could still pack quite a punch – and his small smile for the cam­era doesn’t quite cover the wari­ness in his eyes. There is, this pic­ture hints, an­other side to Jim Brani­gan.

And so there was. For 30 years he headed up Dublin’s Riot Squad, ad­min­is­ter­ing his idio­syn­cratic brand of tough love to any­one who was caught caus­ing trou­ble on the streets of the city. He was feared and re­spected in equal mea­sure: even now, the jury is out on whether his highly per­sonal ap­proach to polic­ing was good, bad or even le­gal. The nick­name “Lugs” was dreamed up by a Dublin crim­i­nal in the 1940s, but rarely ap­plied. To his face – and to his Garda col­leagues – Brani­gan was known as Branno or The Bran.

So maybe our in­trepid snap­per took his pic­ture, wrote his cap­tion, and ran. Fast.

Ar­minta Wal­lace Ar­chive pho­tographs and other

Ir­ish Times im­ages can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.