Corish honoured in centenary year
THE LIFE and work of the late Brendan Corish, Labour Party leader, and Tánaiste from 1973 to 1977, was explored by a panel of speakers at a special conference in Wexford town library.
The event was held to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Brendan Corish’s birth, on November 19, 1918.
Organised by the Irish Labour History Society (ILHS), the event was booked out, with standing room only for those who happened to pass by the proceedings.
Visitors were able to get a flavour of the day by inspecting a special exhibition, compiled by Helen Corish Wylde and county archivist Grainne Doran, which focused on both Richard Corish and Brendan Corish, including some fascinating artefacts from more than 100 years ago.
Among the speakers were: Joe Thomas, chairperson of Wexford Trades Council; Francis Devine; Jack McGinley, who read out Brendan Halligan’s paper on Corish and the New Republic; Tony Browne, a former advisor to Corish, who focused on social welfare reform to combat poverty and promoting social inclusion; Fionnuala Richardson, vice president of the ILHS; and Niall Green who discussed ‘Brendan Corish and Labour Party Administrative Reform’.
Family and relatives played a large role in the day, and many travelled from far and near to attend the event.
Helen Corish Wylde, as well as being the local point of contact for the ILHS, gave a presentation on her uncle’s life, focusing on his achievements on the GAA pitch and the stage, as well as in politics.
Brendan Corish’s son Richard spoke candidly about life as the son of a politician, particularly during the 1970s when the Troubles had an impact on those in Dáil Éireann as well.
The proceedings were closed by current Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin who shared his own memories of Corish, after whom he was named. He shared anecdotes about Corish’s last election campaign, which he worked on.
He also touched on Corish’s notion of the New Republic, something which, he said, was still relevant today and which was referenced in the recent Labour Party convention.
Organiser Helen Corish Wylde expressed her sincere thanks to the ILHS, the staff of Wexford town library and archivist Grainne Doran for their invaluable support in the run-up to and during the event.
The day ended with a rendition of Brendan Corish’s favourite song ‘The West’s Awake’, sung by Cllr George Lawlor, accompanied by Donagh Wylde.
The Corish family (from left): Monica, David and Eoin Corish; Richard Lambe; Phyllis Corish, wife of the late Brendan; Richard Lambe; Phyllis and Brendan’s sons, John, Richard and Philip Corish; and Goretti, Anna and Kate Corish. Labour Party leader Brendan Howlin with Phyllis Corish.
Brendan Corish in 1973.