Actor, Brendan O’Carroll (Mrs Brown’s Boys) is the youngest of eleven children. He was born in 1955 in Finglas, Co Dublin to parents Gerard Francis O’Carroll and Maureen McHugh. Gerard was a cabinet-maker and Maureen a secondary school teacher and the first Irish Member of Parliament.
They were married in 1936 in Dublin but both his parents came from families with very eventful pasts. Gerard was born to Peter O’Carroll and Annie Scully and the family can be found in the 1911 Ireland Census at 92 Manor Street, Arran Quay.
Gerard’s three elder brothers, William, Peter and James, were strong supporters of Irish Independence and were members of the outlawed IRA that were fighting the occupying British forces at the time. Their father Peter ran a chandlers or hardware shop in Manor Street and was a respected and trusted figure on local society. His business is listed as an ‘ironmonger’ in the Dublin 1905 Directory, and in the 1910 Dublin Trade Directory he is listed as a Chandler:
Peter was not seen as a threat by the British but they were out to track down his sons who had been identified by British Intelligence. An army squad led by Major Jocelyn Lee Hardy, a decorated First World War hero in the Connaught Rangers, paid a visit to the O’Carroll household and when Peter would not tell them where his sons were, Major Hardy shot him dead and wounded 10-year-old Gerard, Brendan’s father.
Michael Collins was convinced that Hardy was responsible for the death of O’Carroll and the shooting of Sinn Féin County Councillor, John Lynch, at the Exchange Hotel Dublin on 23 September 1920.
From war hero to cold-blooded assassin… Major Hardy had fought in the British Army from the outbreak of the First World War and when his unit was surrounded by Germans, was taken prisoner in 1914. He subsequently tried many times to escape and received military promotions (and quite a reputation back in Britain) for his efforts. Finally he escaped after three and a half years in captivity and was received by King George V at Buckingham Palace, such was his new found status as an heroic escapee.
Though many attempts were made by the IRA to kill Hardy, he managed to escape and died in 1958.