Joseph Brennan (civil servant)

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Joseph Brennan (1887–1976) was a senior Irish civil servant born in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland on 18 November 1887.

In 1909 he entered Christ Church, Cambridge, where he studied mathematics and then switched to classics. In successive years he obtained a first in Latin and Greek. In 1911 he entered the Civil Service and was assigned to the Board of Customs and Excise and a year later transferred to the finance division of the Chief Secretary's office in Dublin Castle.

During the July 1921 Truce he was introduced to Michael Collins and later became a financial advisor to the team negotiating the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

In April 1922, he became the Irish Free State's first Comptroller and Auditor - General and in April of the following year he was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance, a post he held until his retirement from the Civil Service in 1927.[1] Later that year he was appointed Chairman of the Currency Commission.

In 1925 his lengthy note on the Free State's financial position was helpful in concluding the Irish Boundary Commission negotiations.[2]

When the Currency Commission was dissolved in 1943 he became the first Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland. From 1928 until his retirement in 1953 his signature appeared on all Irish Banknotes.[3]

In 1938 Joseph Brennan was conferred with an Honorary LLD by the National University of Ireland. He died in 1976.


  1. ^ He was appointed Secretary of the Department of Finance (1923-27) at just 36 years of age. During his stint there, according to his colleague and biographer, Leon Ó Broin, he: ‘appears to have had a free hand in setting up an Irish exchequer on the British model, in devising how the Exchequer account in the Bank of Ireland would operate and be controlled, in introducing the British system of parliamentary control over public finances via annual estimates, vote on account, and appropriation accounts, and in solidly establishing the role of the Comptroller and Auditor General.’
  2. ^ Note of 30 November, 1925
  3. ^


  • No Man's Man: A Biographical Memoir of Joseph Brennan, by Leon O Broin

Hardcover, Institute of Public Administration, ISBN 0-906980-20-8 (0-906980-20-8)