Pádraig de Brún

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Monsignor Pádraig de Brún (1889–1960), also called Patrick Joseph Browne, was an Irish clergyman, mathematician, poet, and classical scholar, who served as President of University College Galway.

De Brún was born at Grangemockler, County Tipperary, in 1889, the son of a primary school teacher, Maurice Browne.[1] He was also known in friendly informal circles as Paddy Browne.


He was educated locally, at Rockwell College, Cashel, and at Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, Dublin (at both he was tutored in mathematics by Éamon de Valera[2]). in 1909 he was awarded a BA from the Royal University of Ireland, he was awarded an M.A. degree by the National University of Ireland, and won a travelling scholarship in mathematics and mathematical physics, enabling him to pursue further studies in Paris. He was ordained as a Catholic priest at the Irish College in Paris in 1913, the same year he earned his D.Sc. in mathematics from the Sorbonne under Emile Picard.

Pádraig de Brún (2nd from left) at Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1942

After a period at the University of Göttingen, de Brún was appointed Professor of Mathematics at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth, in 1914. In April 1945, he was elected by the Senate of the National University of Ireland to succeed Mgr. John Hynes as President of University College Galway, an office he held until his retirement in 1959. The School of Mathematics, Mathematical Physics and Statistics is based in Áras de Brún, a building named in his honour. He subsequently became Chairman of the Arts Council of Ireland, a position he held until his death in 1960. He also served as Chairman of the Council of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

He was close friend of the executed 1916 leader Sean Mac Dermott.

De Brún was a prolific writer of poetry, including the well-known poem in the Irish language "Tháinig Long ó Valparaiso". He translated into Irish many classical works, including Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, Sophocles' Antigone and Oedipus Rex, and Plutarch's Lives, as well as Dante's The Divine Comedy.

The French Government awarded Mgr. de Brún the title of Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1949, and in 1956, the order "Al Merito della Repubblica Italiana" was conferred on him by the President of Italy. He was created a domestic prelate by the Pope in 1950.

Mgr. de Brún died in Dublin on June 5, 1960. His brother was Cardinal Michael Browne O.P. His sister, Margaret Browne, married the Irish revolutionary and statesman Seán MacEntee with whom she had a daughter Máire (the noted Irish language poet scholar, Máire Mhac an tSaoi). He bought land in Dún Chaoin in the Kerry Gaeltacht, and in the 1920s he built a house there, where his sisters children would stay.[3]

The Big Sycamore (1958)[4] is a fictionalised account of the early life of the Browne family, written (under the pen-name Joseph Brady) by his brother Monsignor Maurice Browne.[5]


Preceded by
Monsignor John Hynes
President of University College Galway
Succeeded by
Martin J. Newell


  1. ^ Pádraig De Brún www.ainm.ie
  2. ^ Monsignor Padraig de Brun by Thomas MacGreevy, Original Source: Italy Speaks. July 1960. pp. 8-9.
  3. ^ One to One - Maire Cruise O'Brien with Cathal MacCoille, www.rte.ie.
  4. ^ Joseph Brady (aka Maurice Browne) (1958). The Big Sycamore. M.H. Gill, Dublin. ASIN B000RHST5Y. OCLC 1999792. Retrieved 3 Sep 2014. Autobiographical and fictionalized account of an Irish family, the Fitzgeralds.
  5. ^ Matt Purcell (1997). "Monsignor Maurice Browne". Retrieved 2014-09-03.

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