Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 01:19Z by Steven

Tim Brannigan, a real black Irish republican

The Irish Times
Dublin, Ireland

Fionola Meredith

When Tim Brannigan was born his mother persuaded a doctor to declare him a stillbirth. Then she gave him to an orphanage – coming back a year later to ‘adopt’ the son she couldn’t admit she’d had. After that he had a normal IRAsafe-house childhood

When Tim Brannigan was 19 he found out who he really was. Growing up as a black kid in 1970s west Belfast, he already knew he was different. He had been adopted as a baby, he believed. But it turned out the person who “adopted” him was his own mother, Peggy. As he tells it in his memoir, Where Are You Really From?, it is an extraordinary narrative of secrecy, desperation and deep, unbreakable devotion, played out against the flaming backdrop of the Troubles. So perhaps it isn’t surprising that Hollywood can see its cinematic potential. Brannigan recently sold the film rights to his life story to the Oscar-winning producer John Lesher, and scripting will soon be under way.

“Mum told me everything on July 13th, 1985,” Brannigan says. He remembers the date clearly because it was the day of Live Aid, Bob Geldof’s televised music fundraiser for famine relief in Ethiopia. The family had decamped to an uncle’s holiday house in Cushendall, Co Antrim, to escape the Twelfth parades in Belfast. “The drink was flowing, and my mum was sitting there with a glass in her hand,” says Brannigan. “She started asking me what I wanted to do when I got my A levels. Suddenly she said, ‘Your father was a doctor.’”

That didn’t make sense. As far as Tim knew his adoptive father was Tom Brannigan, a delivery man and sometime showband singer, whom he describes as a chancer. “He had plenty of opportunities to fly his kite, and he did.”

“Get ready,” Peggy said. “First of all, you’re not adopted.” Shocked, Tim began to weep. “Don’t cry,” his mother whispered. “People will think I’m shouting at you. And don’t tell them, or I’ll bust your face!”…

Read the entire article here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Where Are You Really From?

Posted in Articles, Autobiography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 00:34Z by Steven

Where Are You Really From?

Culture Northern Ireland

Joanne Savage

Race, republicanism and a mothers love in Tim Brannigan’s memoir

Peggy Brannigan met Michael Ekue at a dance in Belfast in 1965. She was from Beechmount; he was a medic from Ghana. Their eyes met, they danced and sparks flew. She was gorgeous and vivacious and republican. He was well groomed, educated and, exotically for Belfast in the 1960s, black. Both were married but swept away by each other. It was a passionate affair and the result was Tim.

His skin colour meant Peggy Brannigan had to go to extraordinary lengths to placate her husband and stave off the judgement of her devoutly Catholic neighbourhood. A black baby would have sent the busybodies fingering their rosary beads behind the net curtains into overdrive.

The little boy was smuggled from the hospital to St Joseph’s Baby Home. Peggy told everyone it had been a stillbirth. When the dust settled she began to visit her son in St Joseph’s, soon bringing him home on weekends. Eventually she would adopt him.

Meanwhile, Doctor Ekue did what so many philandering married men do. He stuck his head in the sand and carried on as usual, never contributing to his son’s education or upkeep. He returned to Ghana and left Peggy to do the rest.

Being black in the almost totally white working class area of Beechmount in the heart of west Belfast (an area this writer knows all too well), Tim obviously stood out. Narrow-minded people made stupid remarks, including the British soldiers lining the streets. Some classmates were unkind and Tim was increasingly aware that he was different from his four brothers. As he grew up he became embroiled in the republican struggle, despite backward men in bars insisting that it wasn’t his struggle or that, being black, he somehow couldn’t count as republican…

Read the entire review here.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Where Are You Really From? Kola Kubes and Gelignite, Secrets and Lies – The True Story of an Extraordinary Family

Posted in Autobiography, Books, Media Archive, Monographs, United Kingdom on 2016-05-29 00:14Z by Steven

Where Are You Really From? Kola Kubes and Gelignite, Secrets and Lies – The True Story of an Extraordinary Family

Blackstaff Press
208 pages
5.4 x 0.5 x 8.4 inches
Paperback ISBN: 978-0856408533

Tim Brannigan

Tim Brannigan was born in Belfast in 1966, and spent the first year of his life in St Joseph’s Baby Home, before being adopted by his birth mother. Told here for the first time is Tim’s extraordinary story, describing in vivid detail what it was like growing up black in Belfast during the turbulent 1970s and 80s, his five-year stint as a republican prisoner, his coming to terms with the true circumstances surrounding his birth, and his desperate attempts to trace the father who abandoned him.

Tags: , , ,